The poetry in the teepees comes from Herman De Coninck, Pablo Neruda, Judith Herzberg and other poets who were inspired by unforeseen meetings. But it’s not only words that leave traces here. The confusing images of Sofie Muller in the town’s monastery are inspired by Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 and focus on the formative years of human life. A schoolboy dragging his head on the wall leaves a trace of charcoal. You cannot just sweep away your past. A schoolgirl sitting at a desk is upset by fear of failure and has lost her head (pictured). The poems of Bart Moeyaert are an understanding companion.
At the same location, the video A Young Girl Is Growing Up by the Turkish artist Ferhat Özgür is quite disturbing. A mother removes the long curls of her daughter with a flat-iron. It seems an innocent domestic scene at first, but soon it raises questions about intergenerational dominance in Muslim culture.
Likewise, watching the photos of Taryn Simon, on display in the town hall, is like looking through a keyhole. The series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar shows images of places you’re not allowed to enter. Places where the Ku Klux Klan meet, for instance, or – even more unsettling – the empty cage of a detention centre in Ohio, in which prisoners who are sentenced to death can stroll around for an hour a day.
Most poems on display in Watou are by the Flemish poet Leonard Nolens. This year he received the three-yearly Prize for Dutch Literature for his entire body of work. The poems on the wall in the Douviehoeve represent a brief summary of his oeuvre. The ancient farmhouse that’s walking distance from the centre of Watou is also a perfect fit for getting acquainted with the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project by the Flemish conceptual artist Koen Vanmechelen.
We were especially impressed by the big Jesus and (three-legged) Buddha sculpture, both made of ash, by the Chinese artist Zhang Huan. His installation East Wind, West Wind confronts the sculptures, creating a perfect atmosphere for contemplation.
The contrast with O Amor Natural is enormous. In this movie – call it an ode to physical love – Heddy Honigmann interviewed a well-picked selection of elderly Brazilian people about the erotic poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade. Their unashamed stories, about Drummond, his work and their own sex life, are compelling and uplifting.
You could easily say that they are as personal as the photos of Jimmy Kets. He exhibits snapshots of his girlfriend Julie in the little parish hall, which he has transformed into a cosy hotel. He and his muse met in a hotel lobby and the love this accidental encounter produced really splashes from the walls of Hotel Kets.