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What’s on this week: 18-24 January

12:47 17/01/2019
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Brussels Expo is never more bustling than during the annual Brussels Motor Show. It’s the 97th edition of the event that finds nearly all brands of cars sold in Europe gathered in one space. See the latest models – including of trucks, recreation vehicles, motorcycles and work vans – and even discover some deals that might have you signing on the dotted line. Special events include a celebration of the Tour de France, which starts in Brussels this year – Eddy Merckx will be signing autographs –activities for kids and a ‘pit stop bar’. 19-27 January, Brussels Expo, Place de la Belgique 1

Cinematek’s Silver Screen programme presents gems of cinema history until the end of February. This week it continues with Ettore Giannini’s 1954 musical Neapolitan Carousel, featuring Sophia Loren in a history of three centuries of Naples via song and dance – and lots of it. (In Italian with French and Dutch subtitles) 24 January 15.00, Cinematek, 9 Rue Baron Horta

Chinese New Year is around the corner, and Bozar is celebrating with 3,000 years of music from the period known as the Middle Kingdom. Conducted by Pang Kapang, the 80 musicians of the Suzhou Chinese Orchestra will usher you into the Year of the Pig with style. 21 January 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

"Michael Jackson" by Sam McKinniss

New York painter Sam McKinniss has won plaudits around the world for his portraits of celebrities, all based on photographs and, he says, ‘internet culture’. His work seems to swing between laughing at how serious social media takes itself and trying to immortalise a certain time and place. Mixed in with them at this solo show in Brussels are some lovely flowers and still-lifes, another attempt to bring an art form some have relegated to the past back into vogue. Until 28 February, Almine Rech Gallery, Rue de l’Abbaye 20 (Ixelles)

Everyone is invited to the seminars hosted by the Brussels Imagination Club, which are always in English. This week’s topic has the potential to speak to many: Andy Whittle of Fear and Fail Brussels presents Challenge Your Fears, an exploration of what drives you to do the things you do and stops you from doing the things you could, but don’t. Registration required. 23 January 18.45-21.00, Timesmore, Boulevard St Michel 47 (Etterbeek)

Catch the revival of Brussels-based choreographer Meg Stuart’s Built to Last – with five costume-changing performers traveling through the history of dance – this Sunday and get a free workshop for your child aged four to 12 at the same time. Free child-care for kids under four. Red alert: Only a few tickets left. 20 January 15.00, Kaaitheater, Square Sainctelette 20

Afua Hirsch

Kaaitheater has always been a thinking person’s cultural venue, hence a healthy number of debates and talks on current affairs and philosophies are found in its main hall and in its smaller one, Kaaistudio’s. In the latter is where you’ll  find Afua Hirsch, star of this week’s entry in a series of talks on authenticity. The British author and activist will lay bare Europe’s – and especially the UK’s – identity crisis, topics explored in her book Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. (In English) 21 January 20.30, Kaaistudio’s, Rue Notre Dame du Sommeil 81

As marches for the climate and for refugees make their way through Brussels, and the ‘yellow vests’ continue to take to the streets, there’s no denying that a whiff of revolution hangs in the air. See how this one done in the late 1960s in Revolutions: Records and Rebels, an exhibition dedicated to a period of upheaval in every possible area of life. Until 10 March, ING Art Center, Place Royal 6

English Comedy Brussels presents an inspired pairing of UK-based stand-ups: 40-something Glenn Wool, who uses his gravelly voice like a sledgehammer, and the significantly higher-pitched 20-something Lauren Pattison, who relates the wonders and woes of being a young woman in the 21st century. 22 January 20.00, The Black Sheep, Chaussée de Boondael 8 (Ixelles)

While expats often complain about their adopted home (ahem), they also have a special bond with it that is different from the locals. The exhibition Magasin Général: A Quebec Symphony is dedicated to the six graphic volumes created by two French illustrators who call Quebec home. Magasin Général is dedicated to the ordinary, hard-working people, both rural and urban, who make up this unique province of Canada. Until 10 March, Comic Strip Center, Rue des Sables 20

Gurshad Shaheman


It’s an interesting weekend at Théâtre de Liège as French-Iranian performance artist Gurshad Shaheman takes the stage for his three-part show Pourama Pourama. Recounting his youth spent with a stern father and a mother who would eventually flee with him to France, he lives up to his insistence that art is both testimony and perception and that theatre is a full sensory experience. (In French) 17-19 January, Théâtre de Liège, Place du 20-Août 16

If you’re not keen to face the strong winds and wild sea of the Belgian coast in the winter, here’s something that will keep you warm and cosy inside – inside people’s homes. Chambres d’O is a living room festival, with performances taking place inside Ostend houses both big and small. Buy a ticket online then create your own programme of music, theatre, dance, literature and even exhibitions. Reserve a spot at each performance ahead of time to avoid disappointment. 26-27 January, across Ostend

Photos: Brussels Motor Show courtesy Febiac / “Michael Jackson” by Sam McKinniss (detail), courtesy of the artist and Almine Rech Gallery, photo by Matt Kroening / Afua Hirsch courtesy Kaaitheater / Gurshad Shaheman ©Jeremy Meysen

Written by Lisa Bradshaw