15 things to do in Belgium this weekend

Open-air beats in Ghent, darkroom amours in Antwerp, and a strong season for Brussel’s contemporary art scene.

Thursday 14th September: Artemisia at Albert Baronian, Brussels

Daring, unapologetic and bold: the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi cut an impressive figure with her terrifically powerful paintings, carrying blatant feminist themes. With a talent considered equal to Caravaggio, she was one of the very few female artists of her time, gaining respect and recognition for her work from her peers. Albert Baronian gallery takes the iconic artist as starting point for its September exhibition, inviting five equally assertive female artists to its Rue de la Concorde space: the Brussels-based Leen Voet, American painter Marina Adams, Scottish Fiona Mackay, Brooklyn-based Amy Feldman and the Flemish Ilse D’Hollander. An absolute must.

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Thursday 14th September: 10 Years Base-Alpha Gallery in Antwerp

Time moves fast, often quicker than we’d hope for – but anniversaries and milestones are also always a cause of celebration, and should be treated as such. Base-Alpha’s Bart Vanderbiesen set up base (no pun intended) from his Kattenberg residence ten years ago now, and it’s precisely thanks to his tenacity and commitment to local, Belgian artists that such a feat was possible. A group show of his resident artists from the last decade – Geoffrey de Beer, Michèle Matyn, Nadia Naveau, Denie Put, Lieven Segers, Katleen Vinck, Tom Volkaert, Suse Weber – it’ll be overlooking what made Base-Alpha work; as well as provide some hints as to what’s to come for the next season. Go show some love.

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Thursday 14th September: Tracey Emin – The Memory of Your Touch at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

World-renowned provocateur Tracey Emin graces both of Xavier Hufkens’ gallery spaces with an impressively expansive inaugural exhibition. Kick-starting the new season is a broad, multimedia selection of her paintings, sculptures, texts and video that focused on the most recent developments in the Londoner’s long-spanning career. Powerfully heartfelt and never shying away from the emotive, her new works indicate a certain new-found maturity in her depictions of memory, longing, loss and love. A chance to see a true master at work.

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Thursday 14th September: Les Nuits Sonores in Brussels

Lyon’s biggest electronic music festival comes to Brussels for the first time this year, with a debut edition that does much of what its French counterpart has been doing for years, albeit on a smaller scale: programming electronic music that exists at the intersection of the emerging and established spectrums. With a line-up that includes Motor City Drum Ensemble, Raime and The Hacker, as well as locals DC Salas, L’Or du Commun and San Soda, the organisers have clearly opted to play it safe to begin with, although that’s unlikely to minimise the good times guaranteed. A series of talks and debates runs throughout the weekend too.

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Thursday 14th September: Thu Van Tran – Mountains are like the bones of the earth, water is its blood at Meessen De Clercq, Brussels

For her third solo show at Meessen De Clercq, Vietnamese Thu Van Tran presents her new expansive collection of works dissecting the present social mind-frames on time and memories. Employing postcolonial and ethnographic narratives, she seeks to engage the viewer to question the emotive nostalgia of imperialist legacies long gone yet far from forgotten and whose impact endures. From video installations, photos, sculptures and an advertising tarpaulin brought all the way from her hometown Ho Chi Minh City, this is a chance to experience a pensive call for compassion.

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Thursday 14th September: BOZAR Electronic Arts Festival 2017 at BOZAR, Brussels

BOZAR Electronica aren’t messing about with this year’s edition of BEAF – more specific details can be found here. And as if all that weren’t enough, KRAAK are also hosting Sonic Arts Revisted with the likes of David Behrman, Francesco Cavaliere and WIDT.

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Thursday 14th September: Rita McBride – Explorer at WIELS, Brussels

Starting with pieces from the early 90s, WIELS will be exploring the Midwestern industrial sculptress Rita McBride’s interdisciplinary play on architecture, sculpture and design through a concise overview of her expansive career. An admirer of Modernist architecture, the Düsseldorf-based artist’s larger-than-life Explorer exhibition takes full advantage of the former industrial brewery turned contemporary art institution’s space, devising a light-hearted reflection on the utopian projections of this 20th Century “design” phenomenon. A chance to see pieces and installations old and new – some shown for the first time ever in Europe.

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Friday 15th September: De Donkere Kamer #8 at Vooruit, Ghent

Dutch photography live magazine De Donkere Kamer expanded to Belgium last year, and are showing no signs of slowing down. Back for their eight round, DDK are joining forces with Ghent’s Vooruit for their 80 Days of Summer programme. A collection of some of the most exciting photographers in the Benelux region all brought together – treat yourselves.

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Friday 15th September: A tribute to the great DECAP at Les Brigittines, Brussels

Decap organs occupy a special place in the hearts of both experimental Belgian producers and dancefloor old-timers, its reputation as the world’s first truly automated DJ booth – the elaborate constructions, stunning sights in their own right, used in public venues to entertain the masses – a subject of fascination ever since their first appearance in the late 1800s. Paying tribute to this unlikely precursor, Les Ateliers Claus team up with Les Brigittines and ask a tightly-curated selection of musicians – Hiele, Milan W, Köhn and Sagat to name a few – to do it honour. Your cue to see a slice of Belgian history played by today’s talent.

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Friday 15th September: Bill Viola – Purification at The Chapel, Brussels

Having moved temporarily to a new address just a stone’s throw away from the hidden gem of Tenbosch Park, Aeroplastic’s new WASHINGTON186 venue now also boasts The Chapel, a year-round video sanctuary. Gracing the minimalist, spiritual underground space is Bill Viola and his image sequence projections The Purification: the divine metamorphosis and resurrection of manhood and femininity. No stranger to the philosophies of world faiths nor the universally binding human experiences, the Queens native is a true revolutionary in the use of video and technology as cutting-edge contemporary art. An opportunity to ground your beliefs while lifting up your spirits.

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Friday 15th & Saturday 16th September: Mekitburn Festival 2017 at Ruiterijcomplex, Vilvoorde

Any festival that shows a decent amount of love and commitment to the country’s homegrown talent is always guaranteed to win a few extra points in our book, and in that respect Vilvoorde’s Mekitburn festival surpasses even our wildest dreams, its two-day line up entirely dedicated to Belgian rappers, bands, producers and DJs. Featuring local heavyweights Zwangere Guy and Le 77, Cosmic Pop Records-affiliated beatmakers Solo700 and Peter Clinton as well as Antwerp wunderkind Corrupted, the festival does a fine job of shining a light on the often-overlooked layers of the country’s fertile beat scene. Props.

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Saturday 16th September: Feest Love at First Sight #2 at Arenberg, Antwerp

This year, the second edition of Love at First Sight will be in full swing at Arenberg concert hall; and Saturday specifically will see the DJ likes of Lazy Lou and Magic. Let yourself also swoon over a live rendition of synth-pop babe Charlotte Adigéry aka WWWater, who’ll be playing alongside fellow DEEWEE members Bolis Pupul and Soulwax’s Steve Slingeneyer. Keep it in the family.

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Saturday 16th September: Condesa & Friends at Crevette Records, Brussels

Crevette Records have guests over, all the way from Down Under: South Australia’s Condesa Electronics are joining forces with the record shop-cum-label and the in-store rotary and repair service Gino’s Rotary Rental, to showcase some of their finest gear. A tech talk will also be held by Condesa and Kong. For more of an insider look, make sure to check out Crevette’s Pim Thomas discussing his love for Brussels’ submersive nightlife. Music geeks unite.

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Sunday 17th September: FLY OVER at B401, Ghent

It’s car-free Sunday this weekend – and Ghent’s KERK, Vooruit and Treehouse are not missing this year’s opportunity, with their pretty ambitious open-air party. Reclaiming one of the city’s busiest autoroutes B401 – also known as “the fly-over”, locals will have the chance to enjoy a panoramic view of their city while listening to DJ Katapila, Asa Moto, Kong and Karawane. Go big or go home.

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Sunday 17th September: Soirée Mirage J+3 at Niko Matcha, Brussels

The final touches for the weekend: downtown’s Niko Matcha has concocted the perfect three-way Sunday interlude with the likes of Accou, Capelo and Roméo Poirier. Rest easy.

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