C²DH historians Viktoria Boretska and Stefan Krebs and anthropologist Irene Portas Vázquez spoke to Hanna Siemaszko, the producer of the SciLux podcast on science in Luxembourg, about the making of the stories and the challenges of fictionalising history.
Delve into the history of the Minett with 21 unique digital stories
The Minett Stories exhibition investigates the multiple histories and identities of the Minett region, as well as those of the people who lived and worked there. Through 21 stories the exhibition describes the various transformations of landscapes, places and people, from the region’s rapid industrialisation in the late 19th century to the steel crisis of the 1970s and the subsequent gradual deindustrialisation. Instead of focusing on the narratives of the large ironworks and steel barons, the stories narrate the lives of ordinary people, the "Minettsdäpp".
Minett Stories has set a milestone in the development of transmedia storytelling as a tool for promoting history of technology to the public. The online exhibition successfully combines different storytelling modes and media formats that speak to dedicated audiences: some aiming at young people (graphic novel), some at people with historical interest but little time (videos and radio plays) and some to people with a thorough interest in the Minett’s history and plenty of time to engage with the rich content (21 written essays with 1,000+ items in the digital archive). You can for instance listen to a radio play about riots in Esch at the end of World War One, discover graphic novels about Italian communists or the history of air pollution, watch documentaries and videos, explore interactive maps and read historical essays. In addition, you can delve into a huge collection of historical sources from the Minett.
The exhibition was developed in collaboration between the REMIX team, Milan-based design studio Calibro and Bergamo-based software company Inmagik. The Remix team spent two and a half years researching and sourcing the underlying sources, designing the exhibition, and writing all the storyboards, scripts, story texts, and captions for the 21 exhibition chapters. The exhibition is available in English, French and German.
The team around Stefan Krebs officially launched the exhibition on 28 May 2022. Until the 19 April 2023, 4.968 persons visited the exhibition with 109.183 page views and a very good average engagement time of 4,51 mins. The online exhibition has been featured in many media reports (newspapers, radio, television) and there are several backlinks from other websites including the government portal luxembourg.lu and the website of the Centre National de la Culture Industrielle. In addition, the rich multimedia content of the exhibition is ideal for cross-media productions, e.g. the three episode podcast series with “radio 100,7”.
Multimedia exhibition “Remixing Industrial Pasts”
Minett Stories is part of the research project “Remixing Industrial Pasts in the Digital Age: Sounds, Images, Ecologies, Practices and Materialities in Space and Time” (REMIX), a contribution to the “European Capital of Culture Esch 2022” programme.
The Minett is a region in southern Luxembourg that has been strongly influenced by its industrial past: by the mining of "minette" iron ore and by iron and steel production. The REMIX team investigated seven main topics about the Minett: history of consumption, of the industrial landscape, of housing and living conditions, of industrial photography, of labour migration, the border, regional identity. The research revealed forgotten and hidden aspects of the industrial history of the Minett and its findings were disseminated to an academic audience and the broad public. Beyond Minett Stories, another major research result is the multimedia exhibition “Remixing Industrial Pasts: Constructing the Identity of the Minett” which took place at the Massenoire exhibition hall in Belval from the 27 February to the 15 May 2022. Visitors travelled through the region’s industrial past in a time machine whose audiovisual narrative unfolded around three main themes: industry, people and landscapes.
Using analogue slide projections and audio collages, a remix of fragmented stories was presented throughout the exhibition hall: the violent erasure of natural landscapes by industrial sites; the relentless growth and transformation of industrial towns; the contemporary perception of pollution; the housing and living conditions of men and women coming to the area in the hope of finding a better life for themselves and their families; the self-perception, meaning-making and identity disputes that can be found in the region’s rich visual heritage; the sometimes tangible, sometimes intangible impact of the border on the flow of materials, people and ideas. Historical films, photographs and documents, sounds and voices engaged all the senses, turning the industrial history of the Minett into an immersive experience for visitors. The exhibition was realized in collaboration with the artist collective Tokonoma and the studio 2F Architettura.
The exhibition was visited by some 5,000 visitors. We received very good direct feedback from visitors, many were emotionally touched by the immersive time travel through the Minett’s history. The exhibition was also featured in many press reports in newspapers, radio and television.
Solving riddles with the "Minett Stories Rallye"
Accompanying the opening of the exhibition “Remixing Industrial Pasts: Constructing the identity of the Minett” at the Massenoire exhibition hall, the C²DH launched a new digital treasure hunt: the Minett Stories Rallye. Under the direction of Sandra Camarda, the rallye was developed in collaboration with the VR/AR Lab of the University of Luxembourg, the mobile game took the players on a journey through the old landmarks and relics of the former Ironworks of Belval. Solving riddles and following a trail of clues led to the discovery of nine secret locations connected to the history of Belval’s industrial past.
The rallye extended the exhibition outside the walls of the Massenoire, strengthening its connections to the territory and its stories, while providing an experience that is both fun and educational. The first five people who completed the treasure hunt received a grand prize, additional rewards were given to the other successful players.The rallye took place from February to October and the total number of players was 405.
About Remixing Industrial Pasts in the Digital Age (REMIX)
REMIX was a research project funded by the European Capital of Culture Esch2022 asbl. The core team consisted of A-Prof. Dr. Stefan Krebs (PI), PD Dr. Werner Tschacher (coordinator), Dr. Julia Harnoncourt, Dr. Jens van de Maele, Dr. Maxime Derian (post-doctoral researchers), Lars Schönfelder (designer), Viktoria Boretska (R&D specialist), Irene Portas, Daniel Richter (PhD candidates) and Audrey Sapet (secretary).
21 Erzählungen aus über 100 Jahren Minett - LUXEMBURGER WORT, 13 JAN. 2023
Esch 1918: Eng brutal Rebellioun, déi séier nees vergiess gouf - RADIO 100.7, 25 Nov. 2022
Minett Stories: Geschichte und Identität des Minetts - Radio 100.7 (LU), 06 Jun. 2022
Minett Stories: eine transmediale Ausstellung über die Geschichte des Minetts - TAGEBLATT, 06 Jun. 2022
Eine transmediale Ausstellung über die Geschichte des Minetts - TAGEBLATT, 05 Jun. 2022
Jusqu'au 15 maï à la Massenoire, Esch-Belval Le Minett: 100 ans de passé industriel, de 1870 à 1970 - LETZEBUERGER VOLLEK, 12 May 2022
EXPO - Remixing Industrial Pasts: Constructing the Identity of the Minett - WOXX, 12 May 2022
À Esch-sur-Alzette, l’histoire ouvrière en sa cathédrale - LE JOURNAL DES ARTS, 1 avr. 2022
Ein Jahrhundert Industriegeschichte - LUXEMBURGER WORT, 26 Mar. 2022
From Boom to Bust: the History of Industrial Regions (1870-1970 and beyond) - H|Soz|u|Kult, 9 Mar. 2022
Rote Erde, graue Masse und bunte Ausstellungen - TAGEBLATT, 28 Feb. 2022
Le passé de Belval «remixé» - LE QUOTIDIEN, 28 Feb. 2022
Remixing Industrial Pasts: Constructing the Identity of the Minett - WOXX, 24 Feb. 2022
ESCH2022, REMIX OPENING Grand projet participatif au Luxembourg - LES AFFICHES D'ALSACE ET DE LORRAINE, 18 Feb. 2022