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May. 27, 2016
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Brussels’ Kunsten Festival des Arts 2016 held (May 6 – 28, 2016)
The Kunsten Festival des Arts (Kunstenfestivaldesarts) festival consistently presents one of Europe’s leading programs of progressive and experimental works. After the March 22nd terror attacks in Brussels, there was a fear that this year’s festival would not be held, but eventually it was held on schedule. In his message on the festival’s official website (appearing in Flemish, French and English), artistic director Christophe Slagmuylder said that there has never been a time that when we have more to gain from dialog with others and that we can’t allow actions that are based in exclusion or polarization.
The feature artist of this year’s festival was the director Philippe Quesne, who serves as artistic director of the Theater Nanterre-Amandiers in France. A two-stage project titled “Welcome to Caveland” that included the world premiere of Quesne’s new work La nuit des taupes (Night of the moles), a co-production with Kunstenfestivaldesarts, and then turned into a 10-day traveling installation like a circus or a fairground for a variety of events that took place at a cave in Les Brigittines, becoming the festival center with concerts, a salon, film showings, a Kids Club and more.
Another focus program features the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a filmmaker and visual artist from Thailand. It included the movie Tropical Malady, short and feature films, photographs, video installations and more in a program titled Memorandum. This program also presented performances of Weerasethakul’s very first theater production, Fever Room, which premiered at the Asian Arts Theatre in Gwangju, South Korea.
Also, in light of the recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, and the tendency for “certain others” to be excluded from society, a number of North African and Middle East artists were invited to this year’s festival. They included Marrakech-based choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen, who worked with a group of Aitas, traditional, female cabaret artists from Morocco, to present the work Ottof; another Marrakech-based choreographer, Taoufiq Izeddiou, who presented the dance piece En Alerte based on indigenous Sufi culture; the Casablanca-based visual artist Younes Baba-Ali presented two urban intervention installation projects titled Paraboles / Vu’ Cuprà; and a regular of international theater festivals, Iranian theatre-maker Amir Reza Koohestani, directed his work Hearing.
From Japan there were three productions, Toshiki Okada presented Times Journey through a Room, Yudai Kamisato +51 Aviación, San Borja, and Takao Kawaguchi presented About Kazuo Ohno.

Festival Outline
Kunstenfestivaldesarts is a performing arts-focused contemporary arts festival held each May in Brussels, Belgium since 1994. Kunstenfestivaldesarts presents unique programming oriented toward experimental work and global diversity and is known as an indicator of the latest creations. 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 of their 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. In this sense it becomes a generating force for new trends in performing arts. More than 50% of the program consists of works either produced by the festival or in collaboration, and approximately half are world premieres.
The artistic director was Frie Leysen from the festival’s founding until 2006, when she retired. The post was then handed over to her former right hand and programming director Christophe Slagmuylder. In recent years, through the cooperation of the Japan Foundations “PAJ” grant program and The Saison Foundation, works of Japanese theater-makers and artists including Toshiki Okada (Chelfitsch), Zan Yamashita, Hiroaki Umeda, Shiro Maeda (Gotanda-dan) and others have been invited to participate in the festival.
+Kunsten Festival des Arts