BRUSSELS BELGIUM EUROPE
JUN 29-JUL 12 2012 ISSUE 21 â‚Ź4.95
Spruce up for summer with our beauty guide
We join the Belgian foreign minister in China
Brussels police chief Jacques Deveaux
Manifesta 9 and other art shows in Flanders
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DEPOT BRUXELLES X
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Celebrating 50 years
I predict a riot A hardcore minority of mainly east European football fans may have behaved badly at Euro 2012, but when the tournament was co-hosted by Belgium 12 years ago, the culprits waved a different flag
In 2000, Belgium co-hosted the European Football Championships with the Netherlands, and it wasn’t all plain sailing. Under the headline ‘Riots erupt at Euro 2000’, The Bulletin’s Alan Hope reported how football hooligans ran amok in Brussels and Charleroi on June 16 before the England-Germany match. Police in the capital used tear gas, water cannon and batons to subdue rioters in the city centre. About 800 England fans were arrested and deported. Unlike the German authorities, the British had failed to prevent known offenders from travelling to the games.
Belgium knows what hosts, Poland and Ukraine are up against when fired-up fans take their beer-soaked fury, frustration and misdirected elation out on one another. This time, the culprits have been a multinational bunch: Russians attacking and injuring stewards in Warsaw were fined €120,000; Croatian fans chanting racist abuse and lighting flares landed the country’s football association with a €80,000 fine. And English fans, never to be left out of the action, were fined €5,000 for an attempted pitch invasion. By Cleveland Moffett
5 THE BULLETIN
Contents p52 Art in Flanders
p14 Didier Reynders
p30 Tram Calavera p32 Experience
Politics & Business
Lifestyle & Community
Culture & Events
9 News In Brief
27 Lifestyle In Brief
14 Didier Reynders in China Reportage from the foreign minister’s recent trip to the Far East
32 Love at First Bite Aline de Gottal from cookware shop Pimpinelle shares her foodie favourites
52 Visual Arts Flanders We take a look at Manifesta 9 in Genk and the rest of the programme for Flanders’ summer of art
18 Jacques Deveaux The police chief – and author – shares his thoughts on crime and punishment 21 Your Money Buying a house in Belgium 24 The Brand We profile Manutti, one of Belgium’s bestknown outdoor furniture brands 25 Know-how Everything you need to know about travel insurance
34 Brussels beauty guide From the best tanning shops to the best facials, we help you get ready for the summer 38 Up my Street Out and about in Evere 41 Behind the Scenes Musiekpublique 42 Focus Where to book a last-minute holiday 44 Travel All sorts of watersports in Zeeland
56 Mapping Cyprus A new exhibition on the divided island of Cyprus opens at Bozar 60 14 Days The Bulletin’s cultural highlights for the fortnight ahead – in Brussels and beyond 68 Film Cinema reviews and recommendations 71 Property 76 Classifieds 80 Jobs 82 Capital Life Harpist Maria Palatine opens her diary for The Bulletin
46 Digital 47 Community
Editeur Responsable /Verantwoordelijke uitgever: John Stuyck, A. Gossetlaan 30, 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden. Opinions expressed in The Bulletin are those of the authors alone. For reasons of space, street names in Brussels are given only in their French version.
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9â€‰ THE BULLETIN
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Politics & Business
BATTLE OF WATERLOO REPLAYED Exactly 195 years after Napoleon was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, an army of 3,000 history enthusiasts from 18 countries squared up on the original site of the battlefield to replay the encounter. After two hours of re-enacting the slaughter of 9,500 soldiers through hand-to-hand combat and fusillades, Wellingtonâ€™s men emerged victorious through the plumes of smoke. Meanwhile, the skeleton of a soldier, probably British and with the initials CB, has surfaced two centuries after he was shot in the chest during the Battle of Waterloo. The remains were found when digging began for a new car park in Waterloo.
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BELGIUM In Brief JUSTICE
Glenn Audenaert, head of Brussels’ federal judicial police
‘Exorcists’ given nine-year sentences
Judicial police chief suspended over forgery claims
The head of the federal judicial police of Brussels, Glenn Audenaert, has been suspended for four months over allegations he forged key documents. He is also accused of a breach of confidence for using the police database to look up confidential information for a businessman friend. The suspension – proposed by interior minister Joëlle Milquet and confirmed by justice minister Annemie Turtelboom – comes after Audenaert was questioned for 11 hours and his office was searched by Dendermonde authorities. POLITICS
Temmerman to head WHO unit
Marleen Temmerman, the senator with the Flemish socialist SP.A, is set to leave Parliament in October to take over the World Health Organisation’s department of reproductive health and research in Geneva. She will also leave her directorship of the Women’s Clinic at the Ghent University Hospital, but she will maintain an association as a professor at Ghent University.
Two self-proclaimed exorcists have been handed nine-year sentences by the Brussels Court of Assizes for the killing of Latifa Hachmi, 23. Four other defendants received suspended sentences. Latifa died at her home in Schaerbeek in August 2004 after being subjected to repeated violent attempts to exorcise the devil using Islamic rituals.
Economy to grow 0.6% this year The Belgian economy is expected to grow 0.6 percent this year, according to the governor of Belgium’s National Bank, Luc Coene, far better than other Eurozone nations. He says Belgium will also meet its budgetary targets this year. Meanwhile, Belgium attracted 176 foreign investment projects in 2011, an increase of 6 percent compared to 2010, according to IBM Plant Location International.
GDF Suez to cut electricity production in Belgium French utility company GDF Suez plans to cut its fossil-fuel-powered electricity production in Belgium by nearly 900 megawatts, closing three unprofitable units by September 2013, according to newspaper reports. Two gas units and one unit combining coal and biomass to produce electricity are reportedly to close as stricter environmental rules have led Belgium to raise taxes on fossil-fuel power stations.
De Gucht tax probe
Delay for Brussels wind farm listing
EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht has been accused of tax fraud by the Belgian authorities, who say he failed to declare the profit he made on the sale of shares of the Vista group on which tax was due. The authorities want De Gucht and his wife to pay tax on profits they made from selling shares, said to total €1.2 million in an operation dating from 2005. De Gucht insists he has done nothing wrong. Under Belgian law, his profits should be taxed if the shares were received in return for his work as a director.
A planned deal involving a wind farm operator that would have resulted in Belgium’s first major stock market flotation in three years has been delayed, with the companies involved blaming the latest bout of uncertainty in financial markets. Belgium-based wind farm operator Electrawinds and a Frankfurtlisted acquisition company postponed their planned tie-up which would have resulted in the latter changing its name to Electrawinds then seeking a listing in Brussels.
Increase in the cost of drinking water in Belgium over the past six years
Bakery group to spend €80 million on upgrades The Puratos Group will spend €80 million globally boosting its production capacity this year. It comes after a strong set of final results for 2011, with net sales up 11 percent to €1.21 billion. The Brussels-based firm, which offers products and application expertise for the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors, said it had achieved growth “in line with its long-term strategy”.
Brussels hotels book 5.9 million stays in 2011 Overnight stays in Brussels rose by 6.7 percent last year, with 3.2 million people staying in hotels for a total of 5.9 million overnight stays. Business travellers accounted for 53 percent of bookings. Percentage of the non-European women living in Belgium who are unemployed
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Dexia ‘time bomb’ could swell public debt
Belmondo honoured in Brussels French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (pictured above) has been awarded the medal of the Order of Leopold, one of Belgium’s most prestigious royal honours, at a ceremony in Brussels’ Bozar theatre. The 79-yearold – who has starred in 95 films during his 50-year career – was accompanied by friend and fellow actor Jean Dujardin, currently filming in the capital, and his Belgian girlfriend, Barbara Gandolfi.
Belgium tops listing for traffic jams Drivers in Belgium wasted an average of 55 hours stuck in traffic last year, the worst in Europe, according to a survey. The study, by traffic information company Inrix, places Brussels and Antwerp at numbers two and three in the list of most congested cities, only beaten by Milan.
Bailed-out Dexia is a threat to the budgets of Belgium and France, likely needing yet another injection of taxpayers’ money that would further sink public finances, according to one of the bank’s former lawyers. Bernhard Ardaen, who spent 20 years at Dexia, has authored a book on the collapse called Time Bomb, saying its needs could eventually swell Belgium’s public debt by €150 billion to 1.5 times its annual output. The Franco-Belgian group was rescued for a second time in three years last October. Already stripped of most of its businesses, it now faces a future as a holding of bonds and loans, with state guarantees to prevent a Lehmanlike collapse and domino effect.
“There is no miracle solution. We can’t just start building more roads; there are too many houses here for that” Flemish minister of mobility and public works Hilde Crevits, responding on Radio 1 to the study above that put Belgium at the top of the world’s most traffic-ridden countries
Facebook accounts in Belgium, almost half the population
Take to the streets Brussels is an example of fine urban planning gone awry, says Kristof Dams n 1903, the New York Times described Brussels as “one of the most artistic capitals in Europe”. The paper was more specifically referring to what was then known as municipal art (ie urban planning and design). That’s right: there was a time when Brussels’ urban planning policies were seen as examples that others could learn from. That same year, former mayor Charles Buls, famed author of the urban planning classic L’Esthétique des Villes, embarked on a lecture tour across the US, explaining how it should be done. What has happened since then? One hundred years of dramatically ill-informed decisions, it seems. The north-south rail link sliced the city in two. Popular neighbourhoods near Midi and North stations were flattened to make way for office districts. The lovely residential neighbourhood around the old Lambermont monastery was taken apart piece by piece and progressively replaced by a European quarter without style or vision. And finally: access roads Yes, there was were laid all around to take you from the main a time when road straight to the Grand’Place. Brussels’ Among the first to decide that enough was urban enough was The Bulletin. Scandalised by the fact that the Grand’Place served as a car park, planning was this magazine called for a series of sit-ins in the seen as an early 1970s – which effectively helped rid the example to historic square of cars. Philosopher Philippe learn from Van Parijs has always relished this story of expat activism and has now decided to emulate it. Hence his Boulevard Anspach picnics, the first of which was a resounding success, with 2,000 people present and Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans vowing to make the road car-free every Sunday afternoon during the summer. But this is perhaps no more than a ‘city beach’-style symbolic measure meant to defuse the situation, which has been a major point on the agenda of liberal opposition party MR for a long time. Leading party member (and Brussels MP) Marion Lemesre, in a 2011 discussion in Brussels Parliament, cried out: “Yves Montand would have never sung J’aime me promener sur les grands boulevards here. Just look at the state they’re in, a real disgrace! The 1970s flower boxes serve as trash cans, tiles are coming loose, the plywood metro entrances are pitifully ugly... and there’s litter everywhere!” Bearing in mind the increased competition of several major shopping malls in the works in the periphery and pressure from shop owners, MR will not opt for a low-traffic Brussels any time soon. PS, meanwhile, say they support the picnics, as they are in line with their own mobility policy. It seems that if you want to rid Kristof Dams is the grands boulevards of traffic, the ballot box a Ghent-based (this autumn) is not the only way. But there is journalist and a proven stratagem: keep on picnicking! historian
The predicted life expectancy of a Belgian in 2050, compared to 80 years in 2010
Percentage of Belgians who receive invalidity benefit due to illness or disability
22 POLITICS & BUSINESS
The Brand – Manutti
The great outdoors What Belgium lacks in tropical weather, it makes up for in world-class outdoor furniture companies. We take a look at one of the biggest by emma firmin
Deerlijk-based Manutti brings the comfort of indoor living outside
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here would entrepreneurs be without garages? The businesses born in the space where the car resides reads like a who’s who of great ideas: Apple, Google, Harley Davidson, Dyson. And although Manutti – the Belgian outdoor furniture company with the Italian-sounding name – has slightly more modest plans for world domination, its origins also lie in the informal engine room. In the 10 years since it started, Manutti has made the transition from local to global, with its products available in more than 50 countries. In 2008 it made the move from oily to sleek, setting up a new headquarters and showroom in Deerlijk, near Kortrijk in West Flanders. Manutti was founded by Stephane De Winter in 2002. The name is not only a “nod and a wink to Italian design” but also to his son, Manu. The company’s decade of activity reflects the growth of a sector that for many people used to mean a few mismatched deckchairs on a patio. The idea of outdoor living – extending the interior living space into the great outdoors – has provided a new ‘room’ for designers, producers and consumers to fill. For De Winter, this evolution has been driven by people’s desire “to experience the same comfort outside as inside. They want to sit comfortably in their chair or sofa, have a table that fits their needs, accompanied by outdoor lighting, side tables and accessories. They want the whole picture.” If you’re looking out at another grey, wet and windy day, it might come as a surprise that a Belgian company is one of the leading producers of high-end outdoor furniture, along with Tribù and Royal Botania, and international competitors such as Kettal, Barlow Tyrie and Gloster. But adaptability has been key to Manutti’s success in an industry where regional markets are cooled not just by the economic climate but by equally variable natural elements. As De Winter explains, along with the aesthetics
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of design, “the important thing that comes with outdoor furniture is that it must withstand all weather and has to be maintenancefriendly.” Research and development (R&D), and in particular material innovation and related care products, have contributed significantly to the growth of the company. “In the beginning Manutti offered [designs] in wrought iron and wicker and a couple of table collections. Over the years we introduced collections that made us stronger year on year: in 2006, for example, we had the San Diego collection that impressed the outdoor market because of its rattan-style weaving. Nobody [else] had a collection that looked like rattan but which actually consisted of synthetic fibres. But the real breakthrough for Manutti was in 2009, with the Zendo collection. We introduced it completely in white, in Nautic imitation leather, like you also find on boats. We took a huge risk by launching this collection, it was new in the outdoor sector, but afterwards, luckily we could say that our instinct was right!”
hat mix of intuition and innovation has also seen the company incorporate LED lighting into table design (Luna, 2011) and when it comes to materials, De Winter is particularly excited about the development of new smooth, waterproof, anti-fungal fibres. De Winter, whose company has been one of the main proponents of modular outdoor seating concepts, also believes “a big challenge for the outdoor world is using the right upholstery for the right frame, especially powder-coated and stainless steel frames. We are already working on this and hope to give the customer more and more tailor-made furniture, based on his or her specific needs.” Manutti now offers 53 collections, which use materials such as thermo-lacquered aluminium, ceramic and recyclable fabrics such as Batyline and forest-managed teak which sees the company
work with Indonesian non-profit foundation Trees4Trees; as the company has grown, so have the needs of its customers. “We are a strong player on the residential market,” explains De Winter, “which in the beginning was our main focus. Two years ago we applied that knowledge to the contract sector and that effort has paid off: today the contract market represents thirty percent of our total turnover and we aim to raise it to fifty percent in 2013.” De Winter’s career has taken the kind of meandering path that gives the sometimes derisive expression Jack-of-all-trades a positive glow. His family owned a flax business, and as a youngster De Winter would help out. After completing his studies at night school, he, eventually ended up as an accountant for Verstraete-Hahn, a textile manufacturing company. Later on he joined Belgian furniture company Vincent Sheppard, developing its brand abroad, where the successful introduction of outdoor versions of Lloyd loom chairs stirred his alfresco spirit. And so to the garage. It wasn’t long before the company started testing the market. In 2002, Manutti showed its first products at spoga + gafa, a major garden trade fair in Cologne. Over the years it has participated in Maison & Objet in Paris and Singapore’s IFFS, while in 2010, Manutti made its first appearance at Milan’s Salone del Mobile and Interieur in Kortrijk. Presence at trade fairs is just one of the ways the company has steadily built up its global profile. Looking forward, Manutti is planning to increase its already impressive 400 points of sale, enhancing its international network of local dealers, agents and distributors. And despite the weather, De Winter identifies Belgium as the company’s biggest market, along with the Netherlands, France, Germany and other European countries. But Manutti has broad horizons and according to De Winter, the company is also “on
24 POLITICS & BUSINESS
the rise in countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America, Canada, Russia and Dubai. In the future we hope to build up our brand recognition in these countries.” Asia, and in particular the contract markets in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, are also becoming increasingly important.
valuable strategy for both the direction of its designs and meeting the demands and desires of the market. Manutti celebrates its 10th anniversary throughout 2012, under the name The Perfect 10. “We are a Belgian company and for the birthday event we wanted to show to our customers from around the world that we have world-class talent here in Belgium,” anutti proudly states that says De Winter, when explaining why Maits products are ‘Made in nutti asked 10 Belgian artists to create someBelgium’. Although it has thing special for the company. The results production centres in the include a cartoon by Herr Seele featuring Czech Republic, Indonesia and his famous character Cowboy Poland, manufacturing, espe- FACTS & FIGURES Henk, a CD by DJ and musician cially that of tables, also takes • 2011 turnover: €15 Buscemi and something tasty place in Belgium. De Winter million (up 25 from chocolatier Pierre Marcopercent on 2010) oversees an R&D team of five lini. Contemporary artist Jeanbut brings together a mix of • Four production Luc Moerman also joined the sites: Belgium, professionals with expertise Indonesia, Poland celebrations by taking part in in different fields. The com- and Czech Republic a live performance at the company has also collaborated • 400 points of sale pany’s stand at Milan’s Salone with Belgian designers such in 50 countries del Mobile in April, and will as Jürgen Oskamp (Achilles & • 400 employees repeat the experience at InterLatona collection, 2005), Bram ieur in October. Interieur is an • 53 collections Bollen (Liner collection, 2010) ideal place for Manutti to come and Gerd Couckhuyt (Mood www.manutti.com face to face with customers and table collection, 2012), and sees geographically significant for collaboration as key to the company’s suc- the company. As De Winter explains, “the cess. “In the future we certainly want to south of West Flanders is an interesting recontinue working with external designers gion because it’s an industrial area, you are to promote Belgian design on an interna- in the heart of the textile business and there tional level,” says De Winter. Manutti are also a lot of enterprising people. Unforalso emphasises its flexibility and ability tunately, the textile market has collapsed in to respond to and anticipate the needs of the last couple of years and therefore they are its diverse buyers, and takes the step of looking for different markets. The outdoor road-testing its design before a panel of market is one of them.” customers. Such exchanges can sometimes be more a monologue than a dialogue in real terms, but for Manutti the relationship is a
One of Jean-Luc Moerman's special 10th anniversary designs for Manutti Above right
Manutti founder Stephane De Winter
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Lifestyle & Community
LES MIDINETTES Have you always wanted to make your own clothes, but don’t really know how to get started? Join Les Midinettes, near Place Boniface in Ixelles. This new couture cafe recently opened its doors, and has a couple of sewing machines available for anyone who’d like to give making their own clothes a go. From sewing a hem to creating a whole new outfit, everything is possible. Or if pret-a-porter is more your thing, Les Midinettes also sells hand-made clothing. In terms of design format, think cyber cafe, but with sewing machines in a retro-inspired interior instead of computers. Tempted? An hour behind one of the machines costs €8 to €10. Check website for availability. 30 Rue Ernest Solvay, open from Monday to Friday, noon to 20.00; Saturday, 10.00 to 18.00. www.lesmidinettes.be
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LOVE AT FIRST BITE The inside scoop on foodie favourites Aline de Gottal
n March, two years of hard work paid off for Aline de Gottal when she opened her picture-perfect shop Pimpinelle on Brussels’ foodiest of all streets, Rue de Flandre. Former architect De Gottal has combined her eye for design with her sweet tooth, creating a three-in-one kitchen shop, cafe and culinary workshop. Her products are carefully selected following a few ground rules: no electronic gadgets; food books are fine, but no cookbooks. What you’ll find is unique, handcrafted kitchenware and tools that take traditional, durable materials and design them in some new way. When she’s not selling or serving, she brings in experts to hold workshops on art, photography and, of course, cooking. Pimpinelle, 57 Rue de Flandre 1000 Brussels, www.pimpinelle.be
Les Pénates is a small bar near Place Flagey in Ixelles. I discovered it with two of my friends who live on the square. I love to stop by and sample one of their wide selection of wines out on the terrace or in the backyard. They also serve small meals to eat between drinks. LES PÉNATES 42 Rue de Vergnies 1050 Ixelles www.lespenates.blogspot.com
“In the film, Peau d’Ane prepares a cake for her Prince Charming into which she slips a ring to let him know that his love is returned”
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I have a lot of favourite beverages, but for the moment my favourite thing to drink during the day is Elixia organic lemonade with rose. It’s an artisanal lemonade sweetened with agave syrup and produced in France. We sell it at Pimpinelle. It comes in three flavours: rose, natural and orange blossom.
La Caneva. It’s a small Italian restaurant in the centre of Brussels on Rue des Grands Carmes. There are only a few tables and it’s often fully booked, so you should really reserve. My favourite dish, hands down, is the ravioli with truffles. My boyfriend has been known to dream about this dish after a night there.
That is a difficult question! I would probably mention one product: the Alvenat colza oils produced in Wallonia by a group of people who are serious about making good products. There are many different kinds, but my favourite is called Fleur de Serpes. It’s an infusion of thyme, coriander, paprika, shallots and juniper berries in colza oil. Drizzled over a salad or used to marinate fish, it is divine!
This would be the recipe for the ‘Cake of Love’ from the film adaptation of Peau d’Ane [known in English as The Magic Donkey or Once Upon a Time] with Catherine Deneuve. In the film, Peau d’Ane [the story’s princess heroine, beautifully named Donkey Skin] prepares a cake for her Prince Charming into which she slips a ring to let him know that his love is returned. It was my favourite film as a child. I must have watched it at least 100 times!
We say: Elixia is made by Faustin Girardet, a familyrun French company that has been making lemonade since 1856. This carbonated drink is perfect for a sunny barbecue. For those looking for more of a kick, they also make a Faustin lemonade with wine
We say: This authentic Italian spot, tucked away behind the Grand’Place, might be less exotic than its neighbours Kokob and La Cantina Cubana, but it doesn’t want for cosiness. Picturesquely situated on a corner, with outside seating along an old cobblestoned alley, it’s a perfect place for a romantic evening of candlelight and great wine LA CANEVA 9 Rue des Grands Carmes 1000 Brussels Tel 02.512.34.47
Cuisinophilie in Paris is a tiny shop in the Marais where you can find plenty of vintage kitchen utensils. It’s a bit pricey, but the boutique is adorable. They sell egg beaters, coffee mills, old storage boxes, books, dishes, coffee pots, milk jugs, scales, old cake pans... the list goes on. And only manual utensils, which I love, of course! CUISINOPHILIE 28 Rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004 Paris Tel +184.108.40.206.07.32
CAKE OF LOVE
• 170g flour • 4 eggs • 200ml creamy milk • 100g sugar • 70g butter • ½ sachet yeast or sourdough yeast • 1 tsp honey • A pinch of salt • A ring for your true love Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the flour in a mixing bowl, make a well and crack in the eggs. Mix in the milk and sugar. Add the butter, yeast, honey and salt. Knead and let it rest for 30 minutes. Grease a cake tin and add the dough. Bake for 40 minutes to one hour. Optional: While kneading the dough, you can add a ring to let your Prince or Princess Charming know that their love is returned
46 LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY
DIGITAL Top technology
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French hardware maker Parrot embraced the design genius of Philippe Starck for a line of digital picture frames and stereo speakers, and now the French designer has worked his magic on a set of headphones. The Parrot Zik boasts many recent technological innovations, with active noise cancelling and a touch-sensitive panel that enables you to switch tracks, adjust the volume and pause your tunes. Price €350. www.parrot.com/zik
Japanese computer maker Toshiba moved out of the desktop PC market a decade ago, in favour of laptops. But now that tablets and smartphones have conquered the mobile space, the company is returning to stationary computers. Their new aim is to produce sleek high-quality home entertainment computers, like their new LX830: a desktop PC, television set, games console, video recorder and digital media library all in one box. Price €999. www.toshiba.com
Every hardware maker is jumping on the sound-system bandwagon these days, and Korean manufacturer Samsung is no exception. Their new series of docking stations boasts a set of fibre-optic speakers, a built-in subwoofer and Samsung’s own Tube Amp technology, which amplifies your sound by throwing it into a tube-like echo chamber. Their flagship product is the DA-E750, built into a sleek wooden retro design. Price €699. www.samsung.com
Bookmarks the best of the web
Multiple terabytes of storage memory, for which you would have needed an entire bay of hard drives just five years ago, can now rest inside a single portable hard drive. American manufacturer Western Digital delivers this incredible portable volume with its My Passport Studio 2TB, which also houses two FireWire ports for quick exchange of data with any computer or device, and has password protection. Price €420. www.wdc.com
www.brusselskitchen.com Beautiful guide to eating and drinking around Brussels, in French and English www.brusselslife.be Trilingual guide on where to go and what to do in Brussels www.tebiki.be Advice on sustainable living, in Brussels, in English
52â€‰ CULTURE & EVENTS
Cathedral to industry: the Waterschei mining complex in Genk
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Focus - Visual art
Digging deep As the contemporary art biennial Manifesta 9 settles in the former mining site of Waterschei in Genk, we explore its new take on the confrontation between industry past and present by tom peeters
t’s a busy summer for those with a passion for contemporary art. Across the region, events such as TRACK, Beaufort and Middleheim Museum 2012 (all under the Visual Arts Flanders umbrella) offer stimulating snapshots of art today. The most prestigious event is Manifesta 9, as for the first time Europe’s only nomadic art exhibition comes to Belgium. Not to Brussels, Antwerp or Ghent, but to the little-known city of Genk, the Limburg community that had to reinvent itself following the closure of its coal mines at the end of the 1980s. The former mining complex, a frequently overlooked yet majestic site, was a deliberate choice for the event that changes location every two years. Manifesta is about reviving economic wastelands through cutting-edge culture. Pursuing the notion of coal as a source of cultural energy is typical of its vocation, which extends beyond Europe to the Far East and Africa. The multicultural community of Genk has undergone a massive reorientation. Its industrial past centred on the black stuff, and tough, dirty underground work. It’s now looking towards an uncertain future that’s intrinsically linked to the past, something that struck Manifesta’s chief curator, the Mexican art historian Cuauhtémoc Medina, when exploring the region. In the surviving skeleton of the Art Deco main building of the Waterschei mine, Medina has initiated a complex dialogue between contemporary art, heritage and history. The exhibition is divided into these three sections, following
different paths, yet eventually entwining and coming together. At first it is a confusing experience, but when the stories of the selected artists start to intermingle, common themes arise about society and social progress in a world referred to as post-industrial – but is it really post-industrial? Manifesta 9 confronts its central narrative, ‘the Deep of the Modern’, by digging deep to answer questions about the need to constantly revolutionise in this period of industrial modernity. “Those were the days,” says Freddy Machiels, 70, a former miner at the neighbouring site in Winterslag, now converted into the cultural centre C-mine. He is our host as we jump on the Subjective Bus Line, one of the many parallel events that recall the industrial heritage and everyday lives of miners. The old bus with vintage orange seats adds to the notion of taking a trip back in time, and Machiels provides colourful insights full of spirited nostalgia. He was one of the many locals interviewed by Grzegorz Klaman, a Polish visual artist keen to preserve the mine’s ‘hidden voices’. He runs a similar bus line in the grounds of the former Gdansk shipyard in Poland which gave rise to the Solidarity movement in 1980 under Lech Walesa. At another ‘bus stop’ is the visual art platform FLACC, where Klaman’s interviews with residents are broadcast on small television screens attached to the workers’ old lockers, symbolising the coming together of private and work lives. It explains why the massive wall of old
tin boxes covered with photos and miners’ registration numbers is so effective and haunting, even for Machiels. The boxes, selected by Medina, originate from another cathedral of industry, the former mining site of Grand Hornu in Wallonia, which now houses art museums. “The work of the French artist Christian Boltanski not only addresses the end of coal mining,” says Medina, “but also the end of industry as such.” Of course, that is a fake thesis if you look at what’s happening in China nowadays. “The idea of living in a post-industrial world is indeed very regional,” admits the curator. “This Eurocentric worldview is easily dispelled once you step out of the European zone.”
edina has a special interest in artists who comment on the geographical displacement of industry. Photos of large-scale Chinese urban development projects, credited to the Toronto-based artist Edward Burtynsky, are one example. The Chinafrica photo series by Paolo Woods, featuring a Chinese businessman with a black gardener cleaning a swimming pool and a Chinese businessman with black construction workers, illustrates better the socio-economic shifts in a globalised world and, above all, the human relationships they create. In addition to exploring the history of mining coal, Manifesta 9 is concerned with the fragile relationships between people in a
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China Man by Edward Burtynsky
Installation by Claire Fontaine
Coal Drawing Machine by Carlos Amorales
Oh!m1gas by Kuai Shen
social, economical and political context: those above ground, below ground, giving orders and obeying orders. One of the first artists Medina approached was fellow countryman Carlos Amorales. His Coal Drawing Machine, a plotter printer producing charcoal drawings, shows how manual labour has been replaced by machines. The drawings are deliberately devoid of human expression.
n the historical section of the exhibition there is an intriguing segment showing Russian communist propaganda about Russian miner Alexey Stakhanov, who set an ‘all-union record’ in 1935 by digging 102 tons of coal in five hours and 45 minutes, when 6.5 tons was the norm. “Don’t forget, the most important working-class hero in the twentieth century was the coal miner,” explains Medina. “I wanted to incorporate images of personal cases and symbols, along with the statistics that were used by the government to increase production.” Oh!m1gas is an audiovisual installation by Ecuadorian artist Kuai Shen in which the frantic movement within a fire ant colony — including one gigantic hidden queen, some
large and bossy ant soldiers and a mass of small but busy worker ants cutting and transporting leaves — are registered via a needle and played on two record players. “There’s a reason I have put this installation in the former director’s office,” Medina explains. “It could be a metaphor for the social system. Ants live in a self-regulating structure that doesn’t depend on a central command. The reason the artist wants to crack that is precisely because of the almost utopian character of a system based on solidarity.” Retired miner Machiels couldn’t quite understand it; the noise hurt his ears, he said. But maybe that’s exactly who Medina is trying to reach. “There has to be a certain friction. We wanted visitors to leave their comfort zone. For the international audience, more at ease with the contemporary art section and less familiar with local history and heritage, it probably works the opposite way: they will be comfortable looking at the installation by the French collective artist Claire Fontaine, but the one about the Italian immigrant singer Rocco Granata, the son of a coal miner who worked in the Waterschei mine, is probably beyond their space of thinking.”
ESSENTIAL INFO MANIFESTA 9
Contemporary art (recent work by 39 artists), historical section and heritage section Waterschei mine André Dumontlaan, Genk Until September 30 www.manifesta9.org
Cuauhtémoc Medina CO-CURATORS
Katerina Gregos, Dawn Ades MORE ABOUT GENK AND LIMBURG
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CAPITAL LIFE Your city, your agenda Maria Palatine, 51, is a German harpist “Home is where my harp is,” you say on your website – what attracted you to Brussels? It was my love for Belgian glass artist and writer Bernard Tirtiaux. After having lived for two years in the countryside I thought it would be more useful for professional and social networking if I moved to Brussels. It’s true that this city vibrates with a multicultural and cosmopolitan atmosphere, and the people are friendly.
Is the success of harp-playing ‘new folk’ artists such as Joanna Newsom good publicity? Every harp player who finds means of expression beyond classical or folk music helps to make the instrument more accessible. I belong to the generation who have ‘freed’ the harp – one of the most feminine and sensual instruments – from the nostalgic clichés. I have always felt this urge to stretch the stylistic limits of the harp. On my latest CD, I mix electronic with acoustic sounds; I oscillate between pop, folk and classical.
You teach the harp – do you dream of discovering young mini-Maria Palatines? Of course, through my harp lessons I pass on the fruits of my own work history. Pupils from a professional background, especially, benefit from my openness towards different styles of music. She by Maria Palatine is out now www.mariapalatine.com
My diary FRIDAY JUNE
COULEUR CAFÉ Two acts in
HARP CENTRE BRUSSELS
particular interest me this year, among the many artists playing at the festival: Imany and Erykah Badu Tour & Taxis www.couleurcafe.be
Never seen or touched a harp? It’s time to visit this place – with no obligation to become a harp player! 188 Rue Théodore Verhaegentel, tel 04220.127.116.11 www.harpcenterbrussels.com
PLACE DE BETHLEHEM A good
tip for a sunny day, with its beach-party atmosphere, playgrounds and open-air restaurants serving good food at reasonable prices.
L’IDIOT DU VILLAGE
If you want to mark the middle of the week with a romantic dinner, this is the place to go 19 Rue Notre-Seigneur
The Water for All exhibition at the Atomium
WATER FOR ALL Exhibition
SAINT-GILLES MARKET This
CHÂTEAU DE SENEFFE Always
about water, which has become one of my passions; it is a beautiful and inspiring element Atomium, Square de l’Atomium www.atomium.be/eau
very cosy market takes place in the afternoon and, on Thursday afternoons, it has a stall with organic seasonal produce Parvis de Saint-Gilles www.bioguide.be/marches
worth a trip, with the opportunity to see outdoor exhibitions in noble surroundings 7-9 Rue Lucien Plasma, Seneffe www.chateaudeseneffe.be
CATHEDRAL OF SAINT-MICHEL AND GUDULE Whether or not
you’re a Catholic, it’s a must to experience Mass here, if only for the sound of the organ Parvis Sainte-Gudule, www. cathedralestmichel.be
There will be no Brussels International on TV Brussel over the summer break. But don’t forget to tune in again at 18.15 on September 2 for the next programme, and you can watch previous episodes online at www.tvbrussel.be