'Festival fever' in the performing arts (and elsewhere). A panel discussion with Pieter De Buysser, Charlotte De Somviele, Guy Gypens, Liv Laveyne and Karel Vanhaesebrouck, moderated by Rudi Laermans & Dirk Pültau

 In recent times the number of arts festivals seems to have increased spectacularly, in the arts in general and in the performing arts in particular. This observation is the starting point for a panel discussion between five people active in the field of the performing arts in Flanders, Belgium. Why are festivals so popular? Why are they so often connected with a discourse on 'political commitment'? What are the advantages of this tendency towards 'festivalization' and what are its disadvantages?


arts festivals – performing arts


Henk Roose — The relation between culture and politics: a quarter century of research on 'cultural omnivores'

This text discusses a type of cultural consumer commonly called the 'cultural omnivore', a concept introduced by American sociologist Richard Peterson in the early nineties. The term refers to a particular cultural appreciation profile emerging in the late 20th century, characterized by an increased breadth of cultural taste and a willingness to cross established hierarchical cultural genre boundaries. By way of introduction Roose first discusses two older sociological paradigms of cultural consumers, the first based on the opposition between elite and mass culture (e.g. Frankfurter Schule, American mass society theorists), the second based on an empirical approach of cultural preferences, as exemplified by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Roose then discusses Peterson's findings and theory on 'cultural omnivorousness' and subsequently considers more recent literature that elaborates on his insights.


Pieter T'Jonck – Why is 'live art' so popular?

During the last ten years, museums and art institutions have shown a growing interest in 'performance' or 'live arts', in different forms: re-enactments of historical performances, documentary exhibitions on performance, commissions of 'live works' and so on. Not only visual artists with a performative practice (like Vito Acconci), but also choreographers and dancers are presenting work in a museum context. Why do art institutions program such kind of work? What 'institutional desire' is at stake here? This question is the connecting thread in T'Jonck's essay, in which he makes use of texts and reflections by Dorothea von Hantelmann and Chris Dercon. Next to this text two interviews by T'Jonck are published, one with Eva Wittocx and one with Katleen Van Langendonck, curators of the performance festivals Playground (Louvain) and Performatik (Brussels) respectively.

'live art' – museum policy – performance


Eric Bracke – From Palace of Fine Arts to BOZAR. Piet Coessens and Paul Dujardin on the pivotal moment of the years 2001-2002

Piet Coessens was director of the 'Vereniging voor Tentoonstellingen' [Association for Exhibitions] of the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels) from 1992 to 2002. In 2002 he was dismissed by the new director of the PBA, Paul Dujardin (2001-). In this contribution, Bracke reports on the reminiscences of both Coessens and Dujardin upon this turbulent transition period and on the artistic policies they developed in the Palais des Beaux-Arts.

Art institutes – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels


Koen Brams – 't stuc stuk. A review of the book STUK, een geschiedenis 1977-2015

This is a review of Marleen Brock's book STUK, een geschiedenis 1977-2015 [STUK, a history 1977-2015] on the history of the art institute STUK, based in Louvain. Brams criticizes the book for its thematic approach, which fails to do justice to the complexity of the history of STUK and the multiple relations it maintained with the student movement, the university and fellow institutes in the cultural field. He also denounces the author for a lack of scholarly independence – the book was commissioned by the current director of STUK Steven Vandervelden, whose policy it praises extensively.


history of art institutes – stuc/STUK, Louvain


Michiel Vandevelde – The possibilities of a 'dissolving' arts field

In this text Vandervelde reflects on the possibilities of art practices in a postdisciplinary context characterized by 'festivalisation' and a growing experience economy. He stands up for initiatives that create 'spaces in between' and point to possibilities for reconceptualising our relation to this 21st century condition.

art festivals – interdisciplinarity – postdisciplinarity


Sébastien Hendrickx — Under and above the radar. Marnix Rummens on the festivals organized by workspacebrussels

Marnix Rummens is the former co-ordinator of workspacebrussels, a space for artistic development. In this interview Sébastien Hendrickx talks with Rummens about the festival activities of workspacebrussels and Rummens' recent dismissal.


interdisciplinarity – performance – workspacebrussels (Brussels)


Daniël Rovers – Notes on looking at looking at art (during Documenta 14)

This essay starts from the observation of visitors to the exhibition Documenta 14 to reflect on the activity of viewing art exhibits in the recent past and today.


Documenta 14 – observer – reception history