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Brussels, I Love You is back with art and food across the capital
The Brussels, I Love You gallery crawl had to postpone from its original date because of coronavirus measures, but is back now, better than ever.
The event Brussels, I Love You – affectionately known as BILY – reminds us that, while we might get a kick out of complaining about Belgium’s capital city, we are quick to defend it should anyone from outside do so. Because while it might be human nature to air our grievances, we also know what a cool and beautiful place Brussels can be.
The city punches above its weight when it comes to culture in general, and its plethora of art galleries is no different. BILY, which launches on 29 May, wants you to pop into them one by one, discovering the capital as you go.
“The goal of BILY is to get people to explore the city of Brussels, to discover new cultural places, to be adventurous, to fall in love with the city,” says Eleonora Antico, an Italian expat who works for BILY. “We are trying to make cultural spots as accessible as possible.”
Marwa Arsanios's 'Who is Afraid of Ideology?' at La Loge (c)Courtesy of the artist and La Loge, photo by Lola Pertsowsky
So BILY offers a walking map to the galleries, which are spread all across the capital. Whether you choose your own neighbourhood and enter spaces you never have before or choose a completely unfamiliar neighbourhood, you’ll see something new.
“BILY also includes museums,” says Antico. “This year the Art et Marges museum in Marolles is taking part. And new this year are artists’ studios, with artists opening up their workspaces to the public.”
One of those artists is Christopher Coppers, whose work can be as political as it is crowd-pleasing. In one of his most recent international exhibitions he created sculptures of animals out of spend rifle bullets. He is best known, however, for his intricate works made from old magazines and books, transforming them into striking designs that do not resemble the raw material at all.
Anais Gaudemer of the celebrated Cokoa patisserie in Ixelles is one of the chefs contributing to BILY’s culinary experience
One theme that runs through BILY this year is the place of women in the arts – as subject, artist, gallery owner and curator. Many galleries have shows dedicated to women artists, including the Nino Mier Gallery, which is featuring Los Angeles artist Mindy Shapero. The works in her show, Lost in Space, recall black holes and yet are gleefully colourful, created by pasting gold and silver leaf one on top of another (pictured, top). Over at La Loge, Reclaiming Places is a group show telling the story of indigenous peoples claims to their land in a habitually changing world.
All this exploring would make anyone a little hungry, but you don’t have to pack your own sandwich: BILY has a foodie side to it as well. The chef’s walk, explains Antico, “is a culinary experience. This is the sixth edition of BILY, so we have six local chefs who offer little dishes in six of the galleries.”
In keeping with coronavirus regulations, the morsels are boxed up for visitors to take-away. Some of the dishes have been created in collaboration with the gallery and reflect it or its exhibitions in one way or another. Others are simply original creations by the chef.
You won’t find the list of galleries hosting chefs on the website, so let us clue you in: Chefs are handing out delicacies at La Patinoire Royale and La Forest Divonne in Saint-Gilles, Spazio Nobile in Ixelles and Mier Gallery and Art22 in Brussels-City.
BILY and the associated bites are free to visitors. “We really invite everyone to this new edition of BILY,” says Antico, “and we are also very glad that we can support the cultural and the catering sectors in this difficult time.”
BILY takes place across Brussels from 29 May to 5 June
Photo top: Mindy Shapero, 'Scar of Midnight Portal', 2021, courtesy Nino Mier Gallery