Rijksweg 1 (State Highway 1) links up Antwerp to Brussels over Mechelen (Malines). Before the motorway came, there was some really heavy traffic. Now the highway is abandoned. Jef Cornelis picks out a straight piece, between Kontich and Walem. “A highway which lost its way. A road of today. A road acting as a location. It makes out the landscape, its own landscape all by itself.” This road had been known for a long time because of its heteroclite ribbon building: villas, company buildings, gas stations, showrooms, brothels, highway diners, restaurants. The traffic used to be very busy, day and night, and the hinterland joined in. These days allotment cancer strikes more and more often. The road is still the single link between all these buildings which washed ashore by its shoulder. Cornelis and screenplay writer Geert Bekaert explore the road as if it were a lost artery, stripped of all possible life, a couple of remains making out the only signs of life, signs of what is no longer there: a connection. This is not a cinematic translation of architecture, nor a representation of a utopia, but rather a futurological fiction of an arterial road which doesn’t belong to anyone, eating into everything around itself, where people keep going as if the highway did not exist.

00’00" (01’01") Picture of roadside construction-work over a text by Geert Bekaert. 01’30" (01’02") Pictures of workmen painting the iron bridge at Kontich and clearing ground. 03’00" Extract from Joseph von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express. 03’50" (01’03") Views of traffic on Walem bridge. Archive photographs of the bridge and of Mao swimming. 05’40" (01’04) Views of traffic on the bridge. 07’00" (01’04") Views of traffic on the highway. 09’00" (01’05") Travelling along a minor road alongside the highway. Views of various details. 10’45" (01’06") Views of the highway from various places (brothel, brewery, cafe...). 12’00" (02’01") Houses alongside the highway. Close-up of a hand dusting furniture. Views of service stations. Close-up of highway. 14’20" (02’04") Pictures of brothels (view of a table by a window), roadside cafes (pensioners dancing), houses (a couple watching television). 17’55" (03’01") Facades of houses alongside the highway. 19’10" Views of roofs, jutting-out facades, greenhouses, dovecotes... 23’20" A cafe terrace, details of a service station, a restaurant and houses. 25’00" (04’01") The facade of a castle restored. Views of farms, bourgeois residences, gardens in courtyards and dovecotes. Travelling along fields, henhouses, greenhouses... 31’00" View of the highway, a vegetable garden and farms. 33’15" (06’01") Parachutists landing on the highway. Pictures showing details of traffic. 37’25" Children playing and running away from a crossroads. 38’10" (07’01") Views of clients in a cafe seen from behind the bar. 42’05" Credits. 43’00"
(Source: Jef Cornelis 1964 - 1990, Espace Art Contemporain : Maison de la culture et de la Communication de Saint-Etienne, 1991)