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What’s on this week: 23-29 October

15:06 23/10/2020
After this article was published, all Brussels cultural venues were ordered to close from 26 October until 19 November. Most of the events below are therefore postponed. Check venue websites for further updates

La Monnaie has to completely re-orchestrate the production of Die Tote Stadt to bring it down to 57 musicians and less than two hours to avoid the need for an intermission. Reason enough to reward the opera house by buying a ticket to the stylish psychological thriller. Another reason is that it’s the 100th anniversary of the opera by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who based it on the book Bruges-la-Morte, the story of a man obsessed with a dancer who resembles his dead wife. Finally, it’s a brand new production, courtesy Polish director Mariusz Trelinski. Until 13 November, Place de la Monnaie 5

Bringing together art and contemporary design, the Brussels Design Museum gives carte blanche to Greek design duo Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis. The pair, who split their time between studios in Athens and New York, have created the unique installation Standing Stones – dreamy inflatable figures reinterpreting the Cycladic civilisation during the Bronze Age. Until 17 January, Place de Belgique

The spring edition of the twice-yearly festival Pilar ASAP had to cancelled, but a corona-proof autumn edition is back at VUB’s House for Art & Science. Everyone is invited to The Fluid Identity Edition, with exhibitions, debate, workshops and concerts all dedicated to the many selves inside each one of us. Events are free or cheap, spoken events are in Dutch or English. Until 12 November, Boulevard du Triomphe, VUB entrance 6, Building Y

Ghost from Coudenberg Murder Mystery

It’s nearly Halloween, and while stupid corona will curtail many celebrations, you and your kids can safely play the Coudenburg Murder Mystery Game. In the cellar ruins of the old palace, you must solve a murder that happened 500 years ago. Don’t dodge the ghosts because they have the clues you need – and time is short. Open to everyone 12; bring your smartphone or tablet for QR code scanning 30 October, Place Royale 10

Négar Djavadi’s debut novel, Disoriental, catapulted the Iranian-French novelist into the spotlight, winning international awards with its translations in 10 languages. She comes to Brussels to talk about her new book, Arène, in which Paris is being torn apart by social inequality, as lost children, refugees, politicians and police cross paths while never really meeting. (In French) 28 October 20.30, Passa Porta, Rue Antoine Dansaert 46

The AB concert hall has cleverly named its autumn season ABnormal, referencing the strange times in which we live and its adherence to coronavirus measures at its show. Ticket sales are brisk for the line-up of mostly locals acts, but there are still tickets to some great gigs this week, including the An Pierlé Quartet and Liesa Van der Aa’s funky jazz.

Chocolate sculpture at Train World

While many of us are avoiding taking the train right now, would you be so keen to do so if it were made of chocolate? Commuter breakfasts would never be the same. Train World invites your imagination to run wild with Choco Loco, which puts chocolate sculptures in among the permanent exhibition. All the sculptures are inspired by the railways, and while you cannot eat them, you can buy the brand new chocolate bar developed by two of Belgium’s famed chocolatiers, Dominque Persoone and Pierre Marcolini – their first collaboration. Until 21 February, Place Princesse Elisabeth 5 (Schaerbeek)

Did you know that the waffles you buy at tourist hotspots are actually sucky compared to the ones you can make yourself? Learn how at the Waffle Workshop, which takes place in English literally every day. You can bake as many waffles as you can eat, and there are toppings and stuff. I know, right? Every day 14.00-15.30, Rue des Foulons 30

Still from the film Victoria

In honour of the German presidency of the Council of the European Union, the local chapter of the Goethe Institute is hosting a selection of films from the Berlinale Forum. That’s the section of the Berlin Film Festival that features movies that stretch the boundaries of what cinema is supposed to be and open up fresh perspectives on how it relates to the world. The programme includes films from this year’s edition as well as from 1971, the year the Berlinale began. Until 25 October, Cinema Galeries, Galerie de la Reine 26, and Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

BOOK NOW: Hands Do Not Touch Your Precious Me  If you are at all familiar with the work of Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus, you will know why you should snap up tickets to his new production, Hands Do Not Touch Your Precious Me. Vandekeybus’s works are not simple dance performances, they are dramatic stories with distinct messages, weird underground worlds and mythical tales of transformation. Here he collaborates with composer Charo Calvo and French visual artist Olivier de Sagazan to create a world in which bodies balance like fleshy sculptures between the utopian and the gruesome. Take our word for it and check it out. 21-28 November, KVS, Quai aux Pierres de Taille 7

“The Bridge” by Victor Burgin

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS (The following events are still going ahead, as they are outside the Brussels region)

The way human bodies were photographed altered dramatically in the 1970s, when they were starting to be seen not as fixed and unalterable but works in progress where representation, identity and male/female relationship were all up for negotiation. This ushered in a new kind of staged photography, which took a break from merely reproducing reality to dramatising and fictionalising the possibilities. Staged Bodies at UCLouvain’s Musée L features the most striking examples of this transition and what it meant to societies surrounded by images. Until 24 January, Place des Sciences 3, Louvain-la-Neuve

How is your marriage faring 15, 20 or 30 years later? That’s one of the subtle questions behind the exhibition Side by Side, in which British expat photographer Jessica Hilltout took shots of couples at the Bautersemhof grounds in Zandhoven on the exact same spot as they were photographed on their wedding day. The historical site is a popular backdrop for marrying couples, and the history of their decades-long journey is written in their faces in this intriguing open-air exhibition, with the photos mounted precisely where they were taken. Until 31 October, Boutersemdreef 15, Zandhoven (Antwerp province)

Photos, from top: ©Simon Van Rompay/La Monnaie, courtesy Coudenberg Palace, courtesy Train World, courtesy Bozar, ©Victor Burgin, “The Bridge”, 1984, private collection

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Sarah Crew