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Brussels, and it’s rush hour at the crossroads. For spare change, the jugglers flit between cars, blinking traffic lights and blasting horns. They are the people from the squat. I met them here a year ago, a mix of Latinos, North Africans and others. Hicham is 34. Moroccan by origin, he’s sociable and welcomes me into his home. After meeting many times over the course of several weeks, a friendship develops between us. Hicham opens up and speaks freely to me, accepting my presence in his daily life. It marks the beginning of a project to document Hicham and his community of acrobatic jugglers in which I will immerse myself fully. I will spend whole days and nights here, a privileged witness to a life that, as it turns out, is much more complex and dark than it might seem to Brussels’ commuters as they watch smiling jugglers at the traffic lights. In less than a year, Hicham occupies a squat in a former embassy, gets beaten up in a drug-related incident, and leaves the squat to try to set up in another abandoned embassy. He is expelled after one week and goes to live in a teepee beside a railway line in one of Brussels’ richest neighbourhoods. My project is an intimate account of a man in search for answers in his daily struggle at the intersection of art, violence and solidarity.
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