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What’s on this week: 15-21 May

15:10 14/05/2020
The museums are back!

Good news: Many museums in Belgium will open next week, as the measures put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus continue to be relaxed. Some temporary exhibitions that were on in March are still on now, while others have launched brand new exhibitions.

Bozar has extended several exhibitions that were running when it closed, including the marvellous Keith Haring retrospective, Venice Biennale transplant Mondo Cane and a reflection on the work of the late Croatian architect Vjenceslav Richter. New is a retrospective of work by Brussels artist Jacqueline Mesmaeker. She only broke into visual and multi-media arts when she was in her 40s and remains active today at more than 90 years of age. Ah, Quelle Aventure! illustrates her literary and cinematic sensibilities, including experimental video work (pictured above). All exhibitions: 19 May to 21 July, Rue Ravenstein 23


Autoworld is bursting out of the starting gate with the new exhibition Supercars. Gaze in wonder at some of the most prestigious sports cars ever imported to Belgium, such as the BMW i8 Spyder Special Edition, the Ferrari Enzo and the Lamborghini Aventador. These and several more are given pride of place on three podia on the ground floor. 18 May to 28 June, Parc du Cinquantenaire 11

"Boy" by Ruud Van Empel

The Hangar Photo Art Center is celebrating its reopening with a retrospective of Dutch photographer Ruud van Empel, whose striking digital constructions have made him famous the world over. His intricate collage process delivers images that seem magical, nearly cartoon-like, and in which people and nature come together, sometimes organically and sometimes jarringly. This major exhibition contains 90 of his work created over the last 25 years. Many of them have become iconic. 19 May to 18 July, Place du Chatelain 18 (Ixelles)

And the online offer continues for those looking to fill those long evenings…

Film still from Etangs Noir

The timing couldn’t be better for the launch of Avila, a new movie streaming service. Three Belgian filmmakers and a producer hand-pick auteur and art-house cinema. The idea is to give quality world cinema an outlet where it won’t be drowned out by the massive offer on bigger streaming sites. Avila will feature fiction, documentary and experimental films and is starting off with 25 from Belgium. There are classics like Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and Suzanne’s Fugue but also more recent flicks such as A Sea Change, a documentary about the maritime boarding school in Ostend, and Étangs Noir, in which a young man becomes obsessed with delivering a package to its rightful owner (pictured). Movies can be rented for €3.50, are available to watch for three days, and all of them come with subtitles in English, French or Dutch.

Film still from Ghost Tropic

Cannes Film Festival was meant to start this week. Alas. To ease the pain somewhat, film distributor Lumière has added six Belgian titles to its Ciné chez vous streaming service that all premiered at Cannes at some point in the past. Highly recommended are Girl, about a transgender teenager’s quest to become a ballerina, and Ghost Tropic (pictured), in which a Muslim woman falls asleep on the metro and must walk across late-night Brussels to get home. The special selections are available to view between 15 May and 1 June.


Land of the cold

Animal parks are also allowed to re-open next week, and Pairi Daiza has a whole new world to visit this year. The Land of the Cold represents the park’s single largest investment ever, and it shows: More than four hectares of walking paths, animals and architecture over multiple levels reflect wintry tundras and seas. Meet polar bears, walruses and Siberian tigers and learn why they are endangered in a multimedia exhibition. Land of the Cold also comes with a new hotel experience: Underwater rooms have windows where you can actually watch the polar bears swimming. But they can’t open those up quite yet. Note: Like in other zoos in Belgium, tickets will only be sold online in advance. The first few days are reserved for season ticket holders. Day tickets will go on sale sometime between 19 and 23 May
Domaine de Cambron, Brugelette (Hainaut)

Photos, from top: ‘Peggy & JM’ ©Jacqueline Mesmaeker; courtesy; ‘Boy’ (cropped) by Ruud van Empel, courtesy Hangar, Brussels; courtesy Ghent Film Festival; courtesy Ghent Film Festival; courtesy Pairi Daiza

Written by Lisa Bradshaw