Part I: What is It That Makes Today’s Belgium so Different So Appealing?
“Don't believe the hype!” warned Public Enemy in 1988, but the power of “hype” is stronger than ever in today’s hyperlinked reality. What is the truth behind the rumours that Brussels is the “new Berlin”? What does that mean for the Belgian art world and for the flux of newcomers flooding into the country? Is it merely a case of affordable housing and studio space, or is there something fundamentally fertile about Belgian cultural soil? Exhibitions such as "Being, in Brussels" (Argos, 2006) and "Expats & Clandestines" (Wiels, 2007) explored the rich and charged mixture of artists living and working in Brussels, and the impact that the city had on their practice. What is the situation now, six years later, when Belgium is just one centre of a reconfigured Europe, yet is increasingly present on the international scene? How does the context in which we operate affect what we do, when artists are said to be post-studio and curators are portrayed as hyper-connected, rootless yet flexible workers of the creative sector? Bringing together a collection of foreign Belgians – either newly arrived or with deep roots in the country’s art scene – this panel explores the factors behind the country’s longstanding and recently reinvigorated appeal.
Speakers: Nav Haq, Curator at MuHKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; Zin Taylor, artist, Brussels; Gabriel Kuri, artist, Brussels/Mexico City
Moderated by Zoe Gray, independent curator, Brussels
Part II Brussels: Marriage of Convenience or Love Match?
For some years now, many foreign artists have been moving to Brussels. This phenomenon has been accompanied by the arrival of quite a few international galleries, which have also been attracted by the advantages the city offers – including rents that are quite low – as well as by the fact that Belgium is known to have the greatest number of collectors per square metre. And that reputation has continued to grow, as numerous foreign collectors, attracted by Belgium's fiscal facilities, have also come to live in Brussels, making the city an important nerve centre. At least that is what is widely stated – but is it true? Is the city's attractiveness solely due to economic causes? For, more than in any other city, the private sector has been crucial in relation to contemporary art and over recent years it has been projects emerging from the private sector that have made up for the failings of the public sector. So has the marriage of convenience developed, in some cases, into a love match that finds its expression in the mushrooming of private exhibition spaces and galleries? It seems clear that it has – as most of those key players, having moved to Brussels, have discovered the wide range of possibilities offered by a city that is at once vibrant and unassuming, multicultural and provincial…to the extent that it has now supplanted Antwerp in the affections of lovers of contemporary art.
Speakers: Dimitri Jeurissen , CEO, BaseDesign, Brussels/Barcelona/New York/Santiago de Chile; Petra Kuipers, director, Motive Gallery, Brussels; Anne-Claire Schmitz, director, La Loge, Brussels
Moderated by Virginie Devillez, curator, Archives of Contemporary Art, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
Immediately followed by launch of the Brussels Art Guide at 15.00 in the presence of the authors Sam Steverlynck, journalist & art critic, Valerie Verhack, assistant curator, Museum M, Leuven, and editor Guy de Bellefroid
With the help of a varied panel of guests, the authors of the Brussels Art Guide will set out to answer the questions that have come up in the course of their encounters with the key players of the Brussels art scene.
The Brussels Art Guide is an initiative of the Fondation pour les Arts/Stichting Voor de Kunsten
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