Now, in the summer of 2012, Van het Groenewoud (pictured) is inviting us all to join him in Brussels on 11 July for Flemish Community Day, with which he is now inextricably associated, his songs for years part of Flemish cultural heritage.
For sure, it will be a hectic day for the singer and songwriter, now 62. In the afternoon, he will play at Flagey with the Brussels Philharmonic. In the evening, he will sing his biggest hits for a major crowd on the Grote Markt, surrounded by colleagues such as Helmut Lotti, Hannelore Bedert and Flip Kowlier.
That’s not all: If singer-songwriter and Ghent city composer An Pierlé likes your melody, she’ll use it to compose a piece of music. This will be the first crowd-sourced carillon composition in the world, and is the 42nd artwork in TRACK, the contemporary art festival currently running across the city of Ghent.
The bat was impossible to ignore. Round and round it flitted, mostly hugging the concert hall’s frosted glass ceiling but occasionally darting towards the singer on stage, a young woman who bravely continued as the audience ducked their heads. A semi-finalist at the Queen Elisabeth competition four years ago, she had come well prepared to cope with the stage fright, the treacherous programme, the ruthless jury. But no one, surely, had warned her about the bats.
In the 1950s, Greek labourer Spyros Roumeliotiso, like so many other southern Europeans, travelled to Genk to work in the coal mines. In his pocket was a photo – or rather, half a photo. He and his wife had torn apart a portrait of the two of them. He had the half with her image, and, back in Greece, she kept the half with his. When they were reunited in Genk, they sewed the two pieces of the photo back together with yarn.
These are exciting times for fashion museums, that much is clear. There is not a self-respecting city in the world that isn’t trying to lure visitors with trendy fashion exhibitions. The best way to do that is to present the oeuvres of awe-inspiring designers: Focusing on the universe of these godlike creatures ensures headlines, visits from industry influentials and the respect of fashion aficionados.
So the Brussels Jazz Orchestra (BJO), together with Flemish trumpeter Bert Joris, wrote a score to Paquet’s famous jazz stories. To return the favour, he drew a story about the renowned big band. The result is the live performance Graphicology: A Visual Jazz Score. Paquet, 38, lives in a neat apartment in the Berchem district of Antwerp. The distinctive mix of black and white with only an occasional blotch of colour that typifies his graphic novels is reflected in both his interior and his clothing style.
In the heart of the capital, metres from the Brussels Stock Exchange, lies one of the oldest centres of art in Belgium: the Beursschouwburg. It’s internationally known for its daring, visionary and rebellious character, and has always stayed up to date with everything that’s new in music, dance and performance. In 2006, internationally renowned art guru Cis Bierinckx became head of the venue. But he’s about to leave.
As soon as she saw the magazine, the Antwerp-based artist knew she could work with it. But she had to wait for the right moment. “It’s being lying there for 10 or 12 years,” she tells me. “Sometimes you have an idea immediately, but I liked these so much that I couldn’t use them right away.”
When she was offered a large solo exhibition in Chicago, a city synonymous with gangsters, she felt the moment had come. “The images have an intimate connection with the underworld, and it was tantalising for me to do that. Maybe it was a bit confrontational as well.”
On 15 March 1912, Louis Paul Boon sees the light of day in Aalst, in a world limping between sluggish continuation and the changes decades of labouring through the Second Industrial Revolution have brought about. Soon this world embarks on the War to End All Wars. A host of shattered lives and crushed illusions later, Private Boon finds himself in the middle of the Second World War, yet another manifestation of man’s destructive nature.
When Emerentia Kremer, wife of a humble shoemaker, gave birth to her seventh child on 5 March 1512 in St Johann hospice in Rupelmonde, little did she know the worldwide fame that baby Gerard would go on to enjoy.
Emerentia and her husband, Hubert, were actually in Rupelmonde, now part of the town of Kruibeke in East Flanders, by chance, having travelled from their home town of Gangelt in Germany to visit Hubert’s brother, Gisbert. A few weeks after Gerard’s birth, they returned to Gangelt but felt drawn back to Flanders in 1518 to make Rupelmonde their home.