Stëmme vun der Schmelz
Exhibition: – 1 Jan 2023
CNA Centre national de l'audiovisuel
1b, rue du Centenaire
"Stëmme vun der Schmelz"
Exhibition: 26 March 2022 – 1 January 2023
As part of the "our archive - your story" project and on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the exhibition space Waassertuerm + Pomhouse, the CNA presents "Stëmme vun der Schmelz" in homage to the former industrial site and its workers.
140 years after the foundation of the first fully integrated steelworks (including blast furnaces, steel- and rolling mill) in the country, the time seems right to look back on this pivotal era in the Grand Duchy’s history; to let the memories of this period live again through the words of the people who witnessed it, to archive and retell these stories.
In this exhibition, you will get to know 19 witnesses who were kind enough to share their experiences of everyday life in and around the steelworks with us – reminiscences of a time when Dudelange was hailed as the ‘Forge du Sud’.
Guided along by the laborers who worked here, you will be able to embark on a multimedia tour of a landscape shaped for more than 100 years by this organism made up of steel and iron, discover the many different jobs and professions involved, and find out what really went on at Dudelange’s "Schmelz".
Dive into this fascinating subject by coming face to face with contemporary witnesses – our "Stëmmen" (voices) – in the first part of this exhibition, housed inside the base of the water tower. The portraits of these former steelworks employees were taken between 2019 and 2021, during our interview sessions, by Luxembourg photographer Armand Quetsch, who captures our witnesses and their personal souvenirs of the steelworks in his series "D’Stëmmen an hir Gesiichter" (The Voices and their Faces).
Immerse yourself in the "Usinoscope" – the second part of our exhibition, installed in the tower’s former water tank – and discover the story of the rise and fall of this industrial complex, narrated by voices from the period. Take a brief respite in the tower gallery and enjoy the panorama of the city of Dudelange and its various neighborhoods, which gradually popped up here in the wake of the steelworks’ success. Make the most of the descent via the outside staircase by taking in the vastness of the former industrial site, serenaded by an industrial litany ("Schmelzer Litanei"), before reaching the garden at the foot of the tower where you are greeted by the silhouettes of foundry men and rolling mills' laborers ("Blechräisser a Gossbaueren").
Inside the former pumping station, Pomhouse, the exhibition focuses on everyday life and work at the Schmelz, including the more sinister aspects like accidents and pollution, crisis and downsizing. This part of the exhibition is dedicated to the intimate recollections of our witnesses that you will not find on the pages of a History book – personal memories recounted with varying degrees of warmth, disillusionment and nostalgia. The end of this multimedia exhibit is marked by a special installation created by Luxembourg artist Max Mertens. A mobile carrying the protective helmets worn by the steelworkers stands as a symbol of the dynamism of the daily routines of the steel plant and as a tribute to its employees.
This journey through Dudelange’s recent past is possible only thanks to the participation of our witnesses, and the plethora of audiovisual documents gathered from the CNA archive, as well as the archives of the City of Dudelange. We would like to express our gratitude to everyone for contributing to this gathering of documents and information.
After studying fine arts in Strasbourg, Misch Feinen first worked as a graphic designer, before concentrating on his own creations as a freelance artist. His work is focused on industrial history, landscapes and architecture. He uses metal objects, photography, video and drawing to create multi-disciplinary installations involving sound and mechanics. He is an active member of the collectives DKollektiv and FerroForum and a percussionist for various musical projects.