25 things to do in Belgium this weekend

Season openings, art fairs, exhibitions, music festivals, conferences and birthday celebrations. The weekend has landed, and it’s going to be a big one for art-lovers.

THURSDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER

(Art) Brussels Gallery Weekend, throughout Brussels
Kicking-off the new season’s contemporary art shows, Brussels Gallery Weekend, that celebrates its 10th edition this year, unites galleries, institutions, artist-run spaces and non-profits around a three-day long inaugural program. Get yourself a good pair of walking shoes for this one.

More info on the website here.

(Art) Rinus Van de Velde @ Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp
Although it might still be a little premature to compare him to the Borremans and Tuymans of this word, Van de Velde’s signature large-format charcoals have, in the space of just a few years, firmly established the Leuven-born, Antwerp-based artist as one of the decade’s most prized and prolific Belgian talents. Characterised by a tendency to suggest interpretations to his detailed drawings by way of small, anecdotal captions anointed at the bottom of each canvas, Van de Velde’s work is underpinned by existential musings as well as autobiographical references. This new solo exhibition at Tim Van Laere shows an entirely new series of works – essential.

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(Design) Design September, throughout Brussels until end of September
Brussels’ yearly design rendez-vous, Design September continues in its quest to unite the country’s makers, creators and thinkers around a chocker-blocked program of exhibitions, workshops, open studios, talks and fairs. Highlights include 100% Made in Brussels – a month-long locals only Fablab workshop -, the annual Belgium is Design exhibition dedicated to emerging Belgian design talent as well as “Panorama. A history of Belgian design from Art Nouveau until the 1980s,” an exhibition held at ADAM. Ettore Sottsass’ exquisite collection of enamels is also on show at Brussels’ Italian Cultural Institute.

Full program on the website here

(Art) Sébastien Bonin: Le Désespoir des singes @ Island, Brussels
The Ixelles-based artist most known for his photography showcases an equally intimate selection of paintings at artist-run gallery space Island, that’s recently made the move from the moneyed neighbourhood of Chatelain to the more middle-to-working class dwellings of Etterbeek. With a body of work steeped deep in personal meaning and references, this exhibition sees Bonin continue his explorations outside the realms of photography and try his hand at painting. The result is a series of oil-on-canvas works that offer snapshot impressions of close-ups – soft, clouded and opaque.

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(Art) Nel Aerts’ limited Billboard Series edition @ artlead, Brussels
Coinciding with her new Billboard Series in Ghent, loosely based on an early painting depicting a self-portrait of herself, the artist Nel Aerts’ presents an edition at a specially-scouted pop-up space, where other editions of the curatorial platform will also be available.

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(Art) Chris Burden “Piracy vol.1” @ Superdakota, Brussels
In the mid-70s, Chris Burden bought himself some media space on a few TV channels, and created a series of commercials that were aired. The result – Through the Night Softly, Poem for L.A., Chris Burden Promo and Full Financial Disclosure – offers a damning, smart and subversive commentary on intrinsic pillars of American society. Essential.

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(Art) Sanam Khatibi – Rivers in your mouth @ Rodolphe Janssen
With a body of work that includes paintings, embroideries, tapestries and sculptures, the work of Brussels-based Iranian-born artist Sanam Khatibi deals essentially with bestiality and humans’ primal impulses, her intricate paintings succinctly depicting the contradictions and cruelty of hierarchies. Exploring the often-fraught relationship between triumph and failure, Khatibi’s work layers notions of excess, loss of control, domination and submission against exotic landscapes to dizzying effect. One of the local scene’s rising talents – don’t sleep.

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(Art) Hans Bellmer, Sascha Braunig, Matthew Ronay @ Office Baroque, Brussels
20th Century German Surrealist artist Hans Bellmer is arguably best known for La Poupée, a series of photographs of the provocative piece-it-together female dummy. Using his body of work as the contextual starting point, Canadian Sascha Braunig and American Matthew Ronay – both based in New York – showcase their respective perplexing abstractions in the Place du Jardin aux Fleurs venue. Braunig deals in bright, illusionary paintings which blur the boundaries between the abstract and figuratively definite whilst Ronay’s sculptures in an assortment of vivacious hues play on folk and indigenous elements. The best things come in threes. At the same time, the gallery’s midtown space on Rue Ravenstein will also be showing work by Davis Rhodes.

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(Music) La Vallée 2nd birthday @ La Vallée, Brussels
To mark its second anniversary, Molenbeek’s La Vallée marks the occasion by putting on a weekend-long jamboree of festivities which kick off Thursday with the opening of the exhibition Zoveel Many Trees >< Abattre. Friday sees DJ sets by DC Salas, Pétucal black sperm and Prince Off as well as live concerts by Dragan Markovic and Marie Reiter. Saturday is for workshops, whilst Sunday is BBQ day, with music selected by Bonnefoi’s own Boochie.

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(Art) Steps and Marches by Marcin Dudek @ Harlan Levey Projects, Brussels
“Framed thumbnail-sized photographs drawn from Dudek’s personal archive depict a sequence of events in the lead-up to a violent stadium riot.” Taken directly from the gallery’s own texts, this sentence perfectly sums up the undertones in Dudek’s work, with this particular series retracing the artist’s steps as a teenage member of a cracovia football fan club. The third solo exhibition of the artist at Harlan Levey, and one you don’t want to miss.

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(Art) Musée de la photo de Bruxelles Museum van de Fotografie van Brussel @ WIELS, Brussels
In a bid to reinforce Brussels’ inexcusable lack of a proper photography museum, Recyclart shows the photographic works of exclusively Belgian artists at WIELS, during the latter’s annual art book fair. Expect works by Word-favourites David Widart, Thomas Nolf, Michele Matyn, Hana Miletic, Pauline Miko, Olivier Cornil, Lara Gasparatto, Miles Fischler and many more.

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(Architecture) CIVA Thursdays: Oana Bogdan @ CIVA, Brussels
Continuing in its series of guided tours and talk as part of its current exhibition Change the City & Corporate Arcadia, CIVA welcomes to the lantern esteemed architect Ooan Bogdan, founding partner at Bodgan & Van Broeck, a research-orientated Belgian architectural practice.

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(Art) Sebastian Black My Interests @ C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G, Brussels
Explaining his vision for his solo show to C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G’s team, New York-based artist Sebastian Black had this to say, thumb-typos included: “The plan is that after we have decided on the paintings placement, I’d like for us all to take turns being blindfolded and placing the title stickers on the backs of the paintings. It’s a game like pin the tail on the donkey that I’ll be filming on India’s fancy cinema camera and the result will be projected in the back room on the left side. As you know the titles of the works have become rather long. This show will feature some of the longest yet. Also they have become narratives of a sort. Therefore I call them Tales (like stories) which is of course a pun with Tails (like things that swing from animal asses).” Both intriguing and promising.

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FRIDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER

(Music) Deep in the Woods, Heer
A favourite amongst young families, this festival held at the start of September delights by mere design, its entire concept centred around its magical location deep in the heart of the forest of Heer. Beyond its unique setting, the weekender also distinguishes itself through its broadly-defined line-up – US-based singer-songwriter Waxahatchee, revered Belgian musician Mauro Pawlowski and Monolithe Noir were all confirmed at the time of going to press – as well as its holistic take on festivals, one which includes yoga sessions, a series of promenades and, wait for it, saunas. Tickets tend to go fast so grab them whilst you still can.

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(Music) Horst Festival
Perfectly combining electronic music with contemporary art, HORST festival – nestled on the grounds of a gated caste surrounded by water just outside of Leuven – has consistently delighted festival-goers with its tight line ups and trans-disciplinary take on the festival experience. This year’s edition features both established and lesser-known although nonetheless exciting acts, from Motor City Drum Ensemble, Mehmet Aslan and Funkineven to Nosedrip, Red Greg and Wwwater What’s more, our very own Word DJs and selectors (Offshore §, Nobuo and Nicholas Lewis) will be manning the decks at the festival’s camp site from 9h to 13 then on the Podium Pile Pavilion, so make sure to come through and say hi.

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(Art) WIELS art book fair @ WIELS, Brussels
For its third edition, the WIELS art book fair continues in its quest to unite the best of independent publishing, bringing together artists, publishers, collectors and amateurs. Expect books, lots of them, as well as a complementary program of presentations and lectures. Medeor’s latest issue will also be presented during the fair.

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(Music) Meakusma Festival, Kulturzentrum Alter Schlachthof, Eupen
Known for its exquisite tastes, the Meakusma tribe returns to the festival stage with the second edition of their three-day schedule of off-kilt electronic music deep in the Eastern fringes of the country, at the crossroads between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. With a line-up that reads like a who’s who of the avant-garde and contemporary, this weekend’s bill includes Roman Hiele, Spencer Clark and Lieven Martens (all of which will be performing a special set together), Errorsmith, Vladimir Ivkovic and, a personal favourite of ours, pianist and composer Dominique Lawalrée – a precursor of musique concrete in Belgium, marking his long-awaited return to the stage. Absolutely essential.

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SATURDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER

(Fair) Brussels’ Mineral and Fossil fair @ Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Professionals, amateurs, collectors and the curious-minded congregate at the annual fair dedicated, as its name suggests, to minerals, fossils and semi-precious stone. The best place to get an estimate on those stones you bagged at a garage sale.

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(Art) Art on Paper @ Bozar, Brussels
It’s all in the title really as far as this one’s concerned. Brussels’ annual fair for art drawn or made with paper, spread out across five days and bringing together some of the driving forces – galleries, curators and artists – in the genre.

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SUNDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER

(Urban planning) How do Buildings Care @ La Loge, Brussels
In common architectural discourse, relatively little attention is paid to the embodied, affective and relational aspects of site and space. La Loge addresses this gap by inviting artists, theorists and architects to critically explore architecture in relation to social and affective intensities. The series of three events is centered around a program of films, performances and lectures.

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ANOTHER FIVE ESSENTIAL ANTWERP OPENINGS NOT TO MISS:
– Photographer Bruno V. Roels @ Fifty One Fine Art Gallery on Thursday 7th September
– Sim Cha’s wax cabinet @ Ruimte Muorgen on Thursday 7th September
– Nocturnal trail through Antwerp’s southern galleries on Thursday 7th September
– Collecting Dust, Drawings, Debt – Sven ‘t Jolle @ Plus One on Thursday 7th September
– Group show Extra Citizen @ Extracity on Friday 8th September