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8 things to do in Brussels, Aalst, Antwerp, and online, from performance festivals and cinema’s birthday to exhibitions. See you there!

Opening: Living Things at Melissa Ansel

Thursday, 4 February, 14-21h00 Brussels

Margaux Nieto

The lives of animals, plants, and objects take over in this captivating exhibition at Melissa Ansel, a fairly new gallery in Brussels’ Forest neighbourhood. Humans remain in the background, radiating empathy and sensitivity for the beings that surround them – a poetic and much-needed plea for compassion in a world that far too often treats animals and nature as a whole like a commodity. With works by Margaux Nieto, Béatrice Barrier, Céleste Joly, and Agathe Duperou. On opening day there’ll be music by Arnaud Derochefort and Third Sky

Performance festival: Bâtard online

From 3 to 6 February Brussels

Bâtard is taking on a new form this year, with audiences getting the opportunity to experience the carefully curated program from the comfort of their own homes. For more than 10 years now, the performance festival has been giving a playground to emerging artists, and although togetherness and physicality are at the core of its identity, it is taking the plunge into the world of online streaming. The ticket model has been adapted as well: pay-what-you-can or pay-what-you-want, anything between 2 and 250€. A ticket not only gives you access to the entire online platform, but also, if you’re based in Belgium, a surprise package you’ll receive via post. The varied program includes performances by Jihan Imago, Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen & Antonia Steffens, Paula Almiron and many others, as well as workshops and a podcast. 

Window exhibition: Miles Fischler at Tique Vitrine

Runs until 21 February Antwerp

Window exhibitions are clearly one of the best ways for pandemic-safe art viewing. That’s why Antwerp art space Tique recently launched Tique Vitrine, making art accessible around the clock while being completely Covid-19-proof. Currently on view are photographic works by Belgian artist Miles Fischler, who lets intuition guide her practice, looking for what she calls signs, beauty, strangeness, or connecting the dots.

Exhibition: New Songs for Old Cities at Netwerk Aalst

Runs until 28 February Aalst

“New Songs for Old Cities” is a group show by the artists of residence at Ghent’s highly reputed Higher Institute for Fine Arts (HISK). Aziz Hazara, Che-Yu Hsu, Dani Ghercă, Diego Lama, Dries Boutsen, Elisa Pinto, Gaëlle Leenhardt, Hadassa Ngamba, Helen Anna Flanagan, Katya Ev, Luca Vanello, Nikolay Karabinovych, Nokukhanya Langa, Olivia Hernaïz, Oussama Tabti and Paulius Šliaupa bring together ideas of residence, public address and art in an urban context. How can artworks and artistic voices inhabit a cityscape? With what memories, dreams and ambitions are the buildings and streets that surround us loaded? And what role do songs play in inhabiting places and creating narratives? These are only some of the questions raised in this fascinating exhibition. By the way, it’s the kick-off to an ongoing collab between HISK and Aalst: Every two years a HISK resident will be commissioned to develop a project  in the city.

Birthday bash: 125 years of cinema at Cinematek online

Thursday, 4 February, 15h00 Brussels

Entrée du train en gare de La Ciotat, FR, 1895

Amidst what is probably cinema’s biggest crisis to date, it’s celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. On the occasion, Brussels’ Cinematek invites you to a Facebook live session letting viewers travel back in time to 1895, when the Lumière brothers held one of the first public film screenings in history. Footage from pioneering movies of the period will be screened accompanied by live piano music.

Art books: Dummies Dummies at RAAT

Saturday, 6 February, 14-18h00 Antwerp

A “dummy”, that’s the first mockup of a book, a test if you will, before the entire print-run is produced. RAAT‘s exhibition “Dummies Dummies” is dedicated to this very unique work of paper, highlighting the creation process of artists’ books, from sketches to final publication. With glimpses in the book-making adventures of Julie Van Kerkckhoven, Frederic Pels, Eva Donckers, and many others.

Opening: John Phillip Abbott and Stephan Goldrajch at Baronian Xippas

Thursday, 4 February, 18-21h00 Brussels

At Brussels’ Baronian Xippas, two exhibitions open this Thursday. In “Wishing Like a Mountain”, American artist John Phillip Abbott examines the complex relationship between words and images in his paintings that are full of experimentation and reinvent conventional painting methods. Israel-born, Brussels-based artist Stephan Goldrajch presents a new series of works, combining different techniques such as crochet, weaving, embroidery and sewing. His artistic approach is based on the imperative to create links and generating relationships, including laymen into his creative process. 

Last days: Victoria Colmegna at La Maison de Rendez-Vous

Runs until 6 February Brussels

“Boarding school” at La Maison de Rendez-Vous presents the work of Argentinian artist Victoria Colmegna, whose work mainly focuses on youth culture and adolescence, in particular how identity is shaped through social affiliation and defiance. She’s also interested in class, and how it controls the body. Her thought-provoking works include collaged paintings in bulletin board lockboxes as well as videos.

Cover photo by Miles Fischler

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