Usine Gonzo is part of a traditional flax mill. The retting mill was founded at the end of the 19th century and was systematically expanded to the current site. The entire site is considered a valuable heritage, not only because of its strategic location, but also because it is one of the best preserved rettings of its kind. There are typical root pits, the steam engines with annexed chimney and a few flax barns. The engine room includes steam boilers and an exceptional steam engine, the only one of its kind to be found in Belgium. The boilers were fired with “shives”, the woody cores of the flax stalks that were separated from the flax fibers during the production process. As a result, the heating costs could almost be reduced to zero. This fuel was also used in this retting mill until the late 1970s. At the end of the 1970s the company fell into disuse. Still it would take more than 25 years before the whole was protected as an industrial heritage.
This was probably the most confrontational explore I have done so far. Obviously you know that the piece of meat on your plate didn’t get there from an animal that died of natural causes after having lived a full and happy life. You know that it is part of the industrialized segment of the food chain, but you choose to ignore that or you push it to the back of your mind. Once you stand here though and you see this cold, dark and dreary place, this industrial killing machine, things get very real very fast. What is it that makes us humans think it is okay to let animals “live” in gruesome circumstances only to kill them off in even more gruesome circumstances and tear them to pieces to be sold off as goods? It isn’t! This place really chilled me to the bone…