24 things to do in Belgium this weekend

Art marathons in Brussels, spacebubbles in Antwerp and minimal jazz in Ghent.

1. Wednesday 19th April: (DYS)-TROPISM at Super Dakota, Brussels

The intuitive disillusionment following the dismal year that was 2016 urged Brussels’ Super Dakota gallery to invite a diverse group of artists to reflect on the current dystopian state of the world. A self-described dialogue on culture, politics, environmental issues and technologies, established as well as emerging artists from around the globe come together not to commiserate, but to react on current crises through different disciplines. The exhibition features works by Sarah Abu Abdallah (1990, Saudi Arabia), Juliette Bonneviot (1983, France), Chris Dorland (1978, Canada), Celine Gillain (Belgium), Peter Nagy (1959, USA), !Mediengruppe Bitnik (Switzerland), Jaakko Pallasvuo (1987, Finland), Adriana Ramic (1989, USA), Ariane Schick (1984, UK), Jasper Spicero (1990, USA), Barbara Westermann (1958, Germany). And even though the exhibition’s official opening was yesterday, you can still have a look at the works on display until 27th May

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2. Wednesday 19th – Thursday 20th April: Artists’ Estates, A legacy at Bozar, Brussels

An international conference, hosted at Bozar in collaboration with NICC, Flanders Art Institute, Art Brussels and Estate Philippe Vandenberg on the legacy of visual artists. Through and extensive programme that compiles talks, conferences and workshops, visitors learn all about the crucial task of safeguarding tomorrow’s cultural heritage. Essential.

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3. Wednesday 19th April: Gert & Uwe Tobias at Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels

Rodolphe Janssen invites twin brothers Gert and Uwe Tobias for their fifth solo exhibition at the Brussels gallery who, through the technique of xylography, relief sculptures, drawings and ceramics, explore the heritage and mythology of their native Romania, combining ancient crafts with more contemporary and conceptual imagery. Whether via giant woodcuts or life-size wall-mounted paintings, the duo’s visual framework plays on the often tenuous field between geometric abstraction and folkloric narratives, merging line and shape with decorative and domestic elements such as patterns and embroidery. Currently based out of Cologne in Germany, Gert and Uwe Tobias’ body of work manages to create a powerful visual portrayal of the intricacy of contemporary cultural identity. Opened yesterday, runs until 10th June.

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4. Wednesday 19th – Sunday 23rd April: Independent at Vanderbroght building, Brussels

After its successful Brussels debut last year, New York art fair Independent comes back to mesmerising downtown location Vanderborght once again. A show more than a fair, and one that’s more cosy and that doesn’t take as much of a physical toll on you as Art Brussels does, we’re especially looking forward to seeing what Antwerp’s Tim Van Laere and new kid on the block Trampoline have in stall, as well as the usual Brussels suspects Super Dakota, Gladstone, Clearing and Office Baroque.

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5. Wednesday 19th April: Lionel Estève at Albert Baronian, Brussels

The work of Lionel Estève oscillates at the intersections of drawing, sculpture and installation. Playing with space, colour and sensory perception by making use of unexpected materials such as guitar strings and mirrors, Estève once said “I see my artworks as something mental. I hope they come alive in the same way in the minds of the public. I don’t expect people to understand, but I want my work to lighten their spirits.” Born in France and based in Belgium for more than 20 years now, Albert Baronian presents Estève’s sixth solo show at his Brussels gallery space for yet another compelling experience that gambles on the perceptible and imperceptible. Runs until 27th May

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6. Wednesday 19th April: Carte Blanche of the Sarajevo film festival at Bozar, Brussels

Another year, another Balkan Trafik Festival – and the team is showing no signs of slowing down. Part of the programme includes Carte blanche film screenings from the Sarajevo Film Festival; a mini curation of the increasingly praised Balkan cinema scene. Bozar will be screening (and inviting!) Mehmet Can Mertoglu’s Albüm, a poignant remark on kinship, love and adoption.

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7. Wednesday 19th April: Shelters exhibition at LaVallée, Brussels

At just a stone’s throw away from the bustle Art Brussels, Molenbeek multidisciplinary space LaVallée hosts the Shelters group exhibition. Built by no less than 30 local (and not so local) artists, Shelters offers an intricate hideout, and a collectively constructed safe space. Whisper, don’t shout.

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8. Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rd April: Art Brussels at Tour & Taxis, Brussels

Reinforcing Brussels’ position as a global centre for contemporary art, Art Brussels once again takes in Tour & Taxis for three days of discoveries, courtesy of nearly 150 galleries from more than a dozen different countries. While its size and extent might seem daunting at first, we’d suggest braving the crowds – whether you’re taking something home or not – as the juggernaut of a fair remains one of the best ways to keep your finger on the art pulse.

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9. Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rd April: Poppositions at ING Art Center, Brussels

For the sixth year in a row, Poppositions – the art fair that isn’t really an art fair – comes to Brussels, bringing together 21 galleries, project spaces and artists’ initiatives. Despite being somewhat of an underdog in the city’s art fair frenzy, Poppositions, what with its critical stance towards the art world, remains more relevant than ever. Content over commerce, this edition’s baseline reads ‘Don’t agonize, organize!’, for which curator Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk and his jury went on the lookout for artistic proposals challenging the political status quo, going about resistance in their own ways. A timely reminder.

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10. Thursday 20th April: Harold Ancart at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

Belgium-born and New York-based Harold Ancart’s oeuvre isn’t an easy one to define – a large amalgam of disciplines and media come together, resulting in an intricate viewing experience. Often working in-situ, Ancart’s sculptural installations are always distinguished by a spatial and environmental limitation, something Ancart describes as tensions created between different areas of emptiness, rather than a succession of objects to be looked at. For his upcoming solo exhibition, The Charm, at Brussels’ Xavier Hufkens gallery, Ancart will be showing a selection of works on paper and paintings, defined by usage of unlikely materials such as soot and charcoal combined with colourful imagery and photographs, inspired by popular culture and tropical tourism. Essential viewing.

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11. Thursday 20th April: The Absent Museum at WIELS, Brussels

The WIELS centre (not museum) for contemporary art is in for one of its most ambitious undertakings yet. Coinciding with the institution’s tenth anniversary and subtitled ‘a blueprint for a museum of contemporary art for the capital of Europe’, the exhibition is meant to be an exploration of the absence of museums in public debate today. Working its way through recent crises, 45 contemporary and historical artists – including Francis Alÿs, Sammy Baloji and Ann Veronica Janssens – are set to interpret these challenges in an era in which museums are more and more under pressure to fulfil their roles as educator to the public, with WIELS aiming to propose an alternative. Nastio Mosquito’s nightly performance cycle through the old brewery’s many halls is one we’re particularly looking forward to see.

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Marlene Dumas, The Widow

12. Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rd April: After art fair fun at Jane’s, Brussels

From Heartbroken’s Liyo to Austre’s Princess Century, newly installed wine bar Jane’s invites the cream of the crop of Brussels’ local DJs, and offers some much-needed relief and cosy dancing after long days of art fair expeditions. Grab a bite, stay for a drink, and dance until your feet fall off.

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13. Friday 21st April: Punctuations and Perforations at La Verrière, Brussels

Continuing its Ballistic Poetry cycle, Hermès art space La Verrière invites British-born artist Tris Vonna-Michell, who combines research, performance, photography, film and writing. Blending together different storylines, Vonna-Michell transforms narratives in time, space and imagery. Register, the exhibition’s central installation and a slide-show of images and moving sequences, has an almost hypnotic feel to it, and is bound to make a lasting impression. Runs until 1st July.

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14. Friday 21st April: Massimadi at Rainbowhouse, Brussels

The vigorous Massimadi film festival is rightfully celebrating it’s fifth anniversary, and are keeping mum on what they’ve got in store for us this year – until this Friday, that is. The hard-working team will be publically presenting their programme, guests, events, and much more. Go party it up with the Massimadi team in downtown Brussels, and keep your finger on the local film scene pulse.

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15. Friday 21st April: Sophie Von Hellermann at Office Baroque, Brussels

At its downtown Ravenstein location, Office Baroque presents London-based artist Sophie Von Hellermann’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. Lauded for her large-scale canvasses, the artist unravels delicate and romantic storylines, as if taken from dreams. She’ll be presenting a series of new paintings, inspired by the gallery’s name. Runs until 27th May.

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16. Friday 21st April: Ascension – Petr Davydtchenko at Harlan Levey, Brussels

During the Art Brussels gallery night, Harlan Levey invites Russian artist Petr Davydtchenko who’ll be presenting Voznesenie, or Ascension in English. Pervasively showing, through horizontal, vertical and diagonal images of a man rising up from a heavy layer of mud, Davydtchenko challenges perception and explores alternative narratives.

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17. Friday 21st April: Miaux at Les Brigittines, Brussels

A perfectly intimate and highly sentimental showcase by Antwerp-based Casio composer Miaux in a concert-swap between downtown Beursschouwburg and Les Brigittines venues. Not to be missed.

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18. Friday 21st April: Spacebubbles and Princess Nokia at Het Bos, Antwerp

The line-up of the year at Antwerp’s Het Bos, with none less than Princess Nokia, Weird Dust, Hantrax, Liyo, Venus in Cancer, AliA and many, many others. The whole thing rounded off with hologram projections, lots of bubbles and the omnipresent cosy vibes representative of Het Bos. Be there.

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19. Saturday 22nd April: Journée Allee du Kaai Dag, Brussels

Summer’s almost here, and our favourite canalside hangout Allee du Kaai is hosting another one of its now-traditional daylong hangouts. Concerts, DJsets, climbing walls, plant swaps, ping pong biljarts (or whatever may tickle your fancy) – the Toestand team ensures there’s something for everyone at the all-inclusive event.

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20. Saturday 22nd April: Vincen Beekman, A caste made of sand at Fondation A, Brussels

Brussels-based photographer Vincen Beekman met with visitors and residents of the Petit-Château, a Brussels reception centre for asylum seekers and used his camera to engage in a dialogue. From selfies to disposable pictures, Beekman’s exhibition is sure to strike a note with its spectators. A highly engaged, and incredibly relevant effort. Runs until 25th June.

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21. Saturday 22nd April: Kraakpand at Handelsbeurs, Ghent

A self-described musical shuffle, Handelsbeurs’ Kraakpand series invites four bands on stage who then take turns playing. This edition brings together US-born and Belgium-based Matt Watts – who’ll also be presenting his new album -, minimal jazz five-piece Bardo, eclectic post-pop ensemble Momma Said So and Syrian choubi by Yousef Al Iraqi. Innovative and unexpected, just the way we like it.

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22. Saturday 22nd April: Compro Oro at Balades Sonores, Brussels

Celebrating record store day, everyone’s favourite French record store Balades Sonores invited Ghent-based latin jazz ensemble Compro Oro for some exotic vibes, rough guitar riffs and dark grooves.

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23. Saturday 22nd April: What about the children at Damien & The Love Guru, Brussels

Cutting-edge St Gilles / Sint-Gillis art space Damien & The Love Guru invites Canadian artist Julian Hou, who works in audio, digital media, performance and installation, and Italian-born poet artist Tiziana La Melia. Both engage in a highly compelling and emotive performance, alongside DJ Depressed’s downer vibes. Well worth the trip to the south of town.

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24. Saturday 22nd April: Catclub at Vaartdijk, Brussels

Last but not least, Catclub’s true-to-tradition post art fair shindig promises to be the end of an unforgettable weekend, with all-night tunes provided by Feel my Bicep’s Sandboards, an early special by YMY and Catclub regulars Kong & Gratts and Fais Le Beau.

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