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 run different projects, mainly art fairs and other art-related projects, such as Poppositions, of which I am co-founder, and the recently-launched Brussels edition of Independent art fair. Recently, I also started Ping Pong, a creative agency and I’ll soon be launching Vorfreude, an art and fashion inspired wedding stationary website. All of this is managed from my home base in downtown Antwerp, between the old town and the harbour neighbourhood. Not the most obvious choice for a young family to live, but I love the fact that the neighbourhood feels like a little community. I moved to Antwerp because of everything people told me about it: a pocket-sized global city. I literally fell in love with the city 10 years ago; its atmosphere, its harbour, its houses and its energy. I can cycle everywhere, and there’s enough going on, I never get bored. I love how Antwerp has a unique alternative creative scene that works hard and knows how to renew itself.
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?
I often compare Antwerp to Vienna, a relatively conservative city that has an active art scene that reacts to it. In general, Antwerp is very supportive of creators, providing them with a lot of opportunities such as the A-tower and other temporary venues such as Bar Le Tour. Compared to other, larger cities where I used to live – such as Paris, London and even Berlin – creatives can still start up their own spaces downtown. Compared to any other small size city I know, Antwerp is the most global-minded, international and happening.
It’s a place to focus, to hide. Not a place to show off.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Its energy, affordable rent and art scenes. It’s a place to focus, to hide. Not a place to show off. People get down to their own stuff. I found my personal peace and focus when I moved here, and that’s why I decided to stay.
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?
Antwerp has enabled me to really settle down and focus on my own projects rather than forage around Europe. I find it inspiring, and people’s work ethic here is strong. They do their own stuff, despite the difficulties.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
A revival of the energy the art scene had a couple of years ago would be most welcome. Luckily some good people are working on it. I’d like to see more grassroots initiatives as well, such as the A-Tower and maybe even more cool child-friendly places. And please, bring the badboot back!
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?
I would say hop on a bike and take a tour in the depths of the harbour. Go along the Scheldt River towards Noord Kasteel, admire the view and carry on towards Lillo to really see the beauty of the harbour.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
If you lift your head you’ll see a little Virgin Mary statue on almost every corner. Old ones as well as modern ones. I love them. Apparently the Catholic Church spread the rumour that people could defend themselves against ghosts like the Lange Wapper by having these little statues. I also heard it was to christen the city as a Catholic one, against the bellicose protestant upper neighbour.www.livvaisberg.com Photography Miles Fischler