In a common statement, 275 artists and cultural workers share their view on the future of Kaaitheater: “We appeal to the board of Kaaitheater and the persons involved in the selection process for its new director to take into account the broader consequences their decision will have for the future of artistic life in Brussels and Flanders. (…) Our concern is especially directed to younger generations of artists who are at risk of starting in a cultural landscape which is no longer able to support and to nourish their trajectories.”
American dancer and choreographer Trajal Harrel marks his first appearance at Brussels’s renowned Kunstenfestivaldesarts (KFDA) with a show which borders performing arts and visual art. Made up of two parts: Dancer of the Year and Dancer of the Year Shop—the former, a dance performance, the latter, an installation-performance—the show’s interdisciplinary nature resonates with the recent 2019 edition of Performatik, the Brussels biennale for ‘live art’, which has just ended.
A bust of Aristotle stares out at the audience. A vaguely Romantic-style landscape depicting men riding horses next to snarling dogs hangs from the ceiling. I have no idea which exact painting it is but that hardly matters. It’s familiar, as if it were from any gallery in Europe. In amongst this miniature impression of a museum, Thomas Bellinck sits on one of those typical minimalist-style benches commonly found in museums. Bellinck is no stranger to these spaces, having already created a future museum to the former European Union in his previous work ‘Domo de Eŭropa Historio en Ekzilo’ (‘House of European History in Exile’). This new work provides ample critique of the cultural institutions that uphold the Europe’s problematic version of history.
‘Penelope Sleeps’ begins in medias res. Three performers, lying as though dead onstage, and a small harmonium plus, I suspect, a Casiotone await you when you enter. You too take a seat onstage, the audience forming a semicircle around the performers, and you look out into the darkened auditorium where you usually sit during a theatre performance. Still lying with her back on the floor, Mette Edvardsen starts telling a story about a small spider in her parents’ guest room and the fear that this type of arthropod fills her with. Telling comes down to reading aloud: both Edvardsen and the audience see the text projected in three languages on a small screen that hangs front right.
Deux spectacles annulés dans le même festival à Gand à cause de refus de visas: il y a un problème avec la mobilité internationale des artistes. Surtout quand ces artistes adressent dans leur travail des questions importantes concernant le passé colonial de la Belgique, tout en montrant la richesse de la scène congolaise. Gia Abrassart nous propose ici une déambulation réflexive en compagnie du chorégraphe Faustin Linyekula et du metteur en scène Michael Disanka. Deux générations au coude à coude. Le corps et la respiration comme territoires ultimes à occuper et le Congo comme acte vital pour honorer des héros anonymes : les danseurs du ballet national du Zaïre dans Histoire(s) du Théâtre II et la jeunesse congolaise dans Sept Mouvements Congo.
In August of 2014, artist, writer and storyteller Ogutu Muraya moved from Nairobi to Amsterdam to begin a Master’s degree in Theatre at the Academy of Theatre and Dance. During his stay in the Netherlands, both as a student and a graduate, he started a practice of writing at least 200 words a day. He was not always successful in reaching his target, but he maintained the practice periodically and plans to keep it going until he moves out of Amsterdam, back to Nairobi, on July 5th 2019, when his current residency permit expires. This exercise started as a way to map and locate his inner self against an unfamiliar backdrop and over time grew into a personal archive with over 150,000 words. Muraya is in the process now of returning to this archive with the aim of reconstructing the texts into a kind of fragmented memoir essay where he seeks to understand the challenges of his diaspora experience.
Since October 2018 Dries Douibi and Daniel Blanga Gubbay form, together with Sophie Alexandre, the new directors of Kunstenfestivaldesarts. Since 1994, the bilingual festival brings performance artists from all over the world to Brussels. How does the new team deal with the relationship between the local and the international in a superdiverse city? How to make sure that international artists can really leave their trace and avoid exotification?