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What’s on this week: 1-7 June

13:40 31/05/2018
Our top picks of culture and activities in and around Brussels

It’s the third outing for Pop Up The Jam, a super cool music/art event at the Jam hotel. The business turns over all of its rooms to contemporary artists and DJs, and visitors are invited to wander around, grooving to the tunes and chatting with artists at will. On the roof are concerts, while the cellar houses tattoo artists, breakdancers, bike battles and a skateboard exhibition. Oh, and there’s morning yoga on the fifth floor terrace. Entry is free. 1-3 June, Jam , Chaussée de Charleroi 132 (Saint-Gilles)

Brussels Cocktail Week is technically in September, but organisers couldn’t let all this warm weather go to waste. So this Saturday, you can let loose to the beats of DJs and crushed ice as Tap My Cocktail takes to Place Royale. DJ ReeDoo and Kwak from the Strictly Niceness parties will provide the soundtracks for the imbibing of cocktails, beer and soft drinks under the June sun. 2 June 14.00-22.00, BIP, Place Royale 2

Rachel Kushner dissects the complex issues within the US prison system in her latest novel, The Mars Room, which she’ll discuss with the audience at Passa Porta. Compared to Orange is the New Black, the novel follows Romy Hall as she serves two consecutive life sentences in a California women’s state penitentiary. This is Kushner’s third book, arriving after her best-seller, The Flamethrowers. (In English) 6 June 20.00, Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 46

Whiskey tasting

Whether it’s whiskey, rum, tequila, sake, gin or something else, find your summer spirit of choice at the Belgian Whiskey and Spirits Festival. Sample the wares of over 50 distilleries from around the world, including Tito’s Vodka, Belgian Owl and Jean Fillioux. The festival will also host masterclasses for those interested in learning more on how a specific spirit is produced. 1-3 June, Autoworld, Parc du Cincquantenaire 11

The recent protests in Armenia that led to the downfall of the government and a new prime minister are the icing on the cake of 2018, the centenary of the First Republic of Armenia. Events are being launched around the world in recognition of the country’s declaration of independence in May 1918. The Brussels-based European chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union has partnered up with the Boghassian Foundation for two concerts at the gorgeous Villa Empain. A piano trio will play Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and Babajanian in the venerable estate’s Ceremonial Hall, while the Yessai Karapetyan Trio will jazz up the courtyard. 2-3 June, Villa Empain, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67

 Jephan de Villiers

The Wittockiana Library isn’t really a library at all, but a museum devoted to fine bookbinding. If they are to be believed, it is the only such museum in the world. Among its regular workshops and talks are temporary exhibitions. This summer, Jephan de Villiers’ drawings are on display, though he might prefer to call them a language, or a dance. The French artist says that every symbol put to paper has a whole series of movements behind it, as well as being influenced by other factors – the weight of the pen, the kind of paper, the shape of the hand. His world of symbols is delightful, and a refreshing change from both text and art of the computer age. Until 16 September, Bibliotheca Wittockiana, Rue du Bemel 23 (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)

Dietmar Eberle, a founding member of Germany’s award-winning architectural firm Baumschlager Eberle, will discuss design and the advancement of architectural quality at the next event in the Lunch with an Architect series. Eberle’s firm designed the Vienna Airport and has 10 locations in Europe and Asia. Attendees under 30 can apply for a discount on the fee, which includes lunch. Certificates for training purposes are also available upon request. 4 June, 12.00-14.00, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix  


Partially based in Brussels, American choreographer Meg Stuart is originally from New Orleans, and the devastating flood that inundated the iconic city helped inform her production Blessed, which she created with Portuguese dancer Francisco Camacho in mind. It won much praise and attention for its use of water – which falls down like rain on a cardboard set, destroying everything Camacho holds dear. The question she keeps asking is: When your entire world falls apart, how to you react? How do you keep the faith? How do you keep going? And do you face a new reality or live in denial? This weekend, Camacho will perform Blessed for the 100th time. 1-2 June 20.30, Kaaitheater, Sainctelettesquare 20

Don’t have time to make the 1,700 kilometre pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela this year? We have good news for you: Galician cultural centre La Tentation hosts its third annual Festival Compostela this weekend. Galician culture, folklore and gastronomy are on the menu, and there’s also a procession, with 300 dancers and musicians. It’s all free and happens in and around La Tentation. 2 June, Place du Béguinage & Rue de Laeken 28

 Portrait of Elisabeth of France by Frans Pourbus the Younger


In 2018, the Sint-Augustinus Church – one of Antwerp’s best examples of the dramatic embellishments that baroque architecture entailed – turns 400 years old. Amuz, which hosts concerts of classical and new music, now calls the church home. The exterior façade belies what concert-goers see upon stepping inside: an opulent early baroque chapel with arched columns, gold leaf, intricate reliefs and row upon row of paintings. The port city has chosen the auspicious birthday of this protected monument to host Antwerp Baroque 2018: Rubens Inspires, a months-long festival celebrating baroque and its founding father in the low countries. It’s got a little of everything, from concerts to theatre to street art to a site-specific exhibition by hometown boy Jan Fabre right in Sint-Augustinus, where Rubens, van Dycke and Jordaens once decorated the walls. 1 June to 16 December, across Antwerp

Tourist season has official started, so Liège province has re-opened one of its most interesting tours: the Blegny Mine. A former coal mine, the site is Unesco-protected World Heritage. For good reason – it’s history is fascinating, as it was first mined by monks in the 16th century. Everyone gets a hard hat and a torch for the 60-metre descent, and the tour package includes a visit to the permanent exhibition and the slag heap biotope. The whole things takes about 3.5 hours and is available in multiple languages. Until 30 November, Blegny Mine, Blégney (Liège province)

Ghent’s Sint-Pieters Abbey has gotten itself a bit of a coup: the first exhibition of work by Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez in Belgium. The photographer is better known as Korda, but even if you still don’t recognise the name, you know his work. On 5 March 1960, Korda took one of the most iconic images the world has ever known: a portrait of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Found on T-shirts, backpacks and keychains the world over, it was just one of many shots of Guevara that Korda took when working for the Cuban newspaper Revolución. But he shot a never-ending array of other subjects, as Korda: Beauty and Revolution illustrates, from Havana nightlife to sultry models. Until 19 August, Sint-Pieters Abbey, Sint-Pietersplein 9, Ghent

Photos: Pop up the Jam/courtesy Facebook, Spirits Festival/courtesy BWSF, Wittockiana/Jephan de Villiers, Blessed/Chris Van der Burght, Antwerp Baroque/Portrait of Elisabeth of France by Frans Pourbus the Younger/photo by Ans Brys

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Hannah Rodriguez