Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
I’m a freelance journalist. I write about visual arts and literature for Humo and De Morgen, but the biggest part of my time is spent at Oogst, a magazine about visual arts, literature and film, where I’m active as editor-in-chief. I live in the city’s Zuid neighbourhood, but on the more unknown side of the Leien, in a big beautiful building in the same street as the even more gorgeous fire station. The area oscillates nicely between calm and vibrant. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the M HKA, FOMU and loads of other art galleries are just a stone’s throw away. The perfect place for someone writing about art. There’s very little routine in my life, something that proves to be quite exciting, yet, at times, difficult. As a freelancer you have to create your own daily patterns. What I often do is head to Normo – where I must know the majority of the clientele by now. I met Oogst’s graphic designer Ward Heirwegh there, for example. And their baristas are lovely. I believe I can call them good friends now.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe?
I love Antwerp. But I think the feeling a city gives you differs greatly depending on the person. For me, a lot of it has to do with the people. And I keep running into interesting, admiring and kind souls over here. What’s more, I’m under the impression that the city offers many opportunities, that you can actually do stuff here. But again, that probably has to do just as much with the people as with the city itself.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives and gives the city its edge?
Like I mentioned: I feel that a lot is possible here. If you want to do something, you just do it. People experiment here. And failing is all right, as well. This freedom and safety are intrinsic characteristics of the city, for me.
How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
Quite hard to say. When I was 14, coming from Leuven and visiting M HKA, I already knew I wanted to live here eventually. It was unavoidable. In one way or another, Antwerp is my emotional home. And I believe this mainly has to do with the arts and with everything that’s to be seen, heard, read and experienced here. I have the feeling that I became more who I was in Antwerp. How that works exactly is a mystery to me equally.
I think the feeling a city gives you differs greatly depending on the person. For me, a lot of it has to do with the people.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
Maybe a rougher side, because the city is becoming more and more polished.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
A walk along the Scheldt river, preferably by the rougher places at the docks. The presence of water in Antwerp has an inseparable bond to the feeling of freedom.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
The unparalleled Dennis Tyfus!oogstmagazine.com Photography Thomas Ost