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 visual artist, based on the cheap side of Antwerp’s Zuid neighbourhood. I try to avoid daily routines as much as I can. Just like not having a set place at the table or in bed, it’s important to me to keep looking at the world from a different perspective, which starts with the most banal and quotidian. I feel connected to Antwerp’s arts and music scene, for one because they’re the people I meet when I step out of my front door, and secondly because they’re the ones that form the soundboard for what happens in my studio – or anywhere else.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
It’s a cliché, but Antwerp is a small city, or a large village. The sheer number of artists and initiatives based here is astounding nonetheless, and has historical relevance, too. It’s a reason for people to head over here, it’s in the city’s genes (and makes it sometimes difficult to understand the kind of political convictions that get a lot of attention here).
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
As a young artist, it’s interesting and wise to head to places that offer opportunities and discoveries on different levels – visual arts, music, theatre, architecture, nightlife, academies. In the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, these would be either Ghent, Brussels or Antwerp. But what’s best for an artist is mainly linked to coincidence forming the social lubricant for entering a certain city.
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?
I came here as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts 20 years ago. I stayed around, and because of this Antwerp was often a partner in the discovery of what’s important to me. At first as a spectator, and then as a participating and active artist.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
I wouldn’t say the city needs anything more. Things go the way they go. I would love to see less obvious city marketing, especially when it comes to the creative sector. The surrounding advertising often comes off as unbelievable and forced. Maybe the city should try not to put all the “creatives” in one basket.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place wthat truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
Drink yourself to space at Witzli Poetzli, the smallest, most pleasant artsy bar in town.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
Every Antwerp-based artist that’s over 60 years old has wonderful stories to tell. Look for them, and talk with them while sharing a drink.www.lievensegers.be Photography Miles Fischler