Bruges is poetry, quite simply. It is enchantment, silence, history. It is certainly water.
In the very heart of this little city, a World Heritage Site hovering between past and present, the second edition of its Triennial, spanning art, architecture and design, hugely fascinating and deeply mesmerising and curated by Michel Dewilde and Till-Holger Borchert is up and running.
The common thread of the event, which continues until 16th September, is a reflection on the future and on the city. To what extent can a city (a historic one such as Bruges, or otherwise) remain flexible, fluid and resilient in an age where certainties no longer seem to exist? The world is changing rapidly. Established ways of thinking and forms of human association are under pressure. What does the future hold? Zygmunt Bauman’s reference to a liquid society is clear and to the point, but his approach is exactly the opposite. Where the great contemporary philosopher saw negativity, here they are trying to build (or at least formulate) positivity. It is an open, shared city. An ideal testing-ground, hopefully a driver of cultural, social and ecological change. Community-focused for shared experiences, ideas and dreams. The keywords thus become transition, influx, hospitality and exchange - and the approach, albeit idealistic and sometimes Utopian, optimistic at last.
The Triennial is split into three main sections: Public Spaces, hospitable spaces in which diversity fuels unexpected encounters; (Co-)creative Cooperation Projects, collaborations between artists, architects and professionals from other disciplines on projects for radically transforming the urban identity and The City Imagined, artworks representing urbanity by 15 artists from all over the world - Jarosław Kozakiewicz, Wesley Meuris, Renato Nicolodi, Nlé – Kunlé Adeyemi, Obba, Roxy Paine, John Powers, Raumlabor, Rotor (collaborative project with Beaufort2018), Ruimteveldwerk, Tomás Saraceno, Selgascano (Jose Selgas & Lucia Cano), Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Studiokca and Peter Van Driessche-Atelier4.
The starting point for a visit to the Triennial is the FRAC Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain of the Centre-Val de Loire exhibition in the church and gardens of the Grootseminarie, which revisits the dawn of a new approach to architecture during the 1990s, triggered by the development of innovative design and digital production methods. The trail then wends its way through incredible sculptures and installations that are out of this world. It is impossible to decide which is the best; perhaps the most stunning is a gigantic whale, made out of 5 tonnes of recycled plastic retrieved from almost all the seas and oceans around the world, which rises up from the Bruges canal waters, right in front of the statue of Jan van Eyck (StudioKCA).
Just a taste of the visions, dreams, synergies and meditations kindled “on the periphery” to start conceiving and designing a new world.
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