The slogan for this year’s Passa Porta Festival is “Imagine!” It’s a large umbrella under which very different kinds of literature can be presented. It’s clear that the power of imagination reigns in the work of many visiting authors. It’s no coincidence, of course, that the festival puts an important focus on the consequences of the Arab Spring.
Bedrijvencentrum Concentra is a business complex that houses the editorial staff of Flemish newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. It’s not a place you would expect to visit an exhibition of paintings, especially as some of them are scattered throughout the editorial offices.
“It’s not the white cube a museum normally is,” Dondeyne admits. “But I like the confrontation between my paintings and reality. I think my work is able to resist it.” To be clear: Visitors can freely enter the offices to see the works.
The collection, made up of 5,000 objects from the 13th century up to 1904, tells the history of Europe through the objects of its greatest rulers. One of the 30 rooms in the 3,000 square-metre exhibition space is sponsored by the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs, which worked closely with Flemish museums. Its room is filled with articles from the private households of the imperial Hapsburg family during the time they were based largely in Flanders.
Swerts (pictured) thought that Weg was going be the only album he would ever release. “I worked on it for almost a decade and paid for everything myself,” the musician tells me at his home in Heusden-Zolder in Limburg. Cost, he says, is “the main reason why it took me so long. Sometimes I had to save money for a year to pay for studio time or the artwork. Though, I must admit, I’m also an extreme perfectionist.”
Poet Michaël Vandebril is the driving force behind Antwerpen Boekenstad (Book City), which promotes the port city as a literary capital. “There is a dynamic literary life here, and we want to provide that extra impulse to make the atmosphere conducive to writing,” he explains.
Peeters expressed his “deepest condolences” to Raveel’s family and friends. “He was a great painter, graphic artist and sculptor, relentlessly innovative and contemporary. The almost unbearable tension of his work gave expression to the complexity of life and earned him considerable admiration. He will live on in his works of art and in the Roger Raveel Museum, which pays testimony to one of our greatest artists ever.”
The first classic album, Helmut Lotti Goes Classic, is still the top selling album of all time in Belgium. From 2000 on, he continued making albums in the same vein: Latin, symphonic pop classics, Russian songs and a tribute to Elvis Presley, his all-time hero. His final foray in that area was Time to Swing, four-and-a-half years ago.
On 14 February, 1984, the Antwerp-based literary organisation Behoud de Begeerte was born. A rough English translation: Conserve the Desire. Its aim: to promote literature through a wide variety of meticulously crafted evenings revolving around the written and spoken word. Behoud de Begeerte’s most famous event to date is Saint Amour, a night of love, lust and longing brought to you by an eclectic mix of Flemish and Dutch authors and musicians.
Last autumn they made their most rock-influenced album, A Gentleman’s Agreement. It’s their fifth and the first one to feature guitar. As a matter of fact, they expanded their line-up with not just one but two guitarists. Still, the sinister jazz, baroque fantasies and tormented melodrama that characterised their first three albums haven’t evaporated.
“With the twelfth stroke of midnight, the darkness was complete. A turbulent welter of cloud covered the city. All was darkness; all was doubt; all was confusion. the Eighteenth century was over; the Nineteenth century had begun.”