Bozar’s bi-annual platform for international photography kicked of on 14th June, uniting over 30 museums and other cultural organisations in a two month-long programme of exhibitions and talks around one central theme – landscape. In its fourth edition, the biennial spreads out across Brussels, Antwerp, Charleroi, Ostend, Knokke-Heist and Hornu. Here, we select four shows to be pencilled into your agendas.
1. Sense of place
Drawing on more than 160 works from 40 European photographers, this exhibition, the festival’s main one, takes a look at the evolving nature of the relationship between man and environment. More specifically, the show seeks to illustrate how today’s landscape has been shaped by the modern day realities of a post-industrial society marred by concerns for its environmental future. Traditionally a focal point of photography, landscapes as we knew them have drastically changed over the years – appropriated, manipulated and redefined to suit man’s many needs – and, with that, so to has our interactions with them. Demonstrating the importance of the surroundings in shaping the individual, the show is separated into three geographical sections – Northern, Central and Mediterranean Europe – and proves that Europe isn’t merely a political space, but also a place with personal meaning.
2. Bamako encounters
This ninth edition of the internationally reputed Rencontres de Bamako has as its central theme “For a sustainable world”. Drawing on over 280 photographs and 10 videos, the show reveals the underbelly of European landscapes, presenting a diverse regional view of horizons that serve to illustrate the environmental situation on the African continent. With the customary poetic narrative African photographers have been known for, the exhibition exemplifies the interconnectedness of landscapes in today’s globalised world, proving that what happens in Europe is of importance in Africa, and vice-versa. One of the strongest initiatives to grow out of the continent, and one which has done more than any other to establish Africa as an art force to be reckoned with, especially in terms of its photographic talent.
3. De Buren (The neighbours)
Brussels-based couple Merel ’t Hart and Luk Vander Plaetse have been roaming The Netherlands’ urban landscape in a rented trailer for the past two years now, exploring notions of Dutch chastity and freedom through their mesmerising series on a very specific architectural characteristic: the large window panes of Dutch houses that allow, invite nearly, passers-by to peer through. A striking statement of independence and transparency, the photographs capture houses and their inhabitants at dusk, when natural light disappears and artificial light takes over. A painstaking work of research and authorisation requests, the work, a series of large format prints, is exhibited in Brussels for the first time.
4. Viewpoint – Point of view
Inspired by the series Barriers-European Neighbouring, that documented the evolving function of borders in Europe, the exhibition Viewpoint-Point of View sees life from a tourist standpoint. Taking as starting point the areas from which tourists photograph certain landscapes, the images on show emphasise the imposed and dictated way in which we are told to view certain landscapes. With a focal point and a picture frame pre-determined for us, the comfort of the viewer seems to lie in the restriction of choice in viewpoints. Four images from the original series will be shown alongside new work, all presented by photographer Michiel De Cleene.