What’s on: Stare loneliness in the face at Artefact Festival


The art of loneliness is on display in Leuven, while crushing capitalism is the focus of an exhibition in Ostend and Brussels brightens up the winter

Artefact Festival

Leuven’s annual Artefact festival uses the arts to address specific themes, and this year it’s loneliness. The subject has cropped up a lot in the media over the last few years because the constant connections that social media provides does not appear to have solved the problem – and in fact sometimes exacerbates it.

The festival offers many unique ways of exploring the topic. Take the exhibition Alone Together, for instance, which includes the work of German-Indian artist Tino Sehgal. He creates installations that depend on the visitor to work, sometimes offering an intimate creation based on an individual’s actions and movements, sometimes on the movements of everyone at the exhibition. It removes the voyeur aspect of art, making it a collaboration. Then there are concerts, like Berlin-based King Midas Sound (pictured) preforming their latest album Solitude. Artefact also includes films and talks, as well as a special programme for kids. Talks and the exhibition are free, as are the guided tours, in English, Dutch and French. 13 February to 1 March, Stuk, Naamsestraat 96, Leuven

History Without a Past

Situationist International, around from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, was the collective name of artists, intellectuals and revolutionaries from around the globe who wanted to destroy the social constructs built up around capitalism. The 9-5 working man was their enemy, as they sought to convince the populace that play was essential for freedom. Stop scheduling, start living – like what kids call play. These ideas contributed to the uprisings of May 1968. Brussels artist Vincent Meessen and Oxford artist Samson Kambalu joined together for the exhibition History Without a Past, an effort to break down systems, many of which are used to maintain a hierarchical order. Until 17 May, Mu.Zee, Romestraat 11, Ostend

Citizen Lights & Bright Brussels

Good news: Spring is just a few short weeks away. Until then, immerse yourself in the warm glow of lights at not one but two light festivals this month. First up is Citizen Lights in which the good people of Schaerbeek erects lovely installations, stage cool performances and put on big parades, all using light in astoundingly creative ways. Next up is Bright Brussels, where bigger is better, as a route of light installations by some of the best international artists in the business light up the nights. Both events are free. Citizen Lights: 7-8 February 18.00-22.00, across Schaarbeek; Bright Brussels, 13-16 February 19.00-23.00, across Brussels-City

Get tickets now: Pikovaya Dama

Despite your best intentions to go to the opera in Brussels, you find it is always sold out. That’s because productions at De Munt are routinely excellent, so don’t wait to get tickets to the spring productions of Pikovaya Dama (The Queen of Spades). The Tchaikovsky brothers’ tragic masterpiece explores the dangers of greed, as a Russian army officer risks everything to learn the secret of winning at cards. Hungarian director David Marton (pictured) contrasts the fears and preoccupation of the characters with the modern world in this new production for De Munt. It is conducted by Nathalie Stutzmann. Tickets go on sale at noon on 11 February. 21 April to 9 May, Muntplein 5, Brussels

Photos, from top: Courtesy Artefact; “Les Amours en Cage” by Porté par le vent; Samson Kambalu, Mboya Series, 2016 (cropped)/courtesy the artist and Kate MacGarry, London; ©Hofmann/De Munt