Held each May in the Belgian capital of Brussels, the Kunsten Festival des Arts (Kunstenfestivaldesarts) is known for consistently presenting one of the Europe’s leading programs of progressive and experimental works. The 2013 program again features a large number of works one a broad range of subjects, from politics and history to the vital social issues in Europe today.
Seventeen of the 32 works on the program are new works produced by the festival or as collaborative productions. Works by Belgian artists include Sarah Vanhee’s Lecture for Every One
, in which the artist enters community gatherings unannounced with her lecture about discourse in a fragmented society; Kris Verdonck’s company A Two Dogs Company presenting a music theater production of H, an incident
with performance and installation; and Claude Schmitz’s Melanie Daniels
, a satire questioning artistic creation in crisis taking Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds
as a point of departure. Among the world premieres are Suite N°1
, a 15-language performance by the French artist collective L’Encyclopédie de la Parole exploring the expressive power of words; and SPEAK!
by Serbian artist Sanja Mitrović that questions our acceptance of political speeches that change society.
Other highlights include the 49-hour video installation Magic Bullet
by Swedish visual artist Markus Ohrn, who is also known for his stage performances and art; and Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues’ Três dedos abaixo do joelho
a stage work that poses questions about freedom of speech and censorship. Also, Schubladen
by German female group She She Pop and Sarah Vanagt’s film Élevage de poussière /Dust Breeding
are two works question the existence of individual thought in a society dominated by words and censorship, taking as subject matter the division of Germany and the breakup of Yugoslavia respectively.
The program also features numerous works by renowned artists such as the German master of music theatre, Heiner Goebbels’ When the mountain changed its clothing
and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Boris Charmatz presenting Partita 2
. From Japan, Toshiki Okada
and his chelfitsch company bring a performance of their new work Ground and Floor
to the program.
Kunstenfestivaldesarts is a contemporary arts festival launched in 1994. In contrast to Francc’s Avignon Festival with its orientation toward mainstream European theater, Kunstenfestivaldesarts aims to present unique programming oriented more toward experimental work and global diversity. In addition to featuring artists from Belgium and across Europe, the festival reaches out to find young artists from emerging nations with less developed support networks and produce many works. The festival also takes a long-term perspective in the task of nurturing young artists that included multiple year joint production projects and supporting the production of new works by accomplished artists based in Belgium and other parts of Europe for world premieres. The festival also serves in the role of project leader for the NXSTP festival network consisting of members such as Lisbon’s Alcantara Festival and the autumn Steiermark Festival of Graz among others. The artistic director from the festival’s founding until 2006 was Frie Leysen
, when the post was handed over to her former right hand and programming director Christophe Slagmuylder