Visiting the Kunstenfestivaldesarts 2017

By Anna Lucchinetti

Since 1994, the Kunstenfestivaldesarts has been a cultural and social extravaganza in which the Brussels community comes together to see what artists from all over the world have created. The festival lasts for approximately three weeks, and takes place in copious locations throughout Brussels. This year, the festival proposes a jam-packed schedule of different forms of art including, dance, videos, paintings, sculpture, photography and theatre. The choice is endless.


Aside from artistic enrichment, walking from one show to the other enables an original way for tourists to explore less touristic venues, and discover beautiful performance spaces. For example, The Absent Museum’s exhibition displays pieces of work by contemporary artists, which treat the theme of a multicultural society and inserts them into the urban environment of the three buildings, WIELS, Brass and Métropole. The events are numerous and differ in style, theme and aesthetic. One of my favourite of the shows, proposes an installation organised by the prestigious dance school P.A.R.T.S., where forty-six students create their own solos and present them to the audience who walk around the beautiful studios of the Rosas Performance Space. Slugs Garden, another installation created by Fabián Barba and Esteban Danoso, allows the audience to play with objects and explore their sense of touch. An alternative performance displays some of the sixty-eight ‘living books’ existing in the world: people who have memorised an entire book, and aim to tell their stories to their audience. This is a one-by-one experience, which can be in different languages such as, English, French, German and Italian.


This year, the festival includes many dance shows produced by internationally acclaimed choreographers, including, Eszter Salamon (Monument 0.6: Landing: A ritual of Empathy), Mykki Blanco (Bacchae), Marlene Monteiro Freitas (Prelúdio para uma purga), Marcelo Evelin and his Demolition Inc. (Dança Doente). I had the chance to assist two of these performances. Salamon’s performance was set in an outdoor space and it aimed to reproduced a ritual, consisting of dances and songs from the South American Mapuche tribe. The most interesting aspect of this performance is that the audience are made to feel out of place. The performers move around the space, gliding through the audience, and even moving them. When the performance finished, some of the performers were so caught by the euphoria that they did not realise the performance had ended.

Another performance I went to see was Demoltion Inc.’s Dança Doente. This was the boldest performance I have ever seen in my life. Not only because, in most of the scenes, the dancers were performing naked, but also because the music choice and the aggressive dance style, created a disturbing environment where the audience felt uncomfortable and trapped. Some people left the theatre during the performance, while some others expressed their dislike at the end. Personally, I cannot say I loved the performance because it was challenging in many ways. However, Dança Doente made me think about art and its sake. We live in an era where art does not aim to be aesthetically pleasant, but through history, art has been disturbing, thought-provoking and politically engaged. For example, the avant-gardes were not welcomed by the public when they started rising in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. However, they have changed the world and the way we conceive art and its purpose. The Kunstenfestivaldesarts reminded me that art does not have to be beautiful to be ‘successful’. It has to be memorable, it needs to stick in the head of the audience and show them something new or that incites a change. The Kunstenfestivaldesarts was successful to me.


Anna Lucchinetti

Images courtesy of Kunstenfestivaldesarts

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