Fear. Turning in on ourselves. Populist moves introducing a new moral order. All reflexes in the face of societies dominated on the one hand by growth and (over-)production and on the other by uncertainty and fragility. In recent months several democracies seem to have been focusing on repressive measures and processes concerning legitimacy. The task of art and culture – accessories to and victims of this alarming development – is to put creativity back at the centre of our lives and to rediscover – in complete freedom – a vital beating heart capable of enlivening our worlds.
In Brussels an arts festival takes place for three weeks in May. A festival gambling on a combination of demanding, uncompromising artistic creation and a broad audience. A festival that has no central theme, but has all kinds of specific content. A festival that is focused not on a specific art form or particular aesthetic family, but is open to the multiple visions of international creators acting and reacting today.
A festival that emphasises not one single viewpoint on the arts and the world, but that attempts to provide a broad and inviting space of discovery. A festival spread across the city. A city whose elusive but undeniable character, subject to much criticism and misunderstanding, is its inspiration. A festival in Brussels’ image: complex, multifarious, multilingual.
Our societies are becoming segmented, our knowledge and practices more specialised. In her project Lecture for Every One, Sarah Vanhee undertakes to address everyone. For three weeks and without advance notice, she will be infiltrating different groups accustomed to meeting in the city. Beyond the space marked out by the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, she will be inviting herself into various “communities” to deliver a lecture for everyone about everyone… Does a shared frame of reference still exist today?
In new works from Kris Verdonck and Claude Schmitz, imagination clashes with actual experience, subject to the constraints of the outside world. Free speech and the creative act, forces of the imagination and utopia seem to offer a key to interpreting several creations on the bill this year. Joris Lacoste / L’Encyclopédie de la Parole and Sanja Mitrović dissect discursive strategies, while Markus Öhrn and Tiago Rodrigues touch on the limits of freedom of expression. Does a reality subjugated by language or censorship allow space for individual thought? At the heart of this question is the European continent: reunified Germany with She She Pop and the former Yugoslavia with Sarah Vanagt.
Argentinian Mariano Pensotti questions the possibility of fiction within reality. Do fictions really mirror the world or does art construct individuals? The relationship between the self and the world, between the inside and the outside, lie at the heart of the great film-maker Chantal Akerman’s work, who will create a new installation and performance at the festival.
The Kunstenfestivaldesarts offers an intense period of creation, encounter, exchange and celebration. It places direct experience at its core, allowing some thirty works to be discovered, most of which are having their world premiere here. Established artists rub shoulders with relatively unknown creators, all singular voices, from here or elsewhere, expressing themselves in the present.
In May 2013, Heiner Goebbels, the master of music theatre, will be presenting his latest work conceived for an outstanding vocal ensemble of young women. Japan’s Toshiki Okada, a remarkable leading figure in theatre today and highly regarded by this festival, will be staging a world premiere. And alongside these leading artists, audiences will have the opportunity of discovering works by unknown directors such as Brazil’s Christiane Jatahy.
Two unmissable dance events will also be taking place: a new choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker that she is performing with Boris Charmatz, and a new work (and much-anticipated return after five years!) by the highly talented Brazilian artist Bruno Beltrão. The singularities of dance, profoundly part of real-life experience, have also been created by artists from North Africa (Selma & Sofiane Ouissi and Bouchra Ouizguen) and from South America (in Marcelo Evelin’s staggering new performance).
In our endeavour to contribute to making artistic creation part of the world and part of our everyday experience as citizens, we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to all our partners who have made this project possible. They enliven the Kunstenfestivaldesarts and make it with us. We warmly invite you to join us in enlivening and making this festival of the arts and of living beings.
Christophe Slagmuylder and the team of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts