Volume 04 â€” Issue 05
Neighbourhood Life + Global Style
Neighbourhood White wash Life Ivory coats Style Pale shape Music Girls aloud Culture Cloud sourcing + The Food Special
The white album
Publisher and editor-in-chief Nicholas Lewis Design
facetofacedesign + pleaseletmedesign
Writers Sabine Clappaert Guy Dittrich Rose K elleher Nicholas Lewis Melisande McBurnie Jack Moyersoen P hilippe Pourhashemi Sarah Schug Sam Steverlynck Robbert van Jaarsveld Photographers/Illustrators Ulrike Biets Julie Calbert Sarah Eechaut Yana Foque Veerle Frissen M elika Ngombe Grégoire P leynet Stine Sampers Yassin Serghini Virassamy Interns K athy Boros (communication) Pauline M iko (photography) R aya R ayax (graphic design)
The editor’s letter
As was to be expected, the white album’s editor’s letter really was the one where my brain’s copywriting function decided to bug out. I toyed with different angles, jotted down a few thoughts, put certain ideas to the team. I even considered leaving the entire page blank. You know, cause I’m smart like that. Yet, despite the ideas flowing abundantly, words simply didn’t want to come. Maybe it was the realisation that an increasing amount of people read the magazine, and this page specifically, and all the weight and responsibility that came with (let’s just pretend here for a second alright?). Or maybe that, after twenty-plus editions, you’ve kind of done the rounds in terms of blueprints to editor’s letters (there’s the ‘this is what you can expect in this edition’ version, the ‘there was a moment when we thought we wouldn’t make the deadline’ version and, my personal favourite, the ‘this edition reminded me of why I got into publishing in the first place’ version) and there’s only so many times the format can be re-written. Most likely though, it simply was the fact that, after a long and strenuous year, both professionally and personally, I felt most comfortable letting the pages, and the stories, do the talking. The thing is, our team of designers, writers, photographers, illustrators, stylists and interns go to great lengths to translate a given edition’s colour into content. They don’t merely pitch ideas and execute them. They own their stories and live through their subjects, and their work really needs no introduction. So maybe, just maybe, it’s a good thing words failed me for once. Back in February 2012 so make sure to sign-on to our newsletter, visit our website, like us on Facebook and read us on the iPad to be kept in the loop on all things Word until then.
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© Sarah Eechaut
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On this cover Artist Manor Grunewald in his Ghent studio
The FOOD Special
Damir Domaâ€™s quest for meaning
Wired for sound
The school of white socks
A burger bonanza
My little white screen
A table for Belgium
Facing the blank canvas
Above the clouds
It’s a Word’s world Julie Calbert photographer
Rose Kelleher writer
Grégoire Pleynet photographer
Guy Dittrich writer
Pages 23, 25, 26, 42–45
About We first profiled Julie’s work in our Blue album, her tone and narrative fitting the edition’s overall direction like a glove. For this white album, we instantly thought of the recentlygraduated rising star for our end of magazine section, ’The view’.
About First it was the odd article or two, and now Rose’s co-ordinating entire features for us – as well as much more that the odd article or two. Irish but based in Brussels for four years now, she freelances for a number of publications in the UK, but Brussels really is where her heart is at.
About Grégoire was brought to our attention through photographer Tine Claerhout, whom he assists. Of Belgo-French origin, we first started working with Grégoire on our Blue album release party, for which he happily snapped up the evening’s beautiful people.
About Guy’s a freelance writer with a special knack for design and travel stories. Based in Brussels, the British-born writer freelances for publications such as Wallpaper as well as being in charge of the Wallpaper City Guide to Brussels. A newcomer to the magazine’s pages, Guy’s our go-to guy for those stories that float in the upper crusts of society.
Task We knew we’d want to do something with, or on, clouds for our white album, but weren’t quite sure how. We put the idea to Julie, whose first response was slightly dubious. “It’s a little bizarre as a theme,” was her exact answer. Still, she took on the challenge, and delivered a softspoken, series on clouds of all shape and form. Quote “I just spent several hours in the air, watching what was going on, the comings and goings, the flat areas. That’s what’s fun with the clouds, everyone can see what he wants, and invent stories.”
Task For this edition, Rose interviewed transparency advocates, looked into the white noise syndrome, had a laugh with the telling sides of having landed in a white neighbourhood and, finally, had a crack at selecting some of our best and most outlandish coke scenes – just for kicks. Quote “There’s a scene in Robocop where some coiffed hotshot snorts cocaine off a hooker’s chest. It’s worth the hour and a half of 80s you have to watch to get to it. The scene didn’t make the list, but what I learned from this was that there are women who passed as sexy in the 80s who would never make the grade today.”
Task For this white album, we enlisted Grégoire to capture the cream of the crop of traditional Belgian tables in Brussels – six of them in total. As well as photographing the restaurants, their staff and their specialities, he also sometimes got to dig into a plate or two. Quote “Conviviality is the common thread binding all these traditional restaurants together.”
Task For this edition’s food special, we commissioned Guy to review Bouchéry, Brussels’ latest contender for a Michelin star. Quote “Like many experiences in Brussels, Bouchéry is modest in nature but a real treat. The Bruxellois are rightly proud of their cuisine and this is a stand out venue.”
The whiteboard Exhibitions Arts Music Shows Parties
01. Currently on Word radio waves: Dynooo’s latest LP Vvideo Hair, out on Surf Kill (email email@example.com for your chance to win a 12” edition of the Ghent-based prodigy producer’s album) and Californian two-piece Girls’ follow-up effort Father, Son, Holy Ghost out on True Panther (turn to page 72 for an interview with frontman Christopher Owens). / 02. Arizona Blueberry White Tea, the freshest thing to have hit Brussels streets since Vitaminwater. / 03. Brussels’ town hall gets the snowball treatment. / 04. Fluocaril toothpaste was a major part of our childhood. Just as much as cod liver oil tablets and an-apple-a-day dressing downs were. / 05. Launched earlier this year by Ghinzu frontman John Stargasm and Frederic Nicolay, Volga’s playful take on Russian references and subtle design detail have made it the house draught at some of the city’s choosiest drinking dens. Pictured with its standard bottle is the beer’s nine-pack flat pack, soon to be hitting the shelves of a supermarket near you. / 06. The Whitey Album by Ciccone Youth (1988), The Wall by Pink Floyd (1979) and Goo by Sonic Youth (1990). / 07. A vintage soap box found at Les Petits Riens / Spullenhulp. / 08. Want to know what gets us through deadlines? Oreo cookies and a fresh glass of milk. / 09. The office’s trusted white teapot, bought for a bargain at Brussels’ flea market. All photography Yassin Serghini.
Belgium ( 01 10 )
Until 15th January 2012 Bozar, Brussels bozar.be
* The party you can’t miss Black Out @ Mr. Wong (Brussels), on 10th December – Catclub’s wild little sister is back with another memorable night blending old school house with italo-disco and new wave. Jessica 6 LIVE (NYC), Baris K (Istanbul) and Lady Jane (Brussels) behind the decks to make sure you’re kept on your feet until dawn.
A visual artist since 1983, Dutch-born Boris Tellegen (also known as Delta by his street-savvy peers) first began as a graffiti artist in and around Amsterdam, going on to build up quite the name for himself across European shores through his use of 3D techniques. Having now graduated to the world of studios and galleries, his current work still exudes the energy and sparks of his graffiti years (the geometrical and three-dimensional nature of most of his works remains) although it has gained in maturity as far as the execution and, most importantly, the narrative are concerned. His works tell a story now, come to life and battle for attention: it’s not always easy to look at Tellegen’s work, although that only adds to its sheer power and immediacy. Boris Tellegen aka Delta: Abundance
From 24th November to 23rd December Alice Gallery, Brussels alicebxl.com
© Walter Firmo
With its comprehensive retrospective of internationally renowned Belgian photographer Dirk Braeckman, Leuven’s M Museum provides as extensive an overview as possible of the famously restrained photographer’s body of work, ranging from his early-beginning selfportraits to his newer landscape images. What’s more, the viewer gets the chance to examine the artist’s experimentations with digital photography, a technique he only recently began toying with. The mysterious and anonymous quality of his photos however prevails throughout Braeckman’s whole oeuvre, avoiding to emphasize the link with the subject and opting instead for unfocused presentations in dark shades of grey. Absolutely not to be missed.
Until 8th January 2012 M Museum, Leuven mleuven.be 04.
Robert Devriendt’s miniature oil paintings tell intimate stories by showing fragments of people, animals, landscapes or spaces which greatly resemble film stills. With his special attention to detail and precise, realistic painting technique harking back to the Flemish Primitives, he creates an intriguing world full of sensuality. A fetishist, a young girl, a blood stained dog, a taxidermist – these and other figures make regular appearances in his at times obscure and gloomy series of work, set in a natural decor with Devriendt slipping into the role of a hermit living an insular life in the woods. Fittingly, the exhibition The woods of love and horror, which bears resemblance to an unfinished film, is inspired by murder mysteries and crime thrillers.
© Courtesy A.L.I.C.E. Gallery
Extremes Brazilian Photography 1840/2011
Robert Devriendt: The woods of love and horror
Until 23rd December Galerie Baronian Francey, Brussels baronianfrancey.com
© Dirk Braeckman, Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery Antwerp
Encompassing contemporary photographs and images of recent decades as well as daguerreotypes, ferrotypes and ambrotypes which illustrate the first 100 years before the negative was even born, this exhibition takes the viewer on a journey through time and through a country of contrasts whilst staying clear of the usual clichés (you know, see, sex and sun). At times dreadful, at others breathtakingly beautiful, Bozar’s extensive and eclectic visual voyage deep into a land of opposites and extremes perfectly captures the vastness, cultural diversity and geographic heterogeneity of the Amazon rain forest’s desolate hinterland that characterises Brazil in so many ways.
* The festival to catch Autumn Falls @ Brussels, from 21st to 27th November – Reading like a rollcall of indie rock’s current cream of the crop (everyone from Suuns and Metronomy to Matthew Herbert and Fool’s Gold), Autumn Falls’ second edition comes back with an ever bigger line up, ovetaking the city’s live venues for a five day rampage.
© Courtesy Baronian Francey
When less is more
© Gordon Watkinson
Rarely in history has a design and architectural movement had such a profound impact as Bauhaus which laid down the principles that would go on to become the foundations of modern architecture. With his archive images of buildings constructed between 1923 and 1930 by Bauhaus legends Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or Hannes Meyer, American photographer Gordon Watkinson captures their timeless character, drawing comparisons with recent constructions built by such contemporary architects as Allmann Sattler Wappner or Galli & Rudolf. Embracing technology and functionality whilst focusing on finding solutions for design problems in urban planning and housing, Bauhaus, 90 years after its creation, is as relevant as ever, a fact Watkinson’s photographs make abundantly clear. 06.
Bauhaus XX-XXI: Photographs by Gordon Watkinson
Until 5th February 2012 Civa, Brussels civa.be
© Vincent Fournier
© Courtesy of the artist and D+T Project gallery
Money makes the world go round
Exploring themes of capitalism, corporate cultures and political speech, Fiction, Narrative & History touches upon some highly controversial issues of our times through the works of several different artists. With his video analysis of the Marxist and Communist legacies in today’s world, American artist Zachary Formwalt unravels its close-knit relationships to contemporary symbols and media imagery. Swedish artist duo Goldin&Senneby host a conference surrounding the movie Headless at Regus which delves into the artists’ research into offshore financing and the activities of an imaginary company called Headless. And finally, Dutch video and performance artist Nicoline van Harskamp uses footage of conversations, speeches or autobiographies to reveal the power of the spoken word. High-minded and highbrowed stuff not for the faint-hearted. Fiction, Narrative & History
Until 23rd December D+T Project dt-project.com
You could say photographer Vincent Fournier has it in for robots and rockets. Having travelled the world on a quest to document the secret and unknown world of space exploration (his passion project has taken the Frenchman everywhere from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia and the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah to the Atacama Desert Observatories in Chile, Fournier’s photographs capture with mystifying exactitude the intriguing world of space research, doing so with all the innocence, exuberance and excitement of a child. This is the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist’ work in Brussels, and is sure to delight fans of Solaris and 2001, A Space Odissey alike.
* Last days to see Thierry de Cordier @ Xavier Hufkens Gallery (Brussels), until 10th December – With artworks dominated by dark colors and grey tints the Belgian contemporary artist creates a gloomy mental landscape full of fragility and inner suffering whilst searching for protection, symbolised best by his sculptures of semi-human figures and primitive buildings giving shelter.
Vincent Fournier – Space project
From 17th November until 18th January 2012 Joye Gallery, Brussels joyegallery.be
© Peter Lindbergh
* The art fair to go to Lineart Art Fair @ Flanders Expo (Ghent), from 2nd to 6th December – Otfen living in Art Brussels’ shadow, Lineart has nonetheless carved out a niche for itself as the art fair for the studious. Celebrating its 30th birthday, this year’s edition comes with a special focus on Japan, as well as a newly established photography section, Photo Art Zone.
Behind the runways
With his melancholic photographs of international supermodels Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss or even Tatjana Patitz marked by their effortless character and emotional depth, German fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh brought the new faces to worldwide attention. A master of black and white photography, he contributed more than any in shaping the fashion scene of the last 25 years. Combining a selection of Lindbergh’s world famous images with his more recent work as well as a series he shot for Vogue in Berlin in 2009, this comprehensive exhibition is a must for photography and fashion fans alike. Peter Lindbergh
Until 29th January 2012 FotoMuseum, Antwerp fotomuseum.be
United Kingdom ( 11 16 ) Video killed the radio star
Mixing reality and fiction, Belgian artist and filmmaker Johan Grimonprez, a child of the first TV generation, explores and documents the ever-growing influence television, cinema, advertising and the news have on our perception of the world and the imminent risk of manipulation. His video works, which play with delusion and deception whilst exposing the importance of the moving image in our lives, are based on recycled images taken from news broadcasts, documentary material, Hollywood movies, animated films and commercials as well as from historical archival items. In his award-winning video collage Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y for instance Grimonprez explores the worldwide history of high-jackings. And it is exactly this kind of uncanny relevance that draws you in. Think of him as a Michael Moore but with an even bigger grin.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence
From 23rd November to 15th January 2012 Institute of Contemporary Arts, London ica.org.uk
Until 29th January S.M.A.K, Gent smak.be
* The sale you can’t miss
Coca-Cola: 125 years of design
Until 26th February 2012 Design Museum, Ghent designmuseumgent.be
© Courtesy of Cornelia Baltes and Bloomberg New Contemporaries
Since its invention 125 years ago, CocaCola has become the drink that conquered the world - with an iconic design recognised by all. The Design Museum Gent has gathered a massive collection of advertising artworks, photos, bottles, cans, posters, vending machines and paintings illustrating the evolution of the Coca-Cola brand and especially the story of its design, with a particular focus on its innovative and influential advertising. Its persuasive power is best revealed by the Santa Claus campaign, having managed to change its identifying colour from green to red. Star of the show: an original Haddon Sundblom painting from the legendary campaign.
© Terence Conran, circa 1950 © Ray Williams
* The night you can’t misss Bozar Night @ Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels), on 25th November – Following its Bozar Electronic Weekend end of October, electronic music comes back to haunt the Bozar’s halls for a night at the museum guaranteed to be high on trebbles and bass. Top of the bill The Herbaliser band and Legowelt live. Boom.
The next generation
Putting forward new artistic talent and exposing recent visual arts developments, Bloomberg New Contemporaries showcases the crème de la crème of the UK’s art school graduates, often putting its finger with surprising accuracy on the next generation’s crop of rising stars. The project, established in 1949, is devoted to give young emerging artists the opportunity to shine in a highprofile exhibition at an essential moment in their career, whilst revealing to audiences the newest trends to have hit the art world. International superstars Damien Hirst and David Hockney are just two examples of former contributors.
© Johan Grimonprez, still from dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997)
Midcentury Modern @ Dulwich College (London), on 20th November – This one-day shop is the kind of place where you’ll find 20th century design classics sitting side to side with pieces from emerging British designer talents. Furniture, wallpaper, ceramics or fabrics – everything’s up for grabs and, what’s more, suitable for all kinds of budgets.
Sir Terence Conran, design pioneer, retailer and restaurateur, has influenced the look of the British home like no other. With the foundation of his internationally successful furniture chain Habitat in 1964, he transformed the face of British interiors forever, creating an entirely new furnishing experience characterised by modern, simple forms, natural materials and a fresh colour palette. The London Design Museum pays tribute to Conran’s legacy and his unique impact on contemporary life, celebrating his 80th birthday with a major exhibition displaying the breadth of his work that also includes projects such as designing the interior of the Concorde and Terminal One at Heathrow airport. Terence Conran: The way we live now
Until 4th March 2012 Design Museum, London designmuseum.org
© Laura Oldfield Ford
With a pitiless and relentless eye, Laura Oldfield Ford unveils London’s changing city landscape in times of urban renewal and redevelopment. Her drawings, composed with ballpoint pens as well as acrylic and spray paint spotlight the city’s abandoned places and wastelands in a photorealistic way. Ford’s highly political works, pinpoint the social tensions between those who can afford to shop in the glittering new shopping malls and those who are left behind – a theme that the artist explores extensively in her selfpublished ’zine ’Savage Messiah’. Laura Oldfield Ford: Transmissions from a discarded future
From 25th November to 14th January 2012 Hales Gallery, London halesgallery.com
© Paul McCarthy, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, photo: Fredrik Nilsen
© Brian Paumier, courtesy Fred (London) Limited
* The market to go to
© Batman and Bunny, Image courtesy Luhring Augustine ©George Condo
Pop Up Vintage Fair @ Islington Assembly Hall (London), on 20th November – Whether a granma-style cupcake stand is what you’re after, or a perfect-fit vintage piece is what’s topping your wishlist, chances are Islington’s Pop Up Vintage Fair has a stall for you. Fashion, accessories, jewelry, homeware and antiques all combine to make this market a vintage lover’s paradise.
Queer as folk
Taking a fresh look at identity, reflection and the sense of self, this group show by Fred (London) Limited exhibits recent portrait works by gay and transgender artists from around the globe. Using their bodies as a canvas and examining their own projected image, the artists explore wider and deeper themes such as their relationship with their health or biting cultural and political issues through customary humour and wit. Ranging from a wall of wigs to a pair of hairy breasts or poses in black lace in the corner of a sheep pen, this self-reflective body of work excels and endears through its sheer diversity. Queer Self Portraits Now
From 24th November to 29th January 2012 Fred [London] Ltd, London fred-london.com
Paul McCarthy is not only one of the most important and influential contemporary American artists but also one of the most willingly provocative. Disrespecting and mocking sacred cultural references, his sexually charged and somewhat violent works are a critique of the American culture and consumerism. Since the early 90s, McCarthy’s performance-based art is mainly focused on creating sculptures, many of them mechanical, which he directs in monumental stage productions. The seemingly chaotic but nevertheless thoughtfully arranged ’Pig Island’ for instance, a mix of low and high culture that has been evolving over a period of seven years, exposes an immoral world with a population ranging from Hollywood actors and politicians to Disney characters or pirates and cowboys. It’ll disturb and shock you, yes, but it is also guaranteed to make you laugh. Paul McCarthy: The King, The Island, The Train, The House, The Ship
Until 14th January 2012 Hauser & Wirth, London hauserwirth.com 16.
Beauties and beasts
In what is the first major retrospective of American artist George Condo featuring about 80 of his paintings and sculptures from the past 28 years, tragedy and comedy collide unashamedly. Uniting the beautiful and the grotesque, Condo’s portraits, displaying fantasy characters as well as The Queen of England for instance, are defined by their adventurous, imaginative and provocative character. Completed by a series of sculptural heads made out of gilded bronze, Mental States provides an overview of the body of work created by one of Keith Haring’s or Jean Michel Basquiat’s contemporaries. George Condo: Mental states
Until 8th January 2012 Hayward Gallery, London southbankcentre.co.uk
* The art fair you can’t miss RCA Secret 2011 @ Royal College of Art (London), on 26th November – The idea is rather straightforward: postcard-size artworks, all going under the hammer for 45 pound a pop, and all done under the auspice of anonymity. So you could just as well end up with a piece from an undergad as you could from, say, Tracy Emin.
In the context of the museum’s largescale renovation, the award-winning Belgian artist-come-design duo Studio Job (Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel), were commissioned to refurbish the building’s entrance hall. The result is an ostentatious and extravagant fantasy world inspired by the private clubs of the 19th century, full of smoking gentlemen in top hats and displaying an outlandish sense of luxury. Including detailed features such as breast-shaped lightings, an assortment of plastic gothic chairs or a sculptured fountain, the designers stay true to their roots whilst continuing to apply their unique blend of ironic wit and old-and-new culture clashes to dizzying effects.
France © Studio Job Silverware (portrait) 2007, photo: Robert Kot ©Bisazza Mosaico
Holland ( 17 18 ) 17.
( 19 20 )
Access all areas
In what is the first major retrospective in France of American photographer Diane Arbus, one of the most internationally renowned and influential photo artists in history, her wellknown photographs of the weird and wonderful are juxtaposed with many that have never been publicly exhibited before. With a special affinity for marginal people living on the fringes of society, Arbus found her subjects walking through New York City or in dressing rooms, hotel lobbies and living rooms whilst traveling through the United States - portraying nudists, giants, dwarfs and transvestites as well as everyday couples, children or middle-class families. A must for fans of Arbus’ travelling circus of fantastical beings.
Studio Job & the Groninger Museum
Until 4th March 2012 Groninger Museum, Groningen groningermuseum.nl
Until 5th February 2012 Jeu de Paume, Paris jeudepaumes.org
The times they are a-changin’
* The shop to drop by
19. © A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966 ©The Estate of Diane Arbus
On the occasion of its 10 th anniversary Foam Amsterdam takes the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on photography as an art form, its recent developments and, most important of all, its future. Throughout the last few years, photography has undergone radical changes, the transition from analogue to digital photography being the most significant one: photographs that could once only be touched and were printed on paper have today turned into ephemeral, elusive images. By presenting varying exhibition concepts, four different artists try to find a response to the question ’What’s next?’, taking into account the different aspects of today’s photography as digital imagery.
© Foam What’s Next photo ©Mark Horn
What’s next? Four visions on exhibiting photography
Until 7th December Foam, Amsterdam foam.nl
* The festival to catch
© Mur de bananes, Deitch Projects, New York, USA, 2008
International Documentary Film Festival @ Amsterdam, until 27th November – Ever since its first edition in 1988, the IDFA has grown into becoming the biggest documentary film festival on the planet. Opening the festival this year is Danish director Mads Brügger’s ’The Ambassador’, which exposes the trade in diplomatic passports in Africa.
Damir Doma Pop Up Store @ L’Eclaireur (Paris), until 30th December – Damir Doma, up and coming fashion design talent from Croatia, temporarily exposes his original creations in Parisian fashion store L’Eclaireur. More than a mere pop up boutique, the temporary store will also recreate the designer’s studio environment with artistic installations.
The man who sold the world
Selling culture, selling corporations, selling friends and even himself. These are the four categories Les Arts Décoratifs uses to present a selection of Austrian artist and Stefan Sagmeister’s body of work. One of the most original graphic designers of his generation and a master of the art of selling, Sagmeister, who has worked for music legends Lou Reed or the Rolling Stones as well as internationally established brands such as Levi’s or BMW, makes no distinction between artistic and commercial design. Highlighting the breadth of his graphic language, the exhibition combines intimate drawings, gigantic installations, posters, logos and commercial catalogues to provide a rounded view of Sagmeister’s last seven years of sales. Stefan Sagmeister: Another exhibit about promotion and sales material
Until 19 th February 2012 Les Arts Décoratifs lesartsdecoratifs.fr
The pick of gigs to come James Blake @ L’ Ancienne Belgique on 21st November
Come Truise and Nosedrip @ Charlatan on 23rd November
Suuns @ VK on 24th November
Panda Bear @ Botanique on 28th November
Proving once again that soft
American Seth Haley’s
Probably the darkest
Noah Lennox, Animal
is the new loud, 22 year old
electronic solo project with
(and loudest) thing to
Collective ringleader, has
Having done more than
out a nice little niche for
London-based James Blake
the comical stage name –
come out of Canada, the
more than a trick under his
anyone in bringing some
themselves in the hip hop
has taken the world by storm
based on a spoonerism of
four-piece known for its
sleeve. Having surprised
disco cool back to the
world with their blend of
with his minimalistic, pared-
Tom Cruise – produces
intense live shows offers
Collective fans with his solo
dance floor with his
insider jokes and off-track
down productions and
a hypnotic, pitch-black
project Person Pitch four
Hercules & Love Affair
references. They’re funny,
sweet-scented vocals. Fragile
tunes tilting towards 80s
sound characterised by
years ago, he’s now back with
crew, Andy Butler has
they’re smart and, what’s
yet sharp, Blake’s self-titled
computer music, electronic
pulsating beats, howling
his latest baby, Panda Bear.
since become the unofficial
more, they actually can
2010 debut became one of
funk and a heavy load of
sirens, shouting guitars and
spokesman for a generation
rap. What’s more, they’ve
the most acclaimed album
synthesizers. Something of
lead singer Ben Shemie’s
of nostalgic club music
attracted the attention of
releases of 2010, placing
a harder-nosed Dam Funk.
with retro-style psychedelic
lovers. Playing a DJ set
hip hop heavyweights, with
his sound somewhere
With as supporting act
Gloomy but nonetheless
rock, Lennox continues to
and supported by Jeremy
Company Flow front man
between new-age Soul and
Belgium’s Nosedrip (think
create timeless, subliminal
Glenn (We Play House),
El-P name-dropping the trio
Electronica. What Brian
The Gaslamp Killer), the
will delight the fans of Can
expect a night of suggestive
whenever he’s got a chance
Eno would sound like had he
night promises to be heavy
and Talking Heads alike.
that delight in their depth.
danse moves and sexy-hot
to. Jokes and beats, what
been born in the year 2000.
on the bass and high on
Supported by New York
more could you want really?
underground cult band
Andy Butler (DJ set) & Jeremy Glenn @ Vooruit on 2nd December
Das Racist @ Trix on 7th December
Das Racist have carved
Gang Gang Dance, this one
on 22nd November
promises to be colourful.
on 22nd November
Play Paris (Maroquinerie)
on 23rd November
(La Gaîté Lyrique)
(Le Point Ephémère)
on 29th November
on 6 th December
on 1st December
on 8 th December
Plays London (HMV Forum) on 30th November
The Horrors @ L’ Ancienne Belgique on 8th December
Caribou Vibration Ensemble @ Vooruit on 8th December
on 1st December
Battles @ De Kreun on 8th December
Thurston Moore @ Vooruit on 13th December
Battles’ math-rock, sharp
He isn’t as angst-ridden
Friendly Fires @ Botanique on 15th December
Stereo MCs @ Trix on 18th December
It’s been three years since
We all grew up with Stereo
Friendly Fires first popped
MCs’ groovy blend of
Four years after the
Besides the highly acclaimed
and unforgiving, has an
as he was in his earlier
up on our radar with their
dance-rap, with songs like
release of their debut
studio album ’Swim’ –
intensity to it not unlike
years (he plays acoustic
self-titled debut album. In
Step it Up and Connected
album, The Horrors have
who hasn’t danced to this
the last couple of seconds
now, publishes literary
May of this year, the UK
topping our nineties
developed from a rather
summer’s electro pop anthem
just before a tornado. Their
works and actually looks
band released its follow-up
playlist. Back with its
’Odessa’ – the champions
music exudes a sense of
fifty) but, although Noise
album, Pala, which proved
latest album Emperor’s
of new disco released a live
menace, not really through
legend Thurston Moore
its worth in sonic layering
Nightingale, the boys
band with ridiculously
album featuring a rather
their compositions but
has mellowed-out quite
and distances the band
might not pack the same
big hair into a matured,
more through the band’s
a lot lately, he retains the
from its earlier days of
punch as before, but we
Caribou performed together
on-point delivery. Listen
same mystic and intensity
’danceable rock’. Think
still wouldn’t’t miss the
wide-reaching outfit whose
with the so-called Vibration
to their latest album, Gloss
that elevated his cult band
Klaxons but with more
chance to catch these
most recent album ’Skying’
Ensemble in New York
Drop, and you’ll know
Sonic Youth to legendary
soul. Think Azari & III but
even made it into the UK
including a number of other
what we mean. Battles don’t
status. With his latest
with more percussions and
Top 5 album charts. Think
great musicians such as
fuck around, even without
cold 80s synth sounds,
Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden,
a charismatic front man.
Thoughts, produced by
psychedelic rock and
a choir, several horns and
Beck, the night won’t be
various drummers. Don’t
excursions into shoegaze.
as wild as it once would
(Melkweg) on 16th
miss the rare opportunity to
see the Caribou Vibration
on 21st November
Ensemble perform together
Plays Paris (La
on 7 th December
Gaîté Lyrique) on 11th
Play London (Scala)
Plays Amsterdam (De
on 11th December
on 7 th December
Guif) on 12th December
Play Luxembourg (Kulturfabrik) on 17th December
The Word & Levis presents
The white album’s colour chart
7200 – Duifwit
— A collaborative study in differents shades of white
The papers Cinema Art Society Crime Retail
The white papers In what turned out to be a very large interpretation of the colour white, this month’s papers see us talking to a hostage negotiator, speculate on the end of the white race, round up some memorable cocaine scenes, visit a store entirely dedicated to paper, wonder why ’white’ neighbourhoods aren’t as clearly defined in the human consciousness as, say, ’Black’ or ’Asian’ neighbourhoods and, finally, get to the bottom of that little white screen that’s suddenly appeared in Brussels’ Dansaert/Dansaart district. Says all kinds of different whites really. Writers Sabine Clappaert, Rose Kelleher, Nicholas Lewis, Sarah Schug and Sam Steverlynck
ˆ “ But if you have ‘Arabic’ and ‘Black’ and ‘Asian’ communities, which are (rightly or wrongly) used as common classifications, what about ‘white’ ones? ”
White ’hoods If there is such a thing as a “white neighbourhood”, those guys have got the organic food shop thing nailed to the fucking floor. With tongue lodged firmly in cheek, copywriter Christian Lander created a blog back in 2008 called stuffwhitepeoplelike, an inventory of everything left-wing, upper-middle-class and appealing to a certain “kind” of Caucasian that stretched our satirical sensibilities all the way from “going camping” to “Barack Obama” (not on the list – going camping with Barack Obama). This pop-psychology highway rest-stop of ridiculousness led to 20 million page visits and a Random House dotted line. It generated belly laughter and hyperventilating accusations of racism in equal measure, though none of the stereotypes are particularly demeaning. Lander’s “white” people, those of a designation that once wasn’t a designation at all, a default while everything else was some kind of “ethnic”, always had the luxury of not having to grapple with the significance of their own ethnic background. In Brussels, we are a
mix of multi-ethnic Arabic, Black, and Asian communities, along with a squillion others that nobody’s bothered to categorise. All shades of miserable faces greet you as you slide around your dirty burnt orange plastic metro seat. But if you have “Arabic” and “Black” and “Asian” communities, which are (rightly or wrongly) used as common classifications, what about “white” ones? Not everyone is sure that it’s okay to say that. Is it fair to say that there are areas of Brussels with more organic food shops, or yoga workshops? Or bikes with baby seats, manned by women with cloth shoulder bags full of expensive free-trade, sugar-free, bio, organic, meat-free, free-range sandwiches wrapped in recycled whatever? What about antique shops, where Brussels’ paler denizens buy moldy coats from the 40s? More bars and emptier streets? Halal butchers, wig shops and five euro haircuts are not a feature of Uccle’s dog poo littered streets (’whites’ like dogs - their piles of poo create more work for Belgians than the warring governments combined). So is Uccle white? That’s either racist or exactly the opposite. Is Harlem white? Is it fuck. Alastair Bonnett, Professor of Social Geography at Newcastle
University isn’t buying it. “In Europe, people are increasingly using these labels, but they don’t have the same historical meaning they have in the US. Organic food shops, antiques… everybody is interested in those things, but it depends on wealth. We tie them to class, and in America, which is a really racially divided country, being middle class and being white are becoming the same thing. The idea that we live in racially identifiable places may work there, sort of, but in Europe, with all its ethnicities, conflicts and relatively small nonwhite population, it really doesn’t. We need to have confidence in our own history.” While we might laugh at the suggestion that there are neighbourhoods with more Pilates classes or adults on skateboards, conversations about what is “white” tend to spiral speedily into heated discussions about unpopular dead Belgian monarchs. A touchy subject, dotted with disclaimers, like “I’m not racist, but…” Oh fuck it, there’s a Pilates class somewhere that needs me. (RK)
ˆ “ Whites only actually become a minority when you count all other groups together in one big murky mass of non-white people who are somehow different from that uniquely unique race of Western European Caucasoids ”
Jungle fever Here’s an interesting one you might have missed: a 2008 study by the US census predicts that native whites (good one) will be a demographic minority by 2042. The study refers particularly to white people of Western European descent what you would call Native Americans if you don’t count any actual Native Americans. So if you’re fresh off the potato-boat from Krakow, you’re not quite white enough to make the team. Don’t be misled though: Caucasians will still make up the largest individual ethnic group in the country when compared to Black, Asian or Hispanic population. Whites only actually become a minority when you count all other groups together in one big murky mass of nonwhite people who are somehow different from that uniquely unique race of Western European Caucasoids. Like it’s them against us in some weird politically correct but sort of latently racist way. So America is turning all shades of brown and The Man knows it: considering that, it’s not a big leap to view the 2008 Obama nomination for the Democrats as a preliminary strategic move based primarily on demographic
projections. Since the passing of the Voting Right Act in 1965, the Democratic Party has been the primary stockholder in the voting capital that is non-white America. Their vote represents a huge demographic group that – up until ’65 – had largely been sitting idle on the sideline of the political game like an all-star forward ready to win it for the team – if only the coach would let him play. All it took was for the big wigs to realize the potential they had been ignoring and the game could begin. So the fact that Hawaiianborn Barack Obama II – raised mostly by good ol’ white folks – is currently the first black(-ish) president of the US has more to do with strategic political planning than any alleged ideals about multiculturalism or racial emancipation. Regardless of whether or not he is a good politician, as the son of a Kenyan chief and a white woman from a middle-class family he does not represent the typical domestic black community or its political emancipation. Put simply, Obama’s more Coming to America than he is Trading Places. So what does that mean for the near future? Well, for starters, the Republican party will hand next year’s election to Obama by the tried and tested tactic of exclusively providing candidates who are either void of charisma
or riddled with scandal and blunders. Obama will get four more years of economic recession for the GOP to complain about while they whip an ethnic opponent into shape to step into the ring come the next round. Who will that be, you say? I got 5-to-1 on Marco Rubio as Republican candidate in 2016. This young whippersnapper/ senator is just the ticket for a Republican party in need of change and diversity. Not to mention he has an anti-communist back-story that has ’TV drama’ written all over it: he was born to Cuban refugees (politically speaking the best kind of illegal immigrant in the kingdom of Capital). Rubio, also dubbed the ’prince of the Tea Party,’ made senator before the age 40 thanks to what looks like a surprisingly atypical case of affirmative action. Well, maybe not that surprising considering that Hispanics are the fastest growing group in the country. Whatever the case, as white people become an increasingly rare breed in the US, it will also become increasingly clear that the entire country is owned by a 10 percentminority. Because even as Mexicans take your seat in the Senate, there’s no denying that the core of the American power structure remains the same pasty white as the house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – even if it has a black janitor. (RVJ)
ˆ “ Tinnitus is a deeply affecting but relatively unknown condition that produces a constant ringing sound inside the head ”
Wired for sound The woman standing in the hallway of the audiology department of St. Pierre’s Hospital hears surprisingly well for someone with two white noise machines plugged into her ears. She does talk a little loudly, though, so everyone on the floor knows that there has been a mix up with her appointment and that she has been waiting since nine o’clock. She has to get to work. Bouncing on the balls of her feet, she waits outside the wood-paneled, low-ceilinged office that looks like a Swedish sauna. It’s full of testing equipment, and on the walls are graphics of the inside of the human ear. She sits at a table filled with small multicoloured hearing devices that look like a cross between James Bond spy equipment and Hello Kitty phone accessories. “This is my fourth month of treatment, I feel much better now,” she says, prompted by the tall, bespectacled audiologist Mr. Philippe Lurquin. “Madame Taillon had surgery to correct her deafness,” he says.
“After the surgery she got tinnitus because the surgeon hit a nerve.” Tinnitus is a deeply affecting but relatively unknown condition that produces a constant ringing sound inside the head. The patient saw a show on TV about the Tinnitus Rehabilitation Therapy team at St. Pierre’s and looked them up. “In order not to be conscious of a sound,” says Mr. Lurquin “it must be three things: neutral, continuous and known. When you drive your car, there is 100 Db of noise, but you don’t really hear it. Someone with tinnitus, this sub-cortical filter doesn’t work.” A technician, Mr. Lurquin customises white noise hearing devices for each patient, to mask the non-neutral sound. Audiologist Maud Real, a sweetfaced Frenchwoman, explains the condition and offers counseling, often to patients who have suffered for a long time before finding help. Some are deeply disturbed. “Tinnitus is like phantom limb sensation.” she explains. “With phantom limb sensation, you don’t have a hand, so you don’t have any sensation. But the brain compensates by creating one. It’s the same in tinnitus. If you have no auditive information at a certain level, let’s say 650 Hertz, your brain compensates by creating a
sound. The main goal is to put the tinnitus out of the consciousness.” But there is no quick fix. “It takes about three weeks to a month to get used to the sound of the white noise, depending on the emotional state of the patient. They might be anxious or angry. Some feel it’s not fair. They think, “Why me?” It’s a big relief for them to finally talk to someone who knows the condition.” The team are checking up on both Madame Taillon’s mental state and the condition of her white noise gadgets. She takes the small rose-pink devices from both ears. They are discreet, even pretty. “Yes,” says Mr. Lurquin sincerely, “they are beautiful.” Sitting on the table, the devices are silent, but hold them anywhere near your head and they emit the squeaky sound of TV static. Inside the ear, they are positively loud. “One patient told me it’s like frying a steak... it makes him want to eat.” says Ms. Real, and they laugh. All done, it’s time for Madame Taillon to leave. She puts the tiny devices back into her ears. “Voila, je suis branché,” she says, speaking over the constant static fed directly to her brain, and heads off to work. (RK)
ˆ “ Like the use of cigarettes in film noir – there is a mythology around cocaine. It helps to emphasise the fashionability of a story ”
© Raya Rayax
High Drama Like fake boobs, cocaine is no longer the exclusive territory of Beverly Hills and other A-list addresses. But movies will always have a special place in their heart for a sexy and outlandish cocaine hypothesis. Heroine, along with cocaine’s intensely neurotic half-sister crack, have the facial scabs and broken homes side of drugs-in-film covered. But cocaine is showbiz, sex and disco balls. It’s Jimi Hendrix soundtracks and hitting the “big time” while girls frolic in your pool. As recently as The Departed, Jack Nicholson, replete in smoking jacket, tossed a fistful into the air for his harem on an opera house balcony. Harems? Opera houses? Smoking jackets? This is far from the reality of plumbers and liberal arts students in Brussels toilets, hoovering ammonia-spiked chalk dust off grimy ceramic cisterns. It’s not quite the endless promise of party we get when we see lip-glossed Anne Hathaway and her sexy BFFs squashed into a Manhattan cubicle. But the fantasy is hard to dislodge. Ray Liota had us considering ditching our day jobs after watching his dream-like rise in Goodfellas. We watched True Romance through our fingers
when that guy exploded a ginormous bag of coke in front of a cop (flash car, prostitute check). Jared Leto looked slightly less than unflappable and a good deal short of glamorous (but certainly outlandish) as he mapped Ukraine in Lords of War with a huge pile of coke. Cocaine’s partner in crime is oodles of money, often accumulated in a sort-of inspirational rags to riches story (a favourite in the coke fantasy tableau), or wasted by posh New Yorkers sneezing away ten grand’s worth a la Annie Hall. Those who regularly decamp to the toilet and come back spouting rubbish may see themselves in the sexy, bare-foot Uma Thurman accidentally snorting heroine (I said God Damn!) in Pulp Fiction, or in the edgy spectacle of the Boogie Nights boys getting into a bag through a glass coffee table. Mark Walhberg, dishwasher turned porn star (rags, riches) plots life a mile a minute, a life that is certainly not without risk, but better than a boring old normal one. Bernardo Camisao, a Brussels based film maker, believes coke is often just a prop. “Like the use of cigarettes in film noir – there is a mythology around cocaine. It helps to emphasise the fashionability of a story. Whereas heroin is a drug with consequences, coke is recreational,
associated with the philosophy of the perfect image, beauty, wealth, and the stress of a high powered job, like the yuppies in American Psycho,” (“Can you keep it down, I’m trying to do drugs!”) or 99 francs (whose protagonist, a commercial ad man, gives some to hamsters). Before all that, the 1930s had Charlie Chaplin sprinkling coke on his food, giving him a ravenous appetite (obviously no room for cocaine in 1930s production budgets). Pandering to our illusion, most movies spend 90 minutes showing us how sexy cocaine is, and the final 10 minutes showing how sexy it isn’t (death, prison, shoot outs, sisters offering themselves to their brothers...) This cognitive dissonance is compounded when actors make cool movies about coke (yay!) and then get caught in grainy camera phone footage taking the real stuff at the after party (boo!). We all get a much-owed apology, and order is restored. (RK) Visit the wordmagazine.be/ dribbles/highdrama for a video edit of our favourite coke scenes.
ˆ “ Having a coffee at night in a deserted highway restaurant while looking out over the empty highway is just the same as staring at the sea. It is a kind of contemporary translation of dreaming away ”
© Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
Artist Hans Op de Beeck’s stark realities Although many artists describe themselves as ’multi media artists’, few deserve the tag as much as Brussels based Hans Op de Beeck. Op de Beeck – who enjoys critical and commercial success all over the world – is mainly known for his installations, but expresses himself through sculpture, drawings, paintings, video, photographs, short stories. For his video Sea of Tranquillity (2010) – presented as part of a multimedia installation shown in Argos last year – he even composed a jazzy theme song. When Op de Beeck tells us in his Anderlecht studio that he is currently working on a black and white animation movie that will also be part of an opera in Versailles, it doesn’t even come as a surprise anymore. Op de Beeck selects the medium in function of his message. He is not interested in making a political statement or telling a story, however, but wants to immerse the viewer in a specific mood. Location (5) (2004) for example,
is an accessible installation of a full-sized, nocturnal roadside restaurant with a view on an empty motorway. The entire atmosphere is dark and greyish, besides the orange halo of the highway’s light. The work captures a sense of melancholia though Op de Beeck is quick to emphasise that he is not a nostalgic. That is also the reason why he places his work in deliberate contemporary settings like shopping malls or cruise ships, while tackling universal and timeless themes: “Having a coffee at night in a deserted highway restaurant while looking out over the empty highway is just the same as staring at the sea. It is a kind of contemporary translation of dreaming away.” Op de Beeck’s installations are very realistically made, yet he does want to highlight their artificial nature by, for example, playing with scale and size (as with his long white festive board created in a scale of 1.5, making you feel like a six year old) or leaving out colours. His universe is subdued, often deliberately limited to white, black or grey. Extension (1) (2007) for example is an installation of an intensive care unit with a hospital bed, all in spotless white, while Extension (2) (2007) shows an office environment completely rendered in black. Both works deal with the way technology has become a body extension, the clinical colours emphasising the
pronounced sense of dehumanisation: “As I pay so much attention to detail, working with monochromic colours is a way to make the image more silent. You get a process of dematerialisation, as a kind of after image of phantom image.” This somewhat ghostly disposition is also the case in Location (6) (2008), a 300m2 installation. It is a kind of 3D panorama, an observatory of a vast and misty snow landscape where everything is so white you almost lose your sense of perception. The absence of colour is a pursued form of abstraction to reach a point zero. Leaving out colour can also be a way to emphasise what is underneath the surface, as in The Stewarts Have a Party (2006). In the video, a family is dressed for a party though the mood is rather more odd than festive. The fact that the entire setting lacks colour – even the balloons and cardboard party are in sterile white - contributes to the overall feeling of unease. The family members also behave like life-sized marionettes that are being manipulated by production assistants. It is a strong image, unmasking a fake sense of perfection, while revealing a feeling of emptiness and alienation the artist manages to perfectly capture. (SS) hansopdebeeck.com
ˆ “ There’s also the ‘intervention unit’. But those are the guys that smash through a window ; we’re the guys that open it ” ˇ
The press office of the Federal Police was clear: we could only interview him by phone. He would not give us his real name and photos were out of the question. I’d have to leave my number. “Someone” would call to arrange the interview. “Someone” called, early one morning a few days later, safely hidden behind a private number. His voice came down the line smooth and rich like amber. “I can’t do Tuesday or Wednesday,” wiping my suggestions off the table, “but I can do Thursday at four; in person if you want, at headquarters”. Negotiations had begun. Deep inside the maze of buildings that forms the headquarters of Belgium’s Federal Police force sits a squat two-story block that houses special ops. In a cramped office on the second floor, behind one of three cluttered desks and surrounded by phones and whiteboards with scribbled cryptic codes, sits Vincent, his muscular arms folded confidently behind his head. “Hostage negotiation is part of the ’observation unit’,” he begins. “There’s also the ’intervention unit’. But those are the guys that smash through a window; we’re the guys that open it,” he grins. To most, the murky world of hostage negotiators is best embodied by Denzel Washington in the film The Negotiator. Vincent too, is limited in what he can reveal. “There aren’t many hostage negotiators in Belgium,” telling me the number, albeit off the record. “But what you see in the film isn’t far from the truth. In a hostage situation, the negotiator always has a ’buddy’ that hears everything, scribbles down extra questions and helps make sure we don’t miss a thing. Then there’s the back-up team, of course.” How many people make up the team and what they do exactly, he can’t tell me. “This much is sure: negotiators aren’t cowboys that work outside the law. Everything is strictly agreed before we begin.” The things Vincent won’t (or can’t) tell me I manage to find out via other sources. The negotiation process, the techniques or the fact that there are two types of hostage situations: a “soft crisis situation” in which the perpetrator is alone, his relationship to the victim is personal and his state of mind emotional and impulsive, and the “hard situation” with multiple perpetrators whose behaviour is rational and calculated and whose relationship to the hostages is purely functional. Most of the hostage situations Vincent has worked on were ’soft’ ones. Situations that begin spontaneously and in which the most dangerous phase is the emotional beginning, during which impulsive violence is most likely to occur. “A husband
© Sarah Eechaut
The smooth operator
that suddenly holds a knife to his wife’s throat, for instance,” Vincent explains. “In such cases active listening skills can solve a lot. In essence, we take on the role of crisis counsellor.” Hard crisis situations are a completely different ballgame. Cases such as the kidnapping of Belgian politician Paul Vanden Boeynants by a criminal gang that demanded 30 million Belgian francs, for instance, “These situations are risky from beginning to end,” explains Vincent. “Here, perpetrators see victims purely as instruments to help them get exactly what they want. They play an ’all-or-nothing’ game.” “The most important factor in any negotiation, hard or soft, is the credibility of the negotiator,” says Vincent, fixing my gaze steadily. “Being caught telling a lie, no matter how small, can undermine the entire operation. That’s why we never promise something we can’t deliver.” “Ensuring the safety of the victim is our main priority,” he
stresses, and research has indeed shown that negotiations will lead to casualties in only one percent of cases, while hostage situations terminated by physical intervention will result in injury or death in 70 percent of all cases. But not all negotiations end well. “Unpredictable people, someone who has taken drugs for instance, are hardest to deal with. Like the guy we found sitting on a golf course at 5am with two guns to his head. We almost had him convinced to put down the guns, and then he said ’before I give you the guns, I just want to do one more line (of cocaine or speed)’. That’s when I knew: it’s all over. We ran for him, but we didn’t make it.” Silence spreads through the room to blanket his story. Finally, he shrugs. “We’re not therapists. Once we have defused the situation, we leave.” “It doesn’t always work out. And even if it does… We come back, we debrief and we move on. That’s how we can keep going.” (SC)
Frédéric Nicolay should really be crowned the unofficial mayor of Brussels. A self-effacing, self-starting oddball, he’s done more than anyone to give the city its distinctive edge: he’s reinvigorated entire neighbourhoods through his bars (Flagey with Belga, Albert with Bar du Matin and Porte de Hal/Halpoort with Potemkine), has launched what is probably its most aspirational beer (Vedett) and, more recently, has even taken to urban planning in the shape of his relooking of a public square. “I grew tired of seeing this dilapidated and derelict square in front of my offices,” he says when we meet one windy afternoon in the backstreets of the Dansaert/Dansaart area, “So approached the city, asking them for permission to spruce it up a little.” Taking matters in his own hand, the genial character planted 40 apple trees, installed reclaimed tree trunks (recuperated from an installation on Monts des Arts / De Kunstberg as public benches, nailed freight pallets to decrepit walls flanking the square’s front façade (a technique he first developed
© Sarah Eechaut
My little white screen
for Galerie Catherine Bastide, whose space is housed in Nicolay’s downtown office complex) and, most endearing of all, painted a white rectangle on the graffiti-riddled garage door in the hope of one day screening movies on it. The whole project took a couple of days – at most. “The entire works cost in between 7,000 and 8,000 euros,” he continues, rather astonishingly. Testament to a new generation
of self-empowered community leaders with an entrepreneurial streak, Nicolay is quick to downplay his achievement: “I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Anyone could do this. It’s a visual nod to the neighbourhood, but it doesn’t make any fundamental changes to it.” (NL)
French and Indian manufacturers who still practise the ancient craft of papermaking: every sheet is a one-of-a-kind piece characterised by its rich texture and unique streaks, shades and structures that an industrially-produced piece of paper lacks. What is more, Arnould also puts his passion into practice, creating small editions of lovely little notebooks bound and decorated by hand as well as publishing onepagers on single sheets of paper (usually, of the
wafer-thin Leman variety) which the buyer is free to fold and bind himself. A gallery, artist supply shop, artisan production facility, independent publishing imprint and antiquarian bookstore then. (SS)
Frédéric Nicolay is currently working on his latest project, Flammingo, a bar space opposite the KVS theatre in Brussels.
Stepping into Papers feels a little like delving into history: shelves crowded with ancient books, walls covered in vintage drawings and antiquated objects inhabit the attentively decorated space, located in a timeworn 18th century townhouse in Brussels’ Dansaert district. Imbued of an undeniable museum-like composure, a quick, first glance around the boutique, inaugurated in October 2009 with an exhibition by French illustrator Pierre Le-Tan, makes it instantly obvious that a true paper passionate is at work here. “Paper is more than just a commodity,” owner Jean-Philippe Arnould says to explain his fascination: “By being used as a device for creating art and diffusing ideas it preserves the ensemble of European artistic works of the last 500 years.” Having worked for the Louvre, Stockholm’s French embassy or the Institut Français in Munich, Parisian Arnould is a veritable culture vulture and no novice to the art world (he has a special interest in early fashion drawings, with an impressive selection of works by influential fashion illustrators such as Georges Lepape). That being said, Papers is more than just a place favoured by art collectors. Indeed, illustrators and painters value it for its handmade sheets of paper imported from
© Pauline Miko
Papers Rue de Flandre 19 Vlaamsesteenweg 1000 Brussels papers-gallery.com
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5. November — December
The institution Society Heritage
Gilbert Elseneer (one-time trainer to King Baudouin I) and his son Gilles – a former world top 100 player – pose on The Royal Tennis Club of Belgium’s central court together with vintage wooden rackets, some of which were gifts from some of the sport’s most legendary names.
The Royal Tennis Club of Belgium Tucked into an inlet only two minutes from Place Stephanie / Stefanieplein, Gilbert Elseneer and his wife, have, for 33 years now, cherished an unsuspected 1950s architectural wonder dedicated to the game of tennis. Writer and photographer Jacques Moyersoen
Ever since its inauguration back in 1955, the Royal Tennis Club of Belgium has lovingly been kept in the same pristine condition. The three indoor tennis courts’ surface is still covered with the same sheets of special Swedish vinyl made by a company which went bankrupt dozens of years ago. “That shows how indestructible their product is! The longevity and smoothness are amazing. The surface is almost 60 years and is still impeccable! And best of all it’s easy on the body as well. This surface is unique in Belgium,” the visibly proud owner extols. Equally as unique are the beautiful giant curved wooden arcades that carry the 13 meter high roof. “This club was the first large indoor tennis venue in Belgium. It is also the only indoor club in Belgium whose size is up to standard
with the international official measures.” With the central court enjoying a capacity of 1,000 spectators, this little club has, rather astonishingly, been the theatre of major tennis events, such as the Davis Cup and the Belgian indoor championship for over 20 years now. The dedicated press area is still there to remind us of the club’s hey-days. “Almost every tennis legend has exchanged forehands under the mythical central court: McEnroe, Edberg, Agassi, Lendl,… and the list goes on. And to witness these glorious talents from the comfort of the presidential lodge, you could spot illustrious tennis fans such as King Leopold III, Baudouin I, and prestigious families such as the Solvay. The only two legends which haven’t played here are Sampras and Borg,” Elseneer concedes.
The Royal Tennis Club of Belgium was built in 1954 – along five storey’s of parking spaces below it – by “La Compagnie Immobilière du Congrès,” which belonged to “La Banque de Bruxelles” (later known as BBL and now taken over by ING), under the impulse of the count Jean-Pierre de Launoit and the expertise of Philippe Washer, one of Belgium’s best tennis players at the time. The later wanted a classy winter club which had the same feeling as if you were at Wimbledon. To that end, much of the English venerable club’s style and philosophy were replicated. The courts’ only colour is green, and there is no advertising to be seen, except for the logo of the club’s now obsolete sponsor, “Donnay.” The superb lacquered wood and copper
tennis poles were brought in directly from Wimbledon’s dead stock. The dressing room’s lockers are inch-exact replicas of those found in the vicinity of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. And as an ultimate tribute to the sports tradition, all club members’ on court attire is required to be a minimum of 80 percent white.
ˆ All club members’ on court attire is required to be a minimum of 80 percent white ˇ The sense of being in a “club” in its most traditional of English meaning is emphasiSed not only by the home-like feel of the bar, lounge, and hand-painted dining room – which all have birds-eye views on the courts – but most importantly by the warmth and kindness of the ever-present Elseneer family. “When we took over the club in 1978 it was basically losing money. There were three secretaries, two locker room concierges, several cooks, a butler, a barman, and two waiters. The fixed costs were astronomical.” Today, apart from an external cook, they run the club entirely by themselves and live in a flat right above it. Gilbert’s many jobs range from handling the managerial aspect of the club and dispensing tennis lessons to his life-long clients to cording rackets in his little in-house shop with utmost attention. His wife on the other hand manages the administration and catering. “It is the only way to make the club financially viable. We don’t get paid for our managerial and administrative activities, our salary comes exclusively from my tennis lessons and my wife’s employee status. The benefits from the club are directly invested in maintaining it in its pristine vintage state. We’re not rich, but we’re not losing money either,” he concludes. Indeed, there is little doubt that money is only secondary to Elseneer’s passion for the game of tennis and his club, considering he is virtually sitting on golden eggs that are only waiting to be latched. Every year he receives mind-boggling offers from investors and promoters to buy-out the highly coveted acres the club is sitting on. And every year the offers climb. He is well aware that instead of renting three huge tennis court’s for 10€/hour a piece, they could easily be replaced by hundreds of parking spaces that would rack up the cash pile. But for Gilbert, it is a different story. The club is his life and he loves it dearly. He sees
the place as a high-quality working tool in the center of Brussels. A place where he can live to its fullest his unwavering passion for tennis and lead a happy life. There are some things that money cannot buy. And Gilbert, even though he could be a millionaire, is as happy as a man can be. There is however, a hint of nostalgia when Gilbert speaks of the club’s glory days. It is true that not many champions can be spotted running on the courts anymore, nor are any important tournaments hosted here. But these let-downs are the inevitable side effects of the rapid professionalisation that tennis has undergone in the last 30 years. The Royal Tennis Club of Belgium was built at a time when the country’s best players were in fact amateurs, the tournaments prize-money small and sponsorships a barely heard-of concept. While it also used to be the winter club of choice for many members of the very select Royal Leopold Club and many other outdoor
tennis clubs, the invention and popularisation of the pressurised bubble also rendered obsolete the need for an indoor-only club. That is, the era, when most clients were regulars and the club part of their social life, has given way to a more motley fauna composed of locals and expats which don’t hang around too long after their three sets. But the relative decay of the club compared to its prestigious past does not curb its owner’s enthusiasm for it by an inch. Even in the most extreme weather, the pristine courts stay dry, and the air pure and healthy. And there’s also this atmosphere kneaded with tradition and elegance that today can only be found in classy golf clubs. And when he’ll retire, Gilbert (who is now 74 years-old), knows he can count on his son, Gilles, a former tennis world champion turned professional trainer, to maintain the club’s magic and unique soul. tennisclubdebelgique.be
The Word on Art People Rise and shine
Facing the blank canvas Calling yourself an artist, musician or writer is all well and fine whilst the brush strokes, music notes and words flow abundantly, but what really defines a true creative from the impostor is his ability to face – and embrace – a white sheet of paper in the knowledge that, at some point during the day, that eureka moment will come. Photographer Sarah Eechaut
Matthew Crasner, 30 Brussels-based artist currently working on a new series of paintings for an upcoming book.
“I don’t think I have a fear of the blank canvas but I do sometimes find it hard to start a new piece of work because when the canvas is blank it could become anything. A blank canvas is imbued with so much potential and there’s always the danger of failure, you have to have the confidence to move forward, work through any problems and remember if it all goes wrong, there’s always more canvas. If I’m blocked then I avoid the canvas or turn it round to face the wall while i work on
something else until I’m ready to start painting. The challenge then is if it doesn’t go the way you want or it doesn’t look right do you stick with it and work though the problem or start again.” matthewcrasner.com
Rinus Van de Velde, 28 Artist currently working on a new series of drawings set to be exhibited in the group show ’Der Reiz der belanglosen Geschichte’ at Galerie Zink in Berlin.
“(I don’t have a fear of the blank canvas). I don’t start from pure imagination, but work with existing or self-made photos as a source material. My work forms an ongoing story in which there isn’t a real starting point; every drawing more or less follows the previous ones. In a way you could say I am obsessed with the idea of finding good and appropriate images. I just keep on looking for images and think about how the story should develop.
I am mostly completely frozen just after I have finished a drawing. Then I sit in front of it for hours and hours, staring and not touching, figuring out whether it’s a good drawing or not. I do think the hours between 3 and 5pm are the most difficult ones. I just want them to be over really quickly.” galeriezink.de timvanlaeregallery.com
The Word on
Manor Grunewald, 26 Ghent-based artist currently working on a large oil painting for a group show at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam, his upcoming solo show at Galerie Fortlaan 17 as well as his new book, coming out in February 2012.
“(I don’t fear the blank canvas at all). I have learned to treat the canvas like a piece of paper. When you make a silly drawing on paper and it isn’t good at all you just throw it away or try to make something out of it. I work on different paintings at one time, it’s better to reflect and see how things work and get influenced by each other. If something doesn’t work out, I just paint it over or test something further on the image. In this way the relationship between you as a painter and the images is totally different when you would work on one canvas at a time.” manorgrunewald.com
Vadim Vosters, 32 Artist currently working on a painting for the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam, a light installation for De Markten in Brussels and a performance video for an installation in Ukraine.
“When I am unable to start working, I tend to go for a walk (mostly in the nightime), I take a book and read, reorganise my studio or take up older works. The canvas remains blank for a while, but even then I give it a push. Even if it’s not completely good, I paint the entire canvas until it has a first layer of paint over which I can paint the day after. Then at least I have an image that I can criticise. Worrying about a blank canvas or painting is useless. It is not the moment one stands before a new canvas that I start thinking about what to paint; when I order the canvas I already know what to do with it. There are some canvasses that I have been working on for years now, I paint over them, or they are waiting for the ’moment of genius’ to get things right. ” vadimvosters.be
Lucas Devriendt, 66 Visual artist currently working on a portrait of a blank canvas on the wall of his former studio.
“I fear the blank canvas because it’s about being faced with my existence and the infinity of a white canvas works like a black hole or a black mirror. Staring at a canvas can seem like an eternity. This eternity can be a second, or a day, a week, but you are not aware of it. There is no
notion of time. But once the staring has begun it’s a part of my life, like taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, beginning the painting.” facebook.com/lucas.devriendt galerievandeweghe.be
The other Word on Heritage Nostalgia Retail
White coats Wearing white coats on the shop floor used to be standard practice for most retail outfits. Back then, the rule was simple you see: if you dealt with customers directly, you were expected to suit up. Presentation is half the battle won right? Here, we visit four professions who still insist on donning a white apron during working hours. Photographer Veerle Frissen
The oldest bakery in Ghent (its stone ovens have been firing it up ever since the 17th Century), Himschoot still bakes its bread itself down in its basement. All its employees wear white aprons for hygiene reasons.
A father and son business, Walschot specialises in â€™mandjeskaasâ€™ cheese, a regional produce protected by the EU. The father takes care of preparing the cheese, whilst the son looks after deliveries, accounts and so forth. They both wear white for hygiene and functionality.
A family-owned business for over 100 years now, poulterers Diegenant is a husband-andwife affair, with Mr Diegenant in charge of prepping the meat whilst Mrs Diegenant attends to the shop. The couple, both in their 60s, wear white for hygiene and because the colour is easily recognisable to their customers.
Pharmacist Ann Seye wears a white coat for hygiene, but also because she believes it gives her a certain credibility and authority. The white coat says people can trust her expertise and knowledge.
The collection Nostalgia People
Snowballs Holidays. Some bring t-shirts back from them. Others return home with specialty foods or even extinguished animal species. Marie-Thérèse prefers to box her getaway memories in these snowballs. All 250 of them. Photographer Pauline M iko
The business Society Industry People
Seeing right through you With the turmoil besieging boardrooms, governments and stocks markets the world over showing no sign of abating, calls for greater transparency increase exponentially with every new sordid revelation of phone-hacking, corruption-busting, bribe-taking and whatnot. Here, we speak to four local heroes about their work in making society a more accountable, and responsible one. Photographer Sarah Eechaut, with interviews by Rose Kelleher
The campaigner: Chantal Hebette Chair of Transparency International, Belgium
It’s much easier to raise funds for cancer. Corruption seems a little bit abstract and theoretical. How do you represent it? You could show people passing money under the table, or have a picture of a man with a white collar. Many people think that this is a problem for developing countries, like in Africa (or perhaps for Greece), but not for us. When you want to call the police to report a corruption case, there is no specific number, you get connected to an operator saying “I will try to transfer you” and you’re lucky if there is someone on the other end of the line. It’s not at all user
friendly. People prefer to do nothing when they are afraid, when they have no confidence in the people in charge. There is a lot of soft corruption. The people may not be corrupt but they’re not shocked by evident conflicts of interests, and though the trend is decreasing, it’s still a type of sport in Belgium to not pay what you are supposed to pay.
The law enforcer: Johan Denolf Director of the department for Economics and Financial Crime Division (DJF) of the Belgian Federal Police
In normal fraud, you have an author and a victim. A guy wants to marry a Filipino girl he finds on the internet. He is asked for 500 euro for a flight, but the Filipino girl is only 20 and her mother will need to come as well, so they need another 500 euro. He goes to the airport with flowers to wait for his future bride, who never turns up. That’s normal fraud, the local police would deal with that. If there were several similar cases, we would make the link, through collaboration with institutions like Interpol. But corruption is different. It’s fraud committed
by two parties who both have an interest in keeping silent. The one who is bribing and the one who is accepting are both part of the scheme. The biggest challenge is to follow the money. And to actually get things not only seized, but also brought back to the Belgian government. Sometimes we’re too late and the money is already gone. It happens.
The lawyer: Francois Vinke Member of the Brussels Bar and Chair of Anti Corruption Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce
Recently, after the wedding of a nephew, I went with my family to a restaurant. The bill comes and the lady says “I didn’t split the bill – I have only one VAT receipt.” And I said “I don’t need it” and she looked at me and said, “Why don’t you need it?” I know very well that there is not a trace of professional deductibility. Everywhere there is this “Everybody does it,” – so if everybody does it, and I’m not doing it, I will look stupid, or, “The laws are conceived in this way that it is assumed that everyone will deduct… and
so on.” Corruption is everywhere. It is wrong to think that white collar crime is related to a religion or culture, industrial sector, or social origin. Corporate ethics and compliance. What does it really mean? It’s important not just to have lists of rules; but to create a cultural attitude of ethics. I am convinced that law is not only a list of small goals which say he’s right or she’s wrong… “ubi societas ibi ius”.
The journalist: David Leloup Freelance investigative reporter
I like to find the truth, to dig beneath the surface. I studied cognitive psychology at university, and worked for two years as a researcher. The job is basically the same. In investigative journalism, you also work by hypothesis, and you try to prove it wrong. Sometimes the lead is not provided, so you need to do a lot of preliminary research to see if your hypothesis has a chance. Each time I expose misconducts by someone, I call them and give them the opportunity to express their point of view and to challenge my perception. But sometimes questions are often
just forwarded to the press department which give me a ready-made answer. IÂ think people would care more if the Belgian press exposed more cases of corruption, but they donâ€™t. Iâ€™m not an activist, I am just trying to improve democracy and democratic principles. But my work might encourage activists to build up that momentum.
People Talent Industry
Damir Doma’s quest for meaning Damir Doma’s rise in the fashion sphere has taken him from Croatia and Germany to Antwerp and now Paris, where he is about to open up his first boutique. We sit down with the 30 year old fashion designer to talk production issues, being an introvert in Antwerp and choosing white for his latest collection. Writer Philippe Pourhashemi
In a noisy world governed by pressure and speed, Damir Doma’s clothes offer a welcome respite from the highly cyclical fashion world. His garments whisper -rather than shout- inviting us to take a step back and reflect upon fashion. The Croatian-born, Paris-based designer, showed his first collection in June 2007, gaining serious interest from key retailers and influential press. With a focus on draping, soft shapes and generous volumes, he pushed menswear into a new territory, moving away from Hedi Slimane’s razor-sharp silhouette at Dior Homme towards something more abstract and less angular. He also put an emphasis on craft, giving his pieces a tactile and intricate dimension. He’s part of a generation that rejects sensationalism and style fads, looking for long-term commitments
instead of short-term gains. In Doma’s work as a designer, there is no space for vulgarity. He may only be 30, Doma already has quite a large business to run, including menswear and womenswear collections – shown in Paris twice a year - shoes, bags, accessories, and a diffusion line called “Silent”. Working on several projects simultaneously, the designer seems particularly excited at the prospect of opening his own store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, a few steps from the Comme des Garçons boutique. He plans to unveil the new space during menswear fashion week next January. Despite an amazing career path – which would make many of his peers green with envy – Damir Doma does not cultivate his ego as much as other designers do. He comes across
as an articulate and fairly introspective man, aiming at something more meaningful than the next fashion high. He is deeply analytical and critical, but you can feel his vulnerable side, too. He happens to have a special relationship with Belgium, where he got to learn about his own boundaries, role and identity “I lived in Antwerp for a while, working with Raf Simons and Dirk Schönberger. It was a bit of a soulsearching time for me,” he explains. “I didn’t know anything about the city when I arrived. I didn’t know anyone either and was still in my early 20s. I found myself on my own for the first time and was wondering who I was and what I really wanted from life. I guess it was an existential thing. Even though I felt lonely at times, it encouraged me to find some answers. This
process helped me create my own foundation in terms of design and direction.” There’s a sense that Doma wants to protect himself, hiding his sensitivity under cosy layers. His clothes are like an embrace from an old friend, giving you comfort, warmth and happiness.
ˆ I chose white, because it felt like a new beginning. It was like holding a blank piece of paper in my hand, something very pure and untouched ˇ During his last womenswear show back in September, Doma decided to open with a series of stunning white outfits, giving a clean and fresh start to his collection: “I chose white, because it felt like a new beginning. It was like holding a blank piece of paper in my hand, something very pure and untouched. White stands for spirituality, which is important in my work. I wanted to bring much more sensuality and femininity into the collection. People often acknowledge me as a menswear designer, but I feel the message within my womenswear shows has become clearer and sharper each year. I’ve had to learn the design language to express what I wanted to say.” There’s an organic feel to his clothes, which refer to natural elements in a subtle way. Shades of stone, plaster, marble and sand can be found in his shows, as well as occasional dashes of strong colour. In many ways, Damir Doma’s aesthetic refers to the early 80s and the infamous Japanese wave, when designers like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo changed the face of Western fashion. Doma’s forte is finding the right balance between all these elements and keeping in mind the needs of his clients “As a designer, I have to keep on pushing myself while remaining true to my essence. Another thing I realised working with Belgian designers is that you always have to place clothes within a much broader context. It’s totally different from – let’s say – the way Italian designers work. Italian fashion is much more about creating a certain look than addressing the reasons why it should exist. I think the Belgians gave depth and meaning to the fashion world, which was surely lacking when their careers took off. Still, one should never forget that fashion is not art. It’s just that the creative process getting you to a collection can be quite similar to what is experienced by an artist when he or she tries to come up with a new piece.”
Needless to say, fashion stardom comes with its fair amount of strain. And, even though Doma is clearly not the excessive type prone to give in to life’s every indulgence, he still has to deal with the pace of the industry and the stress it creates, “People always emphasise the shows, but the most important thing for me is how you get there. That’s the fascinating part. There’s more and more to be done at the company each year. I get more help now, but I also have to be able to delegate, which is not as simple as people imagine it to be. I guess it’s a challenge right now. I still draw everything myself and am not at that point where I feel I don’t need to have that level of control. It’s different with menswear, because I’m getting more and more to this point. With the womenswear line, I’m not there yet.” There’s something touching about Doma’s humility and his willingness to be sincere, not pretending to be something he clearly isn’t. You get to sense the person behind the brand, echoing the way his models look on the catwalk, appearing more like individuals than soulless clothes hangers. Despite growing up as a kid amongst patterns and samples within his mother’s atelier – and being backed by Paper Rain, a powerful and international fashion group – he wants to take the time to evolve, leaving enough room for experimentation and research “I turned 30 this year and didn’t feel any difference. I guess each one of us has milestones in life. There’s always this idea that certain things have to be done by a certain age. I don’t know if this applies to how I live my life. I guess my work is not just about creating collections, but also finding a language that can be understood globally. I’m aware that finding this is challenging and goes quite deep, but I’m very excited about it. I feel so grateful I even get the chance to do it. Not many people do.”
Every designer has to make tough decisions, from the complete beginner to the confirmed talent, which is something Damir Doma is more than aware of. “When we started with the menswear, we used to have our production in Belgium, but ended up switching to Italian manufacturers. Belgian companies were very strong when it came to producing women’s clothes, but finding strong partners for menswear was much more complicated. There were also issues with pricing and quality. We got a better package in Italy. The whole production was moved there eventually, apart from Silent, which is mainly made in Portugal.” Besides some unavoidable commercial demands, it’s obvious that Damir Doma loves his work. In fact, he takes fashion more seriously than most of us do: “For me, fashion is always a very direct reflection of the times we’re going through. That’s why people should never underestimate it. It’s a confusing period in general, not just in fashion.” He seems to find satisfaction in dealing with several tasks at the same time, rejecting the notion that a single focus is necessarily more efficient “People always seem to worry that working on different things simultaneously decreases your creativity, but this is not something I agree with. I tend to be the opposite as I’m quite comfortable going from one project to another. If you’re a designer working on just one collection, you get this huge sense of loss after your show and there’s nothing else to hang on to. Coming back after that tends to be much harder. This is a very good moment for me. You just need to take a few days off when your body tells you to.” damirdoma.com Visit thewordmagazine.be/radar/damirdomas for a slideshow of Damir’s latest collection.
© Pauline Miko
Retail Heritage Vintage Consume
The king of clean Eddy Beaurain has been fighting dirt for more than 30 years. Pressing n° 1, the dry cleaning business he set up in 1979, is a trustworthy address, enviably located on Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat, Brussels’ fashion epicentre. A former civil servant, Beaurain got bored with red tape, office hours and paperwork. He wanted to be in touch with people and thought dry cleaning could do the trick. “When I was a kid, I lived in the neighbourhood and my parents used to bring their clothes here. They were sent elsewhere for cleaning and they’d come back to collect them after a few days. When I took over from the previous owner, I set up a workshop at the back, allowing us to do everything on the spot. We got regular business fairly quickly, enabling me to hire more staff.” There’s something real and charismatic about Beaurain. Besides his affable manner and openness, he comes across as a sincere and hard-working guy. The fact that he’s been on Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat for so long gives him a unique insight into the life of the street “It changed so much here,” he explains. “I’m 57 now and remember how it was. There were mainly craftsmen. Some were making watches, others were running small ateliers for leather goods
and crocodile bracelets. Stijl was one of the first designer boutiques to open in 1984. Sonja Noël (owner of Stijl and Halelujah) is still a client of mine. Theatre companies – such as La Monnaie / De Munt – began working with me, too. I’ve always dealt with creative people and they are very loyal clients.” Never defeated when it comes to stains, he rarely refuses to clean clothes. He doesn’t seem to object to the obsessive habits of some of his clients either
ˆ I always find solutions when it comes to dirt. In dry-cleaning, milk and biro are the biggest challenges ˇ “I always find solutions when it comes to dirt. In dry-cleaning, milk and biro are the biggest challenges. Some folks complain constantly, but they keep on coming back. Others bring things that don’t even need cleaned. We have a guy who drops a bag of white underwear every week. It’s always the same brand and the same amount of briefs. Another elderly man has one black shirt he gets cleaned on a
regular basis. The week after, he comes back with the same shirt and a silk white tie. It’s like a ritual and has been going on for years. When the shirt starts falling apart, he has the same one made at a tailor’s he knows.” As clothing deals with privacy and intimacy, clients start opening up after a while, becoming friends with Beaurain and his staff. “People will talk about personal matters behind the counter. They feel we can be trusted and that we listen to them. Clients become friends after a while.” Beaurain has touching stories about some of them, “I became friendly with this guy who came in every Saturday. He was a joyful person and we had great chats. Then he disappeared for six months and I wondered where he was. One day, I got a call from him, telling me he was at Saint-Jean / Sint-Jan clinic and really ill. He wanted to see me the next day and I went there. We never talked about his illness, but I think it was AIDS. Although it hurt to see him weak and diminished, I had to be there for him. He died a few days after my visit.” Ironically, Beaurain was approached by a fashion brand three years ago and has finally decided to sell his shop. He will close in December this year, starting a new chapter in his life. The stains may be long gone, but Beaurain’s indelible stain on the neighbourhood won’t be washed away any time soon. (Farewell Eddy. Brussels’ fashion strip won’t be the same without you.) (PP) Visit thewordmagazine.be/wonders/kingofclean for a full gallery of Pressing N°1’s downtown shop.
The look Heritage Design
Rue Blanche To most, Rue Blanche is known as a purveyor of softness for everyday women – not too loud, but not too quiet either. To fashion insiders though, the Brussels-based brand is better known for its twice-yearly catalogue. We zoom in on the 25-year-old look book, digging deep into its archive to discover that pretty much the entire cream of the crop of Belgian fashion and graphic design has, at some point or the other, had a hand in its making. Photographer Pauline Miko
Spring / Summer 1990, shot by François Matthys
Autumn / Winter 1998, featuring a fresh-faced Anne-Catherine Lacroix
Spring / Summer 2003, shot by Andrea Lennon
Spring / Summer 1998, shot by Andrea Lennon
Spring / Summer 1998, shot by Serge Leblon
Spring / Summer 2005, with art direction and design by Flore Van Ryn
Spring / Summer 1998, shot by Serge Leblon with art direction and design by Base
Fashion Beauty Footwear Consume
What we’ve got in store for you Covering our bases – our speciality here at Word HQ. And, true to form, we’ve left no stones unturned in our search for consumerist nirvana in the run up to the festive season shopping spree, with close to every industry of interest to us represented in one shape or form. Beauty? Check. Bags? Check. Clothes for him and for her? Check. Jewellery? Check. Stationary? Check? See, we got it all covered.
01. Cotton candy
New Delhi-based Rajasthani fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh’s collections sit somewhere in between historical reference and modern relevance. Enjoying close relationships with traditional Indian mills, what makes Pratap’s creations unique is the way he balances textile experimentation (he’s big on cotton and weaves it to magnificent effect) with restrained good taste. He’s daring, even grand at times, but in a subtle manner. Take this 100 percent organic cotton shirt handmade in India. It’s fun, liberating and exhilarating but in an understated way. The kind of shirt that’ll get you noticed for its details. (NL) Rajesh Pratap Singh’s handmade organic cotton shirt (¤ 250,00). Available from Haleluja (Brussels). pratap.ws
02. Body building
If jetting off to sunnier shores is not always an option, that doesn’t mean your skin doesn’t deserve the same amount of pampering it usually does. And, with its unique blend of ingredients including HEPES – a sci-fi sounding buffering agent – Lancome’s Nutrix Royal Body Butter comes second to none when moisturising your skin has become as necessary to your well-being as drinking your litre of water a day. The cream is soothing and its repairing effects are instantly visible – making it all the more worthwhile. (PP) Lancôme Nutrix Royal Body Butter 200ml (¤ 41,67). Available nationwide at Ici Paris XL and Planet Parfum. lancome.com
03. Pack it in
Count on Louis Vuitton to continuously reinvent itself. With Marc Jacobs at the helm of the prestigious house, Vuitton bags have become objects of intense desire. Each season, the American designer comes up with new ways to revisit the ubiquitous monogram. With the Damier Infini line and its strong menswear shapes, the emphasis is on style and functionality rather than branding. White can be tacky, but the soft calf leather and chequered detail make this duffel bag the perfect travel companion. Just don’t let the missus get her hands on it. (PP) Louis Vuitton Duffel Bag (¤ 1,700). Available from Louis Vuitton (Brussels and Antwerp). louisvuitton.com
04. It’s a bird, it’s a plane? No, it’s a pen
Mixing high and low has always been one of Maison Martin Margiela’s signature contributions to the fashion world. Their Ligne 13 – dedicated to objects and publications - has a poetic and timeless feel to it, one which escapes seasonal constraints to focus instead on surrealistic items which are given the MMM cachet. It references the past, yes, but without taking itself too seriously. Like its ostrich feather pen. It’s slightly on the outlandish side, and elicits the odd incredulous look or two at first. Then it suddenly reminds you you haven’t received a handwritten letter in yonks, and then and there an ostrich-feathered pen might just be the thing you need to get you to put pen to paper again. (PP) Maison Martin Margiela Ostrich Feather Ball Point Pen (¤ 45). Available from Maison Martin Margiela (Brussels). maisonmartinmargiela.com
05. Knit hits
Chauncey needs no introduction to these pages, their cashmere and knitwear collections having won our hearts and minds over a long time ago. And the hits just keep on coming from the Brussels-based French couple, this time in the shape of its longsleeved cables knitted jumper full of details. There’s the chunky twisted knitted patterns that lace the entire jumper, the body-perfect straight fit as well as the small V neck detail at the centre of the ribbed collar (on the men’s version only). Made in Mongolia, home to the finest cashmere in the world, don’t be surprised if this revisited classic becomes a regular on your winter clothes rack. (NL) Chauncey white crew neck (¤ 329). Available from chaunceystore.com
06. Cookie crumble
We’re still at the cute and cuddly phase when it comes to jewellery. Put it this way, we like the ostentatious and outlandish, yes, but what really gets us going is the feeling left by a piece, its emotional appeal if you will. And, with its white collection, Ghent-based design practice Soki hits all the right spots. Made up of six different designs (marble, bean, house, print, stamp and, our favourite, cookie), the collection includes rings, earrings and pendants and softly navigates the intricacies of jewellery-making through its unpretentious approach and sweet-touched delivery. The kind of necklace you’d all too willingly take a bite out of. (NL) Soki Off White collection (From ¤ 20 to ¤ 80). Available from Rewind (Ghent) and Beyond Fashion (Antwerp). soki.be
07. Super furry animals
It doesn’t get more seasonal than wearing goatskin on your feet. Mou footwear has just recently landed on our Belgian shores this season, bringing some much-needed London cool to our dreary streets. Using natural leathers and fibres – as well as long-lasting soles and finishing – these cosy boots are ideal for skiing holidays (not too sporty, not too flashy – just right) as well a grisly citybound weekends (they’re sturdy enough to deal with cobblestones and the odd pothole or two). Truth is, they’re so furry and soft you might even end up cuddling up to them as you do your teddy. We promise we won’t tell anyone. (PP) Mou goatskin cowboy boots 33cm (¤ 369). Available from Down Town (Ghent) and Juliette Verlaine (Liège / Luik). mou-online.com
Go to page 96 for full stockist information.
The nod Play People Heritage
The school of white socks
Taking our fascination with social style statements to new heights (well, lows really), we zoom in on one of our all-time favourite fashion faux pas: white socks. And we’re not talking the knee-high type recently made popular again by a certain skateboarding black goblin – although there’s a bit of that too. No, no, no. We’re talking white socks and Adidas track pants. White socks with open top Diadora flip-flops. White socks with a black suit and a black pair of shoes. Classic. Photographer Ulrike Biets
The fashion Word Fashion Consume Photography
Runaway bride Unsure and unsettled, the bride to be makes a last ditched attempt at freedom, escaping a life of guaranteed sorrow and setbacks for brighter pastures. And, with the maid of honour by her side, she might just have found her rebound. Photographer Sébastien Bonin
Fur coat Dries Van Noten, Vest Maison Martin Margiela, Hat Maison Michel
Left: Top Ingrid Vlasov, Skirt John Galliano, Veil Christophe Coppens, Glasses Prada, Boots Haider Ackermann Right: Wool dress Haider Ackermann, Hat Elvis Pompilio, Glasses Bijules, White gold and pearl brooch Wouters & Hendrix, Sneakers D&G
Jacket Dolce & Gabbana, White gold earrings Wouters & Hendrix, Earpiece Bijules
Cotton blouse Nicolas Andreas Taralis, Silk bra Carine Gilson, Silver brooch Mouton Collet
Tweed dress Chanel, Bomber jacket Dolce & Gabbana
The fashion Word
Left: Dress Ingrid Vlasov, Briefs Carine Gilson, Bracelet Pamela Love, Skirt D&G (worn as headpiece) Right: Coat Jean Paul Knott, Headpiece Walter Lecompte, Ring Bijules
Photographer Sébastien Bonin Photographer’s assistant Ludo Anton Hair & make up Inge De Vos Models Anne-Roos @ modelsbykeen &
Femke @ Dominiquemodels With thanks to Pauline Miko
Go to page 96 for full stockist information.
Left: Cardigan Indress, Dress Agnes B, Short angora dress Rochas, Stole Undercover, Bag Marni, Sandals Converse Right: Top, jacket and skirt Marni, Tights Wolford, Bag Issey Miyake, Headpiece Christophe Coppens
The columns Talent Rise and shine
White Russia’s debut LP, O Jerusalem, is as haunting and spooky as it is compelling. The band, a two-piece from South London, navigates through a range of genres to create rich layers of sonic reverberations that hit you out of nowhere. Singer/songwriter Marina Elderton’s piercing voice and rebel-rousing lyrics, combined with producer Benjamin Bufton’s powerful, knock-out style productions make for a fresh and revolutionary sound. We caught up with Marina for a quick Skype link up to talk apathetic bands and wanting to be Axl Rose. Interview Nicholas Lewis
Hi there, where are you right now? I am in Kingston, London, meeting up with Lee Mangan, who’s our video director, and we’re trying to sort out the cover for the album, which is basically going to be stills from our videos. Have you guys started doing a lot of promos and performing live shows for the new album? Yeah we basically started doing gigs about May last year for it, mainly around Hoxton in London and in 93 Feet East. Its been really great actually because its given me an opportunity to play some places that I’ve always wanted to play you know, and it’s nice having something which you feel will make some statement of some kind, make more of an impact than just some kind of apathetic band that can’t even be bothered to make an effort. There are quite a few of them around. When and where was the album recorded? We recorded it from about 2008 to 2010 in Ben’s studio, in his house in London. What was the vibe during the recording sessions? It was cool. The way it started was with one song really, Charmless State. I’d been playing music for a while and knew of Ben because I’d met him through friends. I recorded an acoustic demo of the song and Ben heard it and, you know, liked it and so I came in to his studio and I just put down my acoustic version just using guitar, then I sung over it, and then he just built it up. He had a very strong vision which was that he wanted it to be dark and industrial. For me it involved a lot of trust in a way because I was always quite suspicious of things that were too programmed but he played it back to me and I was blown away and it kind of went from there basically. When did you actually start calling yourself White Russia? Well at that point we never actually said ‘OK we’re in a band, this is what it is’, it was more of an intrigue about this song, and then it was quite a natural process. There was one point when we probably had three songs and we were like ‘OK, what it this?’ Then we sat down early 2009 and called it White Russia and decided to do a whole album. Why White Russia? I was looking at a really old, beautiful map and was scanning the east European section and saw ’White Russia’ written on the map and I was so surprised that I’d never seen it before. It just seemed to go with the music really, that was it. A lot of your songs and lyrics, and even your track names, are quite powerful. They could
sometimes be seen as a call to arms to a generation of jilted people. Yeah, I know what you mean. And I don’t want it to be coming across as a patronising preacher going around saying ‘oh you all got it wrong,’ but for me, music is the most powerful platform in the sense that it is the only form of art that is completely intangible, its not physical, people receive it in the air, yet it has such a physical force on you that for me that’s a responsibility. People need to be shaken out of the normality that is being forced upon us, that actually to me is very unnatural. I think we do live in quite dark times, there’s a kind of menacing element to society, the fabrication of society that we need to challenge, and question, and at least look into. Menace. That’s the word I was looking for. There’s a sense of intense menace in your music. One of the things I couldn’t help think of was that your music would be perfect as a backdrop to the recent London riots… The riots were quite invigorating. Everyone was scared shitless. It was hitting places nobody thought possible. Ealing is the leafiest, wealthiest suburb and buses were on fire there, you know? People’s houses were getting broken into too. It was a sudden shock to the system…And to be honest, I think that can be a healthy thing in the sense that it makes people debate, question and wonder what this was about. I think the truth of those riots is that it shows you that the society we’ve structured doesn’t really fulfil human happiness at all. One of the words that was used to describe your sound was hazy. You don’t sound hazy to me… That’s probably more of Ben’s influence. He probably wants to raise more questions that answers. Ben likes the idea of something really quick and extreme that then disappears. Something that sounds like the beginning of something epic but then it doesn’t come. He likes to create this sense of ambiguity that makes you feel quite unsure because you don’t know what to expect. It kind of puts you on edge which in a way makes you more alive. In terms of style, and maybe this is more a question for Ben, the music kind of touches upon everything. There’s hip hop, there’s dub step, a little bit of electronica, there’s folk, chill wave. How would you describe your music if you had to pigeonhole it? Yeah, it can be quite hard actually. I suppose alternative electronic is what we’ve been calling it. But obviously there are other elements in it and I know that Ben’s definitely coming from quite a few different strands. He’s got this really amazing way of drawing all these things together in a way that makes sense.
What music scenes or tribes did you belong to growing up? Oh very strong tribes. In weird ways Ben and I are complete opposites, we have completely different backgrounds. For me, my baptism as far as music began with one close best friend when I was 13-14. We started listening to Led Zepellin, The Doors, Guns N’ Roses and we were obsessed with them, we wanted to be them. I wanted to be Axl Rose, like a man you know. We disowned our femininity and we started playing music together and it was brilliant because it gave us an identity. It gave us the confidence to fucking rebel I guess. People used to take a piss out of us, saying, ‘Oh you listen to grandpa music’ but for me it was amazing because it was the beginning of me playing music. Then slowly but surely I opened my mind to newer things. The 60s, the 70s, the 80s. The Cure, The Smiths, obviously amazing. The 90s, Nirvana, Faith No More. It was mainly alternative and rock for me. Then I went into Depeche Mode, weirder stuff. Bonnie Prince Billy and just more mind-wrapping stuff, that was less literal, less of an image-based thing and more about ideas. And then Ben’s obviously introduced me to things like Yazoo, a lot of more electronic stuff. Do you guys have any side projects or is White Russia your main thing? Actually I’m working on something new with one of my friends whose playing bass and I’m playing guitar. It’s called The Russian Orthodox Wedding. That’s the working title so far. We recorded our song on a reel-to-reel analogue recorder all in one day. I can’t play guitar very well, she had just learned the bass, so there’s a complete naivety to it. It reeks of all the mistakes. It’s the bare bones but I’m quite excited about it. And Ben’s always working on different stuff. He produces stuff for a band called Steranko who are a punk bank in London who Lee Mangan, the video director, is the lead singer of. They’re a fucking amazing band, truly amazing live. Very very rare band. This is maybe a classic one, but what are you listening to at the moment? You know the band Girls? Yeah we’re interviewing them for this same edition… Oh cool. Their second album is fucking amazing. It’s so fucking profound. It’s like old school music again. You know an organ, and the song is allowed to develop. I love it. White Russia’s debut album O Jerusalem is out on L’Agenda Records on 28 th November. myspace.com/whiterussiamusic
The columns Talent Rise and shine
White Car White Car makes dark and broody industrial house music with a menacing streak. The band’s productions – Vortex funk meets darkroom boogie – are cold, calculated and composed. What you hear is what you get. And what you hear is hard. We skype-call White Car head honcho Elon Katz to talk about his slew of side projects, Chinese underground music and painting a house white.
© Zara Katz
Interview Nicholas Lewis
Your love and use of analogue equipment is well-documented… When I first discovered electronic music and started to play with it, I was using computers for the first five years and then I started to buy real analogue hardware instruments, real synths, real drum machines and so on. It’s moved from the computer to outside the
computer. I still use computers to record and to do all the editing. My music is still very much written on a computer but the sound doesn’t come from a computer at all. You sent me some of your most recent releases. Can you explain what the difference might be between you recording
as White Car, you recording as Aguire, and you recording as Streetwalker, your project with Beau Wanzer? Aguirre is kind of an earlier project, that I started in 2005 with a buddy of mine I went to high school with. We really got interested in a lot of electronic music together, listening to a lot of Warp and Planet Mu records, stuff
like that. Post-rave, UK stuff. White Car is a solo recording project that is based around taking these genres of electronic dance music that are very specific to the context of where they came from, and then morphing it into my songwriting and bringing these movements of electronic dance music closer to singer-songwriter territory. It’s not club music, but it very much uses all the ideas from past eras of club music to kind of start its foundation. And then my solo recordings is experimental electronic music, much more abstract and working with ideas of texture and sound. White Car is more of a cultural party fun project whereas my solo stuff is made with modular synthesisers so far so it’s much more about picking up sounds and then trying to make them happen. In a very broad sense, your music tilts towards the dark side, which might seem odd for someone who comes from California… There’s a lot of darkness in California. There’s no short answer really. It’s not a personal extension of ’my’ darkness. I think that the darkness you hear in the music is the story that it tells, more than who I am. What story does it tell then? It’s the story of humanity, human beings. Ignorance, oppression. America is kind of in a state right now where people are worried. It’s not a full-on depression, but there’s definitely a sense of darkness in the country right now with being at war for 10 years and the economy going under. Some people live in darkness and some people in light. I think that the stories I’m drawn to in terms of those I want to tell as a songwriter tend to be stories about darkness because it’s hard to learn from happiness. A lot of people say you learn more from your mistakes, and this is kind of the same thing. You profit more from being with darkness. I’m not depressed, but I’m introverted and I do have a pessimistic look. I don’t really look at people and have faith in them, and I think that comes out in my music. But I wouldn’t say dark, it’s such an overused word. It’s more paranoid, multi-faceted in its darkness. In the same way a Cronenberg or a Lynch movie is dark - you’re more intrigued by its darkness than turned off by it. There’s humour to it. And I think darkness is funny. My sense of humour is very black and very dark and I think that bands that take themselves very seriously in how depressed and how dark they are? That to me is fun… Coming back to White Car, when did you start recording as a unit? The first songs, the first EPs…. The first release was the White Car EP that came out in February 2010 on Rainbow Body Records, a Chicago label run by a guy called Chris Sloan and I had met the guys from
the band Gatekeeper, and we had really connected. I started hanging out with them more, playing with their gear, they were playing me a lot of music I hadn’t heard before. I got really inspired by a lot of it. And that was how White Car came about. We played our first show in June 2009, together with Gatekeeper.
ˆ White Car is […] based around taking these genres of electronic dance music that are very specific to the context of where they came from […] bringing these movements of electronic dance music closer to singer-songwriter territory ˇ You write most of the band’s songs right? I do yes. Orion (the other half of White Car) helps with the visual side of things, he plays electronic percussions. He is an editor, which is more helpful than anything else at this point in time with where we’re at with music-making. I’d say that in the last 10 years the most innovative instrument has been laptops and computers and being able to make better recordings in your house. Everyone’s a solo artist now, no one’s in a band anymore. That’s why there’s so much music now. But everyone’s recording themselves and half these people don’t have anyone in there helping them make their music. That’s what Orion does, he’s an editor. He comes in and listens to it and says “I like this part, I don’t like this part, this makes me think of this, this makes me think of that. We kind of understand each other’s language so well that I kind of understand where he’s coming from with all these ideas. You’re working on your new LP at the moment. It was supposed to be out in August right? It was supposed to be out in September. It’s gone through a few different versions, it’s a work-in-progress. Working on the music by myself mostly, there’s a sense of isolation to it. It’s hard to gage when its done. But right now, the release is set for late February 2012.
I don’t think that this music is only discoverable in Chicago, but being there, being in proximity to it and being in proximity to people who hold it really close to them made me revere it more. There are a lot of people there who are really interested in the history of Chicago and Chicago music and are interested in making sure that people hear a lot of the older records. So, just in terms of a physical thing, you can go and find good Chicago house records in almost any record stores, which may not be the case somewhere like California or Ohio. Can you describe your recording space? Is it mad scientist type lab or clean-cut minimalist studio? Oh I’m pretty organised. But, you know, there are a few cables flying around. I’m at a stage where I’ve been using a lot of the same stuff for three years now, and I’m trying to switch it out. But I’m in the process of also being broke, so I’m trying to figure out how to build a better studio for nothing. But it’s pretty clean: three or four keyboards, synthesisers, a couple of drum machines, some processors, a computer and some racks. It’s like, you know, a small room’s worth. What’s behind the name White Car? It’s literally a reference from a Cabaret Voltaire song. There’s a song on the last record Code called White Car. The song is about wealth and extravagance and the darkness of having money, which has always been interesting to me. I guess I resonated with that song. And the image of a white car always fascinated me, there was some mystery to it, some pre-conceived notions about it. The image of a white car is very creepy to most people, it’s always associated to kidnapping, or human trafficking. Plus you have to have money to keep it clean… If you were guest editing our white album’s music special which icon would you want to interview? There’s a good Chinese band called White. I would look into them because it’s very interesting to think of China’s underground scene. I think they’re from Beijing or Hong Kong. Last one: what’s your plan tomorrow? I have to paint a house. White….
White Car’s forthcoming album ’Everyday Grace’ is out on
How important do you think Chicago’s past underground scene was in shaping your current sound?
Hippos in Tanks in February 2012. white-car.net
© Raya Rayax
White labels For the white album I thought I’d tell you a bit more about DJ culture. DJ culture before the mp3 was invented and, more specifically, when white labels were the cachet of recognition record store clerks bestowed upon you. When I started buying records, around 1990, my favourite record stores were USA Import in Antwerp, Music Man in Gent and for second hand stuff I always went to Wally’s Groove World - Koenie’s shop that was squeezed in the basement of USA Import. Later on, Dr Vinyl opened shop in Brussels so I didn’t need to drive to Antwerp anymore, even though it was always good to visit other stores because each shop had its own selection. The only way to get some good music at the time was by religiously visiting those stores every week. On Thursdays was when most new records came in and you had to be quick to get them because there often weren’t many copies. So, best trick was to be
nice with the person selling the records: Smos at USA, Geert at Dr Vinyl, Benoulie & Biens at Music Man and Koenie at Wally’s Groove World. And, since I was one of the only girls mixing at the time, they always kept some nice copies for me. The retailers had a lot of power in those days. They listened to all the records that came in and it was obvious to them which ones would go on to become hits. Everything was ordered in small quantities and they kept the good records for themselves or their close friends. The idea being that people who bought the records could play them for a while before they hit the dance floors and radio waves. When you were really lucky though, you’d stumble upon a white label. White labels are completely white records. They are promotional copies (not for sale!) although we were quite happy to buy them. They were records that the record companies sent to stores to promote a song that hadn’t yet been released, to sound the market out a little. So, if you were lucky enough to have purchased a good white
label record, it was highly probable that you’d be the only one playing it for months before it got released. And, as a DJ, what better way to stand out from the pack than to be spinning some tunes that nobody else could play? Every DJ had his own style and his own hits, songs that everybody could sing along to but that nobody knew the exact name of the producer or the label. That’s also the reason why a lot of DJs used special (white) stickers to cover the etiquette. Some of the notorious white labels that were released six months or even a year before their official release were Felix’s Don’t you want me, T99’s Anastasia, Cameo’s Money and Nightcrawlers’ Push the feeling on. All of them went on to become very big hits. (Lady Jane) Thanks to Geert from Dr Vinyl (Brussels). Jane’s next Black Out party will be taking place on 10 th December at Mr. Wong’s, with New York’s Jessica 6 and Istanbul’s Baris K manning the decks.
The Word with Talent We love Current
Girls’ ascension to indie pop supremacy hasn’t really taken anyone by surprise. The San Francisco band’s debut album, Album, had already enjoyed critical acclaim back in 2009 and, with its follow-up LP Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the ever-evolving duo of Christopher Owens and Chet “JR” White officially cemented their place amongst the indie world’s shining stars. We caught up with the band’s front man Chris to talk white sneaker fetishes, running a business and singing “Stille nacht” to sailors at Christmas time in Antwerp’s docks. Interview Nicholas Lewis, with additional research by Pauline Miko
I just saw the video for your single Honey Bunny. I think you guys posted it on your Facebook page two days ago. It got quite a good response. Are you happy with it? Yeah, I think so, yeah I like it. Well you know, it’s not a big deal for me. It’s more for the fans.
…and I noticed that the car, the Corvette, in the video was white as well. I mean, is there a link to be made or is it just me tripping out? (laughs) No, you’re, no… You’re reading into it too much! The Corvette is silver.
This interview we’re doing is going to run in our November edition and it’s going to be themed “the white album”. Hum now, I read in an interview of yours that you have some sort of fetish for white sneakers… Ha ha!
Well I watched it on my shitty laptop. Yeah. I wear the shoes not because of the fact that they’re white, but just because of the fact that they’re the classic Air Force One’s. You know, because of the fact that they’re not trendy. That’s why I like them.
Compared to the first one, this new album sounds a lot richer, more accomplished. I mean, it definitely sounds like you have come of age as a songwriter. Other than relentless touring, what would you attribute this maturity gain to? Yeah, you know, I don’t think there’s any difference. One third of the songs on the new album were written at the same time than the songs from the first album. It’s just that the recordings are better, we’re working in a studio, with a group of musicians that are very good. But in the first album I was playing
every instruments and JR was running all the equipment and now on this album we had engineers, producers and musicians and a studio and everything was done right. But there’s no change. On the album’s first song Honey Bunny, which is also the video you just released, you sing ‘they don’t like my bony body, they don’t like my dirty hair’ and then you go on to sing about a girl who loves you for who you are. This theme of acceptance are you referring to anyone in particular or is it more of a general statement? It’s a general statement. The song was written at the time when the person in the song doesn’t know for sure if they’re ever going to find somebody, the right person. It’s about saying: I’m not going to give up, I’m going to keep trying because it might be right around the corner. It’s about optimism. You’ve been quoted as saying that you think that music is a spiritual way to communicate transcendent things… Yeah, it’s more about just communicating my feelings. I think it’s important for me because I’m trying to figure these things out myself. It’s just talking about it in the songs in the same way that somebody might go to therapy or write a journal. That’s really the motive. I don’t want to indoctrinate anybody with any kind of theories, but I do want to communicate my feelings. For me it’s really selfish. How important is the validation of websites such as Pitchfork to you? What do you think of this moral authority that one website commands on the indie scene? I don’t really know. I don’t follow it, I don’t check it, I don’t read it. But I know when they give us a good score, I hear about it. It’s just like anything, when you get an award or you get praise… It���s really not the time where you feel successful. You feel successful the first time you listen to the album after it’s finished. It’s the same for live shows – when you’ve had a good show and when the audience was really great. And after that it’s like when people close to you are telling you they have real respect for what you’re doing or something. And finally after that, of course you want to get some respect from the people in the industry. But it’s really not the first thing. Our booking agents, our record label, our fans, … They were there before our first album, before we got a review. I think it helps, of course, but I know for example if Pitchfork had given us a bad support on this album it wouldn’t have made a difference. The tour was already booked before this. We don’t go and say like: “hey, look at the score, will you give us a show?”
Doing my research, I couldn’t help but feel that you’re definitely moving closer to the mainstream and it’s not a move that you seem to be doing yourself. Rather, it’s the mainstream that seems to be embracing you, I mean you have interviews in GQ, Vogue Italia, showcases on Conan. How do you feel about that? You’re clearly becoming the darling of the airwaves. It’s just because those people are just slower than the public. You know, it’s the same in politics for example. Finally yesterday, there’s no discrimination about homosexuality in the army anymore. It’s just the government always needs an extra 10 years just to catch up. It’s the same with people like GQ. They would never say “Oh, I saw a band last night in a bar, let’s do a story!” They wait until you’re becoming relevant. The only reason that the mainstream is catching on is because they’re the slowest ones. Probably the final person to catch on would be like hum… Obama or something!
ˆ If Pitchfork had given us a bad support on this album it wouldn’t have made a difference. The tour was already booked before this. We don’t go and say like: ‘ Hey, look at the score, will you give us a show? ’ ˇ That’d be nice… Yeah, that’s the goal! They’ll give me a call and say: “I’ve listened to your album and it’s really good!” You recently stated in an interview that “The album should go down in history as an important album. I hope people realise that. Whether they do or not, they should at least not write it off as music that is trying to sound a certain way.” Yeah, you know, I believe that this is a great album, I believe that the music is great and that we did a good job making it. We took huge steps up from the first album to the EP to this record. It would have been really easy for us to spend three or four thousand dollars and make another one of those and just put it out and stick to what we know, but we invested much more money into this new record. That’s the whole thing, even right now, on our tour, everybody got engaged to
go on the road and they get paid a lot of money. And you know, the easy thing to do would have been: keep the same plan up from the beginning, keep the money just low, keep going on cheap tours, and rack up some money for ourselves. You know, when you look at it, it looks like a small business or something: every time we get extra money we put it straight back into our business and we make a better thing for the people involved. I have a lot of pride about what we’re doing because for me it’s the first time in my life where I’m doing something and I’m basically a part of a company. I’m making decisions. I’d like for people to understand that this is a very serious effort and that there is a lot of work going on. People like to label you as a certain thing and to me it’s frustrating because here I am 32 years old trying to run a company, make a career out of this and make the best albums possible. You’ve spent some time in Belgium. Can you tell me how you ended up here, where you lived, any memories you kept, things you remember about the place? Yeah I spent like six months there! I was living in France at the time and my mom had a new boyfriend and I wasn’t getting along with him and that was becoming… you know young teen (I was like 13 years old, or maybe 12) and I was being rebellious. So there was this place where they wanted to send me away so I could maybe be mature or something and to be totally honest with you I don’t really know what city it was, I don’t remember anything about where I was. I remember that it was a very nice place and I liked it a lot. We had goats roaming around freely. Do you remember if you were in the French speaking part or in the Flemish speaking part? I was speaking French, for sure. So you went with your mom to Belgium? No, I was by myself. I do know one detail, which is that they used to take all the children together and there were a lot of children and we’d go sing in the docks of Antwerp – where there are all the big ferry boats from everywhere around the world – and we’d go on the boat and sing “Stille naaacht, tralala naaacht”… Really? I’m serious! To the sailors?! Yeah! And then we would sell some cassette tapes of us singing. And that’s how we would make some money. But it was like a program for kids who were kind of having a hard time growing up. You’d go there and learn how to sing Christmas carols and take care of goats and play outside. I don’t know if that helped me or not. But I remember I liked Belgium a lot.
You’ll be playing in Brussels in November. Do you still know some people here? Oh, I don’t know anybody there. Even one year later I never spoke to any of those people again. That’s the story of my whole life, you know. Be somewhere, experience it, leave and forget about it. What about the time you spent in Texas? Well you know there is a huge amount of time there. When I moved to Texas I was 16 years old, in 1996. And a lot of things happened. I spent about nine years there. So nine years after you moved to San Francisco? Yeah. When I moved to SF I was 25. But you were always into music, like back in Texas, you were already playing in bands? No, when I first moved there all I did was just buy albums. It was the first time for me to buy albums. I spent about four years just buying as many albums as I could. I was just a fan, a very honest fan of bands that were on MTV. That’s all I knew. And then I got into punk and that’s a very different thing. A part of the thing that came with my punk lifestyle is that I moved into a house where a lot of us played music together. There’s something about getting into punk very seriously where you do start playing music, and I did, but it wasn’t like this. I never wrote any songs, I didn’t care about music. It was just like in the same way that religious people sing in a church, and they have a huge musical history, well it’s the same for punks I think. Every punk will tell you “Oh yes, I’ve been in a band.” I feel like in my youth I had religious music, and then in my teenage years I had punk music and it was only when I became an adult that I wrote my own music. What do you qualify your music of now? How would you describe it? I really don’t know. I think it’s just pop music or you know, rock and roll music. Like I’ve seen our CD on iTunes and it’s says “alternative music”. You know I think that’s really nice but I think that’s also very big. Like “alternative to what?” A lot has been said regarding your upbringing and how important religion was, so I don’t want to go into detail about it. But, your album’s name evidently conjures feelings of some sort of religious reference. Now I’ve also read that it was not your attempt at all. But I guess what I’m trying to get to here is that seen from our eyes, the current political climate in the US is really highly charged on religion. So I just wanted to know: where do you stand on that? I don’t really agree actually. I think that’s a mess. It’s kind of like the idea that America is free or something like that. These are lies. I think
The Word with
that the “in God we trust” and the American Republican sort of Christian thing is a lie that is presented to the rest of the world so you guys think we’re very religious. It’s propagated by the American government and by the culture here. I spent a lot of time in my life travelling around the world, living in countries for years and years. I still travel now and I follow the world news and I’ll go so far as to say that a lot of European countries are more strongly Catholic and traditionally religious than America! For example if you go to Belgium, it’s the same kind of feeling in America: some people are religious, some people aren’t. Nobody really cares. You know, Bachmann, Rick Perry those people are not religious people. They’re hypocrites. They do that to receive votes. The population here is just stupid. You know I guarantee you that those people all have really disgusting demons in their closets.
ˆ I feel really similar to Biggie or 2 Pac’s personalities; they both were raised by a single mother who was very dynamic with a lot of personality ˇ Do you have religion overload? Given your upbringing, is there a point where you’re like “Gosh these guys are making so much out of this!” Hum I don’t know, I kind of understand the whole reason why people are saying that. I think it’s because of the 60s American “hippie cult”, you know, it’s something that happened here, and half of the country (maybe 75 percent) subscribe to this. They all said: “Yes we should drop out, we should take drugs, we should have free sex…” I mean there was a time when the Children of God were very normal - I mean not specifically our cult but – these were the very normal feelings that America was turning to. And then everybody knows that these things came and failed. I mean people killed themselves, the Government went in and killed the branch deviant. Everybody knows that free sex lead to AIDS. America has literally shifted. So there are two elements. One, it’s interesting to see the child of this very specific American culture come and say ‘this is my take on what actually happened’. But then for other people this cult is just so bizarre. This crazy sexual
cult. All these things they don’t know about. You know: yes there is a religious aspect but I don’t think it’s so much religion, I think there is a political and historical element to it taken by the adults. You know, I feel like I got fucked over by the older generation, by the hippies. I realise that. But then for the people of my age it’s like ‘he was born in a cult’. This is very dark. I think nobody has ever asked me any questions about religion, it’s always like ‘So then, what happened?’ They want to hear juicy things ‘Oh your brother died’, ‘Oh your mom did this, your mom did that.’ I never had anybody ask me about the religious beliefs of the John Booka. Do you still, to a certain extent, live the way you where brought up? Do you still believe in certain of the things of The Children of God? No I can’t you know, it’s not possible. In order for me to do that, I’d have to separate myself from the world again and live in a community with hundreds of people, I’d have to stop earning money, I’d have to… We used to live in a very complicated way and I think I would never live like that again. I would have to go back to them. I’m 100 percent free right now. I had no freedom before. Is it a part of your childhood that you look back at negatively? No. Because I don’t want to do that. I did that for a long time but it’s very unhealthy. You know I would not just be upset; I’d get so angry. It’s not even an option for me to be upset about that. If you research anything about this group, you’d know what I’m talking about. You’d know that the children try to kill the parents that brought them up and kill themselves. This is not a fucking joke! I’ve been out of the Children of God since 1996. It’s a long time ago. And I’ve learned how to appreciate what happened to me and like myself. If I don’t do that, it’s all over. I’d be finished, other people would be finished. You know, there is just no option. The only option that I have is to say “everything is fine”. One of the things in your childhood is that you couldn’t discover music directly. Apart from going to record stores, how would you discover new music now? On YouTube. (laughs) Personally, SF is a city I love. I’ll always remember the record store “Amoeba Records”? Does that still exist? Does it hold a lot of meaning to the city’s musicians? Did it help in anyway for you? Did you play there? Yeah we played there for our first album release. I go there all the time, I live in that neighbourhood, so that’s where I buy my albums.
Like I said, this interview is going to run in our white album, which will evoke themes of purity, transparency and honesty. Which are themes that could really describe a big chunk of your latest album. There is a fresh naivety, it’s simple, self-spoken. You talk about ‘starting anew, that’s why I’m sticking with you, nobody makes me feel better and magic.’ It’s very honest and transparent. Is that kind of who you are? Do you kind of to say things the way… Yeah yeah. This is how I am. I’m very open. Of course it’s great for the song writing and it’s great for interviews and it’s great for any kind of public personality. When I see people, I can talk with them and it’s just much easier to be just very honest but then at the same time I have a lot of stress…distressfulness. I feel stupid or I feel like people know too much about me. You know I read interviews and I feel like they made mistakes at the wrong things. I have to talk to my family all the time because they think I have a drug problem…The reality is that I’m OK, you know. The reality is just that I’m running a big business here. People work for me, and there’s been a recession in the United States for the past five years while I had to develop a brand new company! And I’m doing well, so… I can’t help but notice that any artist referring to his band or his art as a business is pretty rare! I’ve never met an artist who takes it so seriously and really talks about it like you’re the General Manager for the company “and I have employees and all”. You know, this shit is serious! Ha ha! I don’t know. Maybe it’s the wrong thing to say… Just to give me an idea, I don’t need a specific figure here but you know this second album, it’s getting so much praise. Is this it for you? Are you guys kind of like comfortable for the next five years of your life and can you now buy yourself a studio and invest in gear and buy yourself a house, or…? No! I mean, nobody makes money selling records anymore. But you’re touring. Yeah but this is our first tour for the new album. And sure, if we tour for the next two years, a lot, we can earn enough money. Anyway, without getting into money details, reality is yes, we have a opportunity right now: we could stop recording, play tons of festivals and outdoor…because the licenses are admitted…Coca-Cola…Just today I turned down a option from Tommy Hilfiger!
commercial and we would not play festivals for two years on one album and keep the money apart: we’re going to the studio by next year. If I had to choose a musical genre that was the furthest away from what you guys are doing now, I’d say rap is definitely it. Do you listen to any hip-hop, who’s is your favourite gangsta rapper? Oh I love hip-hop. My favourite rapper right now is Tylor the Creator. I’ve always liked rap. I feel really similar to Biggie or 2Pac’s personalities; they both were raised by a single mother who was very dynamic with a lot of personality. 2Pac’s mother was a political activist, Biggie’s mother was a single mother and they both didn’t finish college and they, at some point, started to write songs and they became very open and honest and tried to write everything and they did it until they died. And Biggie’s real name is actually Christopher Wallace. But, realistically I feel exactly the same as those two guys. I used to be a very big Wu-Tang fan but I think that’s kind of over now. We asked a couple of our readers to send us questions on Twitter and one reader had a particularly funny one. He’s like ‘What does it feel like to be idolised by Pitchfork media but not to be able to be found on Google?’ (laughs)
Yeah, I mean not really. When I talked about working on it, that was the time when I was writing the songs but I had to put them away. That’s really how all of our work is done: I write them, put them away and the next day of work is just in the studio, there’s nothing in between so yeah, the first job has been done for the reggae album (the songs are written) but really I don’t know when we’ll work on it, I don’t know if this is going to happen. It will be a Girls project, then? I’d like it to be. I’ve received a lot of oppositions from the others involved, specifically on this one! It’d have to be done differently. I think that people have done co-records like that. I’d have to be done in a studio with a Jamaican producer, vocal musicians and all that. All right. Last question: if I’m not mistaken, you like Oasis, the band? Oh yeah! What do you prefer, Beady Eye or High Flying Birds (Liam and Noel’s new projects)? Oh God, I wish I knew, ah. I’d really love to tell you an answer but I haven’t listened to either of them. My intuition is to stick with Noel on this one. Girls’ latest album Father, Son, Holy Ghost is out now on
Why? Because that’s what we do. We would not accept Tommy Hilfiger’s option for a
I read somewhere that you’re working on a reggae album. Is that a project that’s still going on?
True Panthers. myspace.com/girls
The Food Special
© Sarah Eechaut
The Food Special
Bouchéry, Brussels Tastes and textures. Herbs and happiness. Gastronomic restaurant Bouchéry, a recent opening in the suburban south of Brussels is all you could want for in a gourmet experience. “My inspiration comes when I am cutting the herbs I need,” explains Damien Bouchery of his locally sourced seasonal menus. And local means local, with herbs culled from the terrace garden upstairs. The menus are short, with only three starters and three mains, but varied; the threecourse lunch (a snip at ¤ 24) stands shoulder-toshoulder with the à la carte choices. The cooking is outstanding. Veal cheeks, a set menu option, glisten darkly on the plate; “melt in the mouth” good, enthuses my dining companion. The firm white flesh of the sizeable chunk of Iberico Pata Negra pork fillet is succulent and flavoursome. But the real pleasure is to be served food evidently prepared with passion and sourced with knowledge. The herbs and unusual vegetation
crop up throughout the menu. Nasturtium petals plucked from a plant growing on the tree-shaded terrace outside decorate an amuse-bouche. A platter of cheeses arrives before dessert with a side of sharply dressed salad leaves. Some look prickly as if they might sting, but their slightly bitter taste cuts through the butteriness of the cheeses. Bouchery also gives plenty of textural contrast both through his choice of ingredients and their preparation. A cappuccino of lobster bisque, the second amuse-bouche, is topped with an airy celery foam. Hidden is the surprise of little cubes of crisp, Granny Smith apple. Slices of pure white radish or organic beetroot add crunch to the juicy Pata Negra and veal cheek. Similarly to The Word, colour plays its very own part at Bouchéry: a mash of violet potato swirls across a plate and the orange nasturtium petals sit lightly beside the crispy carroty spring roll. Bright, really bright yellow egg yolk captures the attention in a starter served in a bowl with Trumpet de la Morte, black chanterelles, and crunchy bits of Jerusalem artichoke. There’s that texture thing again. Interiors are simple but classy and thought through. The timeless blond wood-framed Wishbone chairs by Hans
Wegner front tables pert with crisp linen. Cream leather banquettes opposite are accented with spherical pale turquoise pendant lamps. This is the only colour besides a simple red wild flower amongst a vase of green grasses. The lunchtime dining room receives light from two sides and looks towards the terrace. The additional main dinning room with high ceilings is overseen by twin Spanish landscape images of ‘escape’ taken by Bouchery’s actress-partner and the restaurant’s charming host, Bénédicte. Bouchery from Breton leads the kitchen of his eponymously named restaurant. Sharp readers will have picked up the accent on the restaurant’s name. This was added by Bénédicte to lend a bit of glamour to the name that also references boucherie, a butchers. Having earned a Michelin star at his last restaurant, Bistrot du Mail in Ixelles/Elsene, the cuddly men from Michelin will doubtless be deliberating on Bouchery’s Bouchéry soon. (GD) Bouchéry Chaussée d’Alsemberg 812A Alsembergsesteenweg 1180 Brussels bouchery-restaurant.be
A burger bonanza New burger joints have been popping up on the city’s streets with more urgency than sesame seeds on a burger bun. And we’re talking the trendy, Kobe-beef style joints here. The kind of places where the fries and coleslaw come extra (a big no no in our books). Intent on setting the record straight and shining a light on the true school originals, we highlight three burger bars that, for us, pass the credibility and provenance test. Writer Sarah Schug
Rachel The nostalgic burger
“Eating burgers makes me think of my childhood, and I wanted to revive that,” says Boston-born Frédérik Haspeslagh, the owner of Rachel. Having been impregnated by American culture during his formative years, Haspeslagh thought to bring a little touch of American comfort to the city’s streets, opening up his burger joint Rachel in the heart of Brussels’ St Jacques neighbourhood – right opposite Le Fontainas. Playing the nostalgia card to great effect, the eatery’s interiors delight in their quirkiness (think Sponge Bob pillows, Rubik cubes, comic books and lots of colour) whilst the burgers on offer place Rachel right at the top of our list. Traditionalists will no doubt go for ’the Chuck’, a 130 gram, 100 percent pure Belgian beef patty burger with sliced pickles and tomatoes, cheddar cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard, held together by an authentic soft burger bun topped with sesame seeds and served with nachos and green salad. It’s the kind of burger that’ll send you on a trip down memory lane. Classic ’Chuck’ Burger: ¤ 10,00 Rachel Rue du Marché au Charbon 100 Kolenmarktstraat 1000 Brussels
Photographer Ulrike Biets
The Food Special
Balmoral The hangover burger
“I got the idea for the restaurant while travelling through the US back in 1989 and have been going back ever since to get new inspirations,” says Balmoral owner Pascal Nihoul. Serving up traditional American food (everything from nachos to pancakes and spare ribs are on the menu), the diner’s best known for its burgers, which honour American’s belief that big is better. At a whopping 200 grams, and way larger than any other burger we sampled, Balmoral’s Classic Cheeseburger (100% pure Belgian beef, cheddar cheese, grilled onions and ketchup) comes out top of the list as far as grease count is concerned (and, don’t be mistaken, that’s a good thing in our burger books). It’s a messy affair, yes, but that’s half the fun. One the Sunday morning hangover victims will relish. Classic cheeseburger: ¤ 12,20 Le Balmoral Place Brugmann 21 Brugmannplaats 1050 Brussels
Hotel Conrad’s Bar Loui The gourmet burger
A favourite with the city’s businessmen and visiting dignitaries, Bar Loui, like most hotel bars, has a simple but well-kept plan: it serves up classics, but it does so well. Take its Bacon-Cheeseburger for starters. The work (and pride) of head chef Frédéric Gonzalez, it surprises in its juiciness, every bite delivering its own dose of carefully scripted grease drops down the burger bun. It also is perfectly balanced, with every ingredient (110 gram beef patty imported from Ireland, cheese, crispy bacon, crunchy iceberg salad, a tomato slice and a freshly-baked golden bun) playing its part in ensuring each and every taste bud is satisfied. Add to that Gonzalez’ sauce (a secret recipe) and you’ve just found another way to burn a 30euro hole through your pocket. It is highly worth it though, trust us.
Brussels’ other stand out burgers Delecta Rue Lannoystraat 2, 1050 Brussels Houtsiplou Rue du Midi 161 Zuidstraat, 1000 Brussels
Bacon-cheeseburger: ¤ 30,00
Fatboys Place du Luxembourg 5
Bar Loui (inside the Conrad Hotel)
Avenue Louise 71 Louizalaan
Cool Bun Rue Berckmansstraat 34, 1060 Brussels
A table for Belgium
Want the best Filet americain/Steak tartare in town (the one that even Bill Clinton got to taste)? Or the juiciest Stoemp around? Maybe you’re in the mood for a steaming casserole of mussels? Or a Bloempanch (Brussels’ infamous flour and blood sausage dish) is really what makes your mouth water? Whatever your national dish of choice, chances are we know the best table for it. Writer Nicholas Lewis
Photographer Grégoire Pleynet
The Food Special
Au Vieux St Martin
The staple of the Niels restaurant empire (which also includes La Marie Joseph on Place St Catherine as well as the Canterbury in Flagey), Le Vieux St Martin sits on Brussels’ Grand Sablon/Grote Zavel the way a queen sits on her throne – majestic, composed and dignified. With its kitchen open for business throughout the day, it has ever since its opening in 1968 excelled in cooking up authentic Belgian cuisine (its Filet Américain, invented in 1924 by founder Albert Niels, is the stuff of legend) for the upper crust of society – everyone from Bill Clinton to Johnny Depp has eaten here. A pillar of the city’s dining landscape, Au Vieux St Martin is the kind of place where your parents took you as a child, and where you’ll definitely be taking your children too – kind of like that Piaget watch that is passed on from generation to generation and never goes out of fashion. Au Vieux St Martin Place du Grand Sablon 38 Grote Zavel 1000 Brussels
Le Pré Salé
Founded in 1968, le Pré Salé is squeezed between two townhouse on Brussels’ Rue de Flandres/Vlaamsesteenweg, its entrance flanked on both sides by two large windows offering full view of the restaurant’s interior. Once inside, the first thing that strikes you is the open kitchen, the magnificent tiling on the floors and walls as well the glassworks dating back to the 1800s, and which hang above the kitchen counter. Authentic and no-nonsense, le Pré Salé’s our go-to-place for seasonal mussels, which come direct from Zeeland (owner John Lerinckx calls them the ’golden’ mussels) and are best served ’nature, with a portion of homemade French fries of course Rue de Flandre 20 Vlaamsesteenweg 1000 Brussels.
Taverne du Passage
Clean cut waiters with crisp white coats, Brasserie-style cuisine and art-deco interiors combine to make la Taverne du Passage an 82 year old institution amongst the city’s ’bons vivants’ and movie-goers (the restaurant sits next door to the Cinema Arenberg) alike. Famed for its Americain/Tartare prepared on-the-spot (’en salle’) by the expert waiters and revered for its Croquettes de Crevettes Grises/Garnalenkroketten it really is the restaurant’s bustling atmosphere – think clinking cutlery and smoke-thick laughter – that makes it so endearing – and easy to come back to. Galerie de la Reine 26 Koninginnegalerij 1000 Brussels
Something of a museum to Belgian dining (the restaurant’s walls are lined with all kinds of vintage Belgian candy, biscuit and chocolate tins, as well as vintage beer trays), Restobières specialises, at its name indicates, in recipes which include beer. This can mean anything from Scampi in Kriek to Stoemp in Chouffe, although the restaurant’s reputation was really built on its Bloempanch, a large flour and blood sausage dosed in Kriek. The perfect food to get drunk to, they don’t get any more authentic than Restobières. Rue des Renards 32 Vossenstraat 1000 Brussels
The Food Special
Le Chou de Bruxelles
Another obligatory stop on Brussels’ mussels trail, Le Chou de Bruxelles stands apart through the sheer variety of its offering. Its mussels (also from Zeeland) are available in over 30 different flavours, although it is the restaurant’s ’Moules à la Chef’ (vegetables, ginger, white wine, garlic and cream) and ’Moules à l’Ardennaise’ (vegetables, bacon, mushrooms and cream), which tops diners’ wish list. Add to that the menu’s Belgian white wine (from Flanders’ Hageland region), the obligatory bib one must wear when digging into a casserole of mussels as well as the statue of the Manneke Pis that hovers above the table, and you’ll quickly comprehend why this has become, since its beginnings in 1994, one of the neighbourhood’s favourite tables. Rue de Florence 26 Florencestraat 1050 Brussels
Aux Armes de Bruxelles
Founded in 1921 by the Veulemans family, Aux Armes de Bruxelles is the patriarch of Brussels eating, the restaurant royals dine in – King Leopold III apparently used to be a regular, and as recently as a couple of weeks ago, Prince Albert II from Monaco stopped by. Best known for its Waterzooi (either fish or chicken), all of the restaurants’ dishes are homemade on-the-spot and served by a distinguished and upright team of waiters dressed in the restaurant’s emblazoned white coats and black trousers. With a cosy and intimate feel to it (certain tables come complete with their own private booths), Aux Armes de Bruxelles is the ambassador, the flag-waver. Rue des Bouchers 13 Beenhouwersstraat 1000 Brussels
The food showstoppers
Let’s do brunch on Sunday… Nothing beats Sunday morning brunch with the family. The cousin that laughs at his own jokes. The uncle that’d much rather be watching the cricket. The aunt that’s laid on a feast fit for kings. The nephew still hung-over from the night before. The granddad wondering what all the fuss is about (“All I want is an egg and some butter on toast”). The toddler turning the entire kitchen upside down. And the youngsters watching Hannah Montana reruns on the telly. Aah, Sunday brunch – it’s messy and it’s noisy but there’s nothing quite like it. Photographer Melika Ngombe
Section editor Melisande McBurnie
For serving: Donna Wilson spring jug
Part of Donna Wilson’s spring collection, this jug’s seasonal patterns are just the breeze of fresh air you need at the brunch table. It’s uplifting, it’s endearing and, most important of all, bellows the breakfast table with good vibes. And it’s only a jug. ¤ 65,00 Available from La Fabrika (Brussels). donnawilson.com
The Food Special
For spreading: Butter dish
Butter’s probably the most essential ingredient for brunch. You’ll need it for your scrambled eggs. You’ll need it for your toast and, if you’re feeling piggish, you’ll need it for your pancakes too. So it is only normal that it deserves its own dish, just as the jam or the milk do too. And, the trick here is to keep it bare and minimal: see-through and, above all, easily accessible. Check. ¤ 13,00 Available from Habitat (Brussels). habitat.be
For storing: Joseph Joseph melanine bread bin
How ingenious. A bread box whose cover doubles as a cutting board. Perfect for you space-constrained city-slickers, Jacob Anderson’s two-in-one novelty comes in classic black or sparkling white and affords enough storage space to stock just about the right variety of loafs to keep the entire family happy. ¤ 65,00 Available from Buss Jadoul (Brussels). josephjoseph.com
The food showstoppers
For frying: Bacon and sausages
The fry-up. No brunch is complete without it. Being somewhat experts at the art of Sunday morning grease feasts, we’ve built up quite an impressive book of ’best for…’ addresses, and Brussels butcher Jack O’Shea’s organic back bacon and Irish breakfast sausages are the best there is in town – hands down. The bacon comes vacuumed packed whilst the sausages are made on the spot. Beware though: once you go Jack’s you can’t go back. Organic, dry cured, smoked back bacon (¤ 21,95/kg) Organic sausages (¤ 15,25/kg) Available from Jack O’Shea. jackoshea.com
For holding: Donna Wilson bird eggcup
Why had no one ever thought of this earlier? An eggcup with a bird’s nest pattern on it. How fitting. How cute. How lovely. Available as a three-piece army (the names are Bird, Meg and Mogg) but sold separately, the ceramic eggcups are handmade and printed in the United Kingdom. Ideal for dipping your little morning soldiers in. ¤ 13,00 Available from La Fabrika (Brussels). donnawilson.com
The Food Special
For drinking: Bugatti’s Milla espresso maker
Trusted sources tell us this is the espresso maker purists will go for. Combining timeless elegance with functional ingenuity, Bugatti’s Milla espresso maker satisfies our need for design discipline with its streamlined elegance whilst catering to our traditionalist urges with its back to basics approach. Suitable for gas, ceramic and electric cooktops, it might not exactly scream ’instant’ but you better believe this aluminium-framed pot is set to become your next best friend. ¤ 49,00 Available from Buss Jadoul (Brussels). casabugatti.it
For eating: Villeroy & Boch breakfast plates
Plates are an all-too-often forgotten element of brunch politics, a last thought. A ’fuck it, let’s just use the ones we always use’ kind of thing. Truth is, what good is an intricate pattern on a plate if, at the end of the day, it only stands to be hidden by a mountain of grease? Best to play it understated, right? Well, we’ve found just the set of breakfast plates you need. With confident restraint and just the right dose of colour, these Villeroy & Boch breakfast plates will show your guests that you made the effort, without saying so too loudly. Available from Buss Jadoul (Brussels). villeroy-boch.com
The shelf Arts Photography Publishing
Shedding light When all else fails, let us look to the light and draw from it a moment we shared. When it was just right, when it fell on us so perfectly, all those little details it helped, erm, bring to light, mummified in the well of memories. For it is here that they will keep, as the light shifts and steals new shape. There are some that will always remain. Writer Melisande McBurnie
Photographer Stine Sampers
Camden by Jean-Christian Bourcart Images en Manœuvres Editions
Gone? by Robert Adams Steidl
Black and White by Ellsworth Kelly Hatje Cantz
Bourcart’s most recent publication – what could almost be described as a photo journal – sees him set foot into one of Americas most malignant areas. It portrays the subject in complete disarray, caught off guard. It’s as if the state had just come and repossessed the bed, the fridge, even the roof, just as he was about to click the shutter. Q-tips litter the floor, along with pen caps and exposed cables. From bitter cold streets to sticky tarmac and, every so often, a gesture, a kiss, an embrace. This is the stuff of “shit”… All the things you weren’t supposed to see. And to think he simply googled “most+dangerous+city+america”, result “Camden.”
In his latest book Gone?, Robert Adams take us on a “Hansel and Gretel” journey into the landscape of a recollection based in Colorado. Shot in black and white, a series of photos taken in the 1980s document the slow evolution of a once wild region. Revisiting a place, where as a young boy Adams walked and the impact it now plays on reshaping his memory, Gone? is the disappearance of personal landmarks, of how one got from A to B and all the little pit stops in-between. There is something engaging upon seeing Adams’ vast lands devoid of colour that leaves us with an urge to fill it in, a true scrapbook of sorts. One can’t help but want to remember with him of how it used to be…
Investigating the interplay of positive and negative, form versus colour and the space that surrounds us, Ellsworth Kelly brings us back to basics. With over six decades of study and observation into his everyday surroundings, having first gained worldwide acclaim for his paintings and drawings, Kelly now presents us with Black and White. Asking the viewers’ approach to be that of a child, who learns from disassembling and reassembling, the result is engaging and playful – looking somewhat simple at first sight though closer inspection reveals there’s an equation behind each move, a “working out” so to speak, a consideration of weight, balance and its tipping point. Indeed we are left with a querying feeling of “What came first?”
Red Roses Yellow Rain by Marrigje de Maar Hatje Cantz
In Red Roses Yellow Rain, Marrigje captures the more humble abodes and their interiors over a period of several visits to the “Motherland”, a country rapidly hurtling into modernisation. Here she allows us to spy into a culture still steaming with history and traditions. A domestic journey into communist China and what lies behind the wall. It’s almost like walking onto the set of a Zhang Yimou film. The classic coral-red and jade-green with floral flasks and pink plastic bags taking on a form of true “minimal-decor” all captured with that similar somber light. So inviting are these images, one can almost smell the tea brewing.
Far Too Close by Martina Hoogland Ivanow Steidlmack
Far Too Close entangles the boundaries between familiar and foreign. Drawing the viewer into something of a secret and what lurks in its shadows, Ivanow depicts the features of an almost faceless person, making it near impossible to make out where one subject ends and the other begins. Having traveled extensively over a seven year period to remote places such as Siberia, Sakhalin Island and Tierra del Fuego, on the southern tip of Argentina, the photographer sets out to explore and capture a personal history of “home”. The shape of sheets are here and the place on a pillow where a head had rested.
Visit thewordmagazine.be/dribbles/theblackbooks for Amazon purchase links.
From left to right
Far Too Close (Steidlmack), Red Roses Yellow Rain (Hatje Cantz), Gone? (Steidl), Black & White (Hatje Cantz) and Camden (Images en Manœuvres Editions).
The view Photography
Above the clouds
The fluffiness of clouds. Their infinity and serenity. The layer of cosiness they resemble from atop. And how unattainable they often seem from down below. They’re not always there nor are they always what they seem. They’re what you want them to be. Photographer Julie Calbert
Visit thewordmagazine.be/wonders/abovetheclouds for our full feature on clouds.
Sony sony.be Pages 4-5
The Word & Levis fashionforwalls.be
The Word Magazine thewordmagazine.be/the-magazine
Rouge Tomate rougetomate.be
The Word on the iPad thewordmagazine.be/ipad
Le Book lebook.com
Hotel Amigo hotelamigo.com
The stockists Consume We love
Boulevard de Waterloolaan 27 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 08 77 agnesb.com
Donna Wilson (at La Fabrika)
Rue A. Dansaertstraat 182 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 502 33 25 donnawilson.com Dries Van Noten (at Stijl)
Bugatti (at Buss Jadoul)
Chaussée de Charleroi 18 Charleroisesteenweg 1060 Brussels +32 (0) 2 538 14 45 casabugatti.it Carine Gilson
Rue A. Dansaertstraat 87 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 289 51 47 carinegilson.com Chanel Brussels
Boulevard de Waterloolaan 63 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 511 20 59 Chanel Antwerp (at SN3)
Frankkrijklei 46-48 +32 (0) 3 231 08 20 2000 Antwerp chanel.be Chauncey (at Mapp)
Rue Léon Lepagestraat 5 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 551 17 67 Chauncey (at Houben)
Steenhouwersvest 46 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 227 42 10 chauncey.be Christophe Coppens
Rue Léon Lepagestraat 2 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 77 97 christophecoppens.com
Rue A. Dansaertstraat 74 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 03 13
Dries Van Noten (at Modepaleis)
Nationalsetraat 16 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 470 25 10 driesvannoten.be Elvis Pompilio
Rue Lebeaustraat 67 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 85 88 elvispompilio.com Jack O’Shea
Rue Le Titien 30 Titiaanstraat 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 732 5351 jackoshea.com Joseph Joseph (at Buss Jadoul)
Chaussée de Charleroi 18 Charleroisesteenweg 1060 Brussels +32 (0) 2 538 14 45 josephjoseph.com Habitat Brussels
Woluwe Shopping Center Rue Saint Lambertstraat 198 1020 Brussels +32 (0) 2 775 00 00
Beddenstraat 2 b44 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 205 12 40 habitat.be
Converse (at People)
Rue du Lombardstraat 14-18 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 502 18 01 converse.be
Haider Ackermann (at Stijl)
Rue A. Dansaertstraat 74 1000 Brussels + 32 (0) 2 512 03 13 haiderackermann.be
Damir Doma (at RA)
Kloosterstraat 13 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 292 37 80 damirdoma.com Dolce&Gabbana Brussels (at Francis Férent)
Boulevard de Waterloolaan 34 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 545 78 30 Dolce&Gabbana Antwerp (at Verso)
Lange Gasthuisstraat 11 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 226 92 92 dolcegabbana.com
Indress (at Balthazar)
Avenue Louise 294 Louizalaan 1050 Brussels +32 (0) 2 647 77 37 indress.net Jean Paul Knott
Boulevard Barthélémylaan 20 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 514 18 35 jeanpaulknott.com
Lancôme (at Ici Paris XL)
Rue Neuve 37 Nieuwstraat 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 219 22 07 Lancôme (at Planet Parfum)
De Keyserlei 34-36 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 234 07 01 lancome.be
Prada Brussels (at Francis Férent)
Boulevard de Waterloolaan 34 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 545 78 30 Prada Antwerp (at SN3)
Frankrijklei 46-48 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 231 08 20 prada.com
Louis Vuitton Brussels
Boulevard de Waterloolaan 59 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 289 28 29 Louis Vuitton Antwerp
Komedieplaats 14-16 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 212 12 12 louisvuitton.com
Maison Martin Margiela
Rue de Flandre 114 Vlaamse Steenweg 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 223 75 20 maisonmartinmargiela.com
Rajesh Pratap Singh (at Haleluja)
Place du Nouveau Marché aux Grains 6 Nieuwe Graanmarkt 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 513 42 50 pratap.ws Rue Blanche
Rue A. Dansaertstraat 39-41 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 481 50 81 rueblanche.be
Soki (at Beyond Fashion) Maison Michel (at Hunting and Collecting)
Rue des Chartreux 17 Kartuizerstraat 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 74 77
Maison Michel (at Louise 54)
Avenue Louise 54 Louizalaan 1050 Brussels +32 (0) 2 511 62 43 maison-michel.com Marni (at Louise 54)
Avenue Louise 54 Louizalaan 1050 Brussels +32 (0) 2 511 62 43
Pourbusstraat 7 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 237 85 41 Soki (at Rewind)
Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 44 9000 Ghent +32 (0) 9 324 84 04 soki.be Villeroy&Boch (at Buss Jadoul)
Chaussée de Charleroi 18 Charleroisesteenweg 1060 Brussels +32 (0) 2 538 14 45 villeroy-boch.com
Marni (at SN3)
Frankrijklei 46-48 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 231 08 20 marni.com
Mou (at Juliette Verlaine)
Rue du Pot d'Or 18/A 4000 Liège-Luik +32 (0) 4 232 41 41 mou-online.com
Mouton Collet (at Hunting and Collecting)
Rue des Chartreux 17 Kartuizerstraat 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 74 77 moutoncollet.com
Place Jean Jacobs 17 Jacobsplein 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 08 23 Avenue Louise 40 Louizalaan 1050 Brussels Wolford (Ghent)
Koestraat 19 9000 Ghent +32 (0) 9 224 25 08 wolfordshop.com Wouters&Hendrix Brussels
Places Georges Brugmann 16 Georges Brugmannplein 1050 Brussels Wouters&Hendrix Antwerp
Pamela Love (at Hunting and Collecting)
Rue des Chartreux 17 Kartuizerstraat 1000 Brussels +32 (0) 2 512 74 77 pamelalovenyc.com
Lange Gasthuisstraat 13B 2000 Antwerp +32 (0) 3 231 62 42 wouters-hendrix.com
Before we leave you… Play The team
Grey. It’s an in-betweener really. A ’neither here nor there’ kind of colour. It ain’t black, and it aint white either. It’s a mix. A clash of opposing worlds or the best of both worlds, depending on where you’re looking from. For us, grey has added relevance as the unofficial colour of Belgium. Indeed, the colour seems to seep-through every layers of local life, with the general mood pervading the country generally tilting towards perpetual grey tones. In a determined return to our roots imbued of a very special Belgian focus, here’s what you can expect of the grey album: Pigeon-feeding accounts Asphalt adventures Suburban grey zones Depression documentaries Government waste Shrimp fishing Touring tales It might not be our most uplifting edition ever, but it sure will be authentic.
The Word’s grey album ( + the fashion special )
Out Friday 3rd February 2012