Nestled in between the countryside villages of Mullem, Huise, Wannegem and Lede deep in the Flemish Ardennes, Pass, one of the most ambitious, inspiring and game-changing group show opened to the public this weekend. Taking in churches, fields, off-the-beaten-track alleyways and even a private indoor basketball court, some of the biggest and brightest names in contemporary Belgian art today – Michael Borremans, Dirk Braeckman, Robert Devriendt and Xavier Mary to name a few – unite to create what is, without a doubt, one of the most awe-inspiring and engaging shows we’ve seen a while. Here are our highlights, including the moment we all started dancing to Enya in a church.
Our visit began at the church in Wannegem, where you’ll also be able to buy your tickets as well as a map of the itinerary – useful, despite the show’s flash-red ribbons meant to guide you through the 10km walk). The church features, on its outer wall, an oversized photograph by Tine Guns that is so perfectly intertwined with its host that we nearly missed it.
On our way to the next village, we stumbled upon a bronze sculpture by Fernando Sanchez Castilla that sat in the middle of a small, forgotten parcel of land in between two houses.
Then, walking a little further along the same road, a Xavier Mary installation we first saw at Brussels’ CAB popped up out of nowhere like a surprise out of a Kinder. Upon closer inspection, it actually was sitting, all alone, in an indoor basketball court. You cannot even begin to imagine how ‘wowed’ we were.
Further on, a stunning installation set at the tip of a field by Tim Volckaert gave us the perfect occasion to have a break and take in the landscape. Describing it as as window onto the world would indeed be a bit corny, but in this case it really is the only fitting description.
Arriving in Lede, we walked into the village’s church where we were directly led to its sacristy. Inside, a couple of David Claerbout paintings were immaculately, and every so subtly, exhibited. Whether our excitement was due to the powerful work or the fact that they were shown in the priest’s private quarters, who knows? What matters is that the sum of each part made sense.
Straddling on, we came up to a chapel in the middle of the fields where a bronze sculpture by Michael Borremans made in 2015 rested, idle. There’s something rather surreal about being left alone to admire a Borremans with nothing but fields all around you and the occasional bicycle peloton passing by.
We then walked past a farm where several of Gent-based artist Adelheide de Witte’s minute paintings were exhibited ever so discreetly in one of its barns. Somehow, the choice of location simply worked.
And finally, our treasure trail ended at Mullen’s church, where Dirk Braeckman and Robbert Devriendt’s series of photographs and paintings respectively both left a lasting impression. Braeckman for the manner in which his work effortlessly blended in with the church, and Devriendt for the cheer cheekiness of his choice of subject given the setting. Then, all of a sudden and just when we thought we had seen it all, Enya’s Orinoko Flow starting playing out of the church’s PA system and, well, it was pure magic. We first stared at each other in bewilderment then, not knowing what to do, started dancing.Pass runs on weekends until 5th July. Check passs.be for more information.