Culture in the EU (2): BelgiumPosted: June 7, 2016
As a solid supporter of the Remain campaign, in the 18 days from June 5th until the European Union Referendum on June 23rd, I am posting a selection of links and other information about music, literature, film, visual art, dance, architecture, etc., from each of the EU nations.
I make no claims to be comprehensive in any case, and my choices undoubtedly will reflect my own aesthetic interests – but I believe that may be more interesting than a rather anonymous selection of simply the most prominent artists or art. All work comes from the post-1945 era, the period during which the EU has come to fruition, but may (and often will) include work which dates from before the nations in question joined the EU. As I am writing in English, where translations exist I will use these. Time does not allow for detailed commentaries, I just throw these selections out there in the hope others will be interested in the extraordinary range of culture which has emerged from citizens of the EU.
I will begin with one of the most important of all artists of the twentieth century, poet, post-Duchamp artist and filmmaker Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976). Here is a site with lots of information on his work and illustrations.
Marcel Broodthaers, Citron-Citroen, réclame pour la Mer du Nord (Advertisement for the North Sea) (1974).
And here one can listen to his ‘Interview with a Cat’.
Furthermore, here is Broodthaers’ 1968 film Le Corbeau et le Renard.
Here is a discussion of his work at the time of a 2016 retrospective at MOMA.
And here is a reading of Broodthaers’ poetry:
This site gives information on the experimental Belgian poet Hugo Claus (1929-2008), including some important links. Furthermore, at this site one can read and listen to a variety of Claus’s work.
Amongst other important Belgian writers are Françoise Mallet-Joris (b. 1930), about whom one can watch a feature here (only an excerpt available to those who have not subscribed). A biography and list of works (in French) is here. And some information on translations of highly-regarded writer Monika van Paemel (b. 1945) can be found here. Here are details of a translation of her story ‘The Accursed Fathers’. Some information on writer Kristien Hemmerechts (b. 1955) can be found here.
A useful page on Christian Dotremont (1922-1979), who brought together poetry and painting, is here.
This site gives much detail on the work of Gent artist Marthe Donas (1887-1967).
Marthe Donas, Intuition No. 19 (1958).
Arno Quinze, Cityscape Wooden Sculpture.
The senior figures of post-war Belgian music were Henri Pousseur (1929-2009) and Karol Goeyvaerts (1923-1993), both of seminal importance in the history of serial music.
Another figure who is a prominent and generous presence in Belgian musical life is André Laporte (b. 1931):
A very different type of music can be found in the minimalist work of Wim Mertens (b. 1953), known in particular for his music for the film The Belly of an Architect by Peter Greenaway, and for an extremely important book on American minimal music.
Amongst numerous younger figures, one should listen to the music of Serge Verstockt (b. 1957):
And also the remarkably fluent and effortless composer Luc Brewaeys (1959-2015), who was tragically lost to cancer last year.
An important institution for the promotion of new music in Belgium is the Logos Foundation, which is currently threatened with closure.
Amongst the numerous early music groups in Belgian, one of the most important is Collegium vocale, under the general direction of Philippe Herreweghe. Here they are singing Jean Langlais:
Here is a range of significant Belgian popular music, ranging from noise music to trip-hop.
Here is the 1966 animation Chromophobia by Raoul Servais (b. 1928):
A hugely important feminist work is Chantal Akerman’s 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975):
Whilst the disturbing 1992 film Man bites Dog, directed by Rémy Belvaux, André Nobzel and Benoît Poelvoorde (the latter in the main role), received some international attention upon release:
One of the most significant post-war theatre directors in Belgium is Michel Dezoteux (b. 1949). Here is is Le Revizor (2008), based on the work of Nikolai Gogol:
And here is an interview with another hugely important figure in contemporary Belgian theatre, Frédéric Baal (b. 1940):
The choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (b. 1960), created the dance company Rosas, who were resident at La Monnaie from 1992 to 2007. Here is a video of their work: