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What’s on this week: 24-30 March

Laure Prouvost - Kanal-Centre Pompidou
08:00 23/03/2023
From new exhibitions to classical concerts celebrating the start of spring and a bunch of eclectic festivals, don’t miss our round-up of cultural activities and events

To mark the inauguration of artist Laure Prouvost’s large-scale installation on the exterior of the Kanal showroom, the public is invited to Join the Parade! Setting off from Place Sainte-Catherine, a marching band with majorettes and choir members from ‘Singing Molenbeek’ will wend their way to Kanal-Centre Pompidou in Sainctelette Square. The parade highlights inclusivity with banners showcasing Brussels-based French artist Prouvost’s floral and plant artwork bearing the message of a more positive future for all, We Belong. Her installation is on show for six months as part of the Façade series, an invitation to artists to decorate the landmark building and future art museum while it undergoes major renovation. 25 March from 16.00, city-centre


He’s famous as one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement, but the exhibition Victor Horta vs Art Nouveau: Horta’s Vocabulary shows the Belgian architect and designer in a different light. From the influence of his wife, Pauline Heyse, mentors, Balat and Viollet-le-Duc, inspirational travel to Egypt and Greece, and his admiration for buildings such as the Palace of Justice in Brussels, Horta was an extremely eclectic architect. This exhibition is part of Brussels’ year of Art Nouveau and includes many new objects and creations. 24 March to 8 January, Horta Museum, Rue Américaine 27 (Saint-Gilles)

Michel François 20_Contmination (pommes)

To celebrate his 40-year career, Bozar presents a retrospective of Belgian multimedia artist Michel François. In Contre nature, older pieces are placed in dialogue with new ones; six exhibition rooms each bear the name of recurring themes such as the fragility and beauty of living beings and the destructive forces exerted on them. Some installations were created within the Horta-designed arts centre, transforming the space into an extension of the artist’s studio. Varying artistic disciplines are employed, from installation and photography to sculpture and video. François, one of Belgium’s leaving contemporary artists, represented his country at the Venice Biennale (1999) with Ann Veronica Janssens. Until 21 July, Rue Ravenstein 23

Millenium Festival

It’s the 15th anniversary edition of the film festival based on the Sustainable Development Goals. The presence of human rights lawyer Stella Assange – wife of famed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – and Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei, who heads this year’s jury, shows how important the Millenium Festival has become. A couple of highlights are Oscar nominee All That Breathes (pictured), about the efforts of two brothers in New Delhi to save their city’s quickly disappearing bird of prey, and Bad Axe, the story of an Asian-American family trying to keep their restaurant afloat during a pandemic in Trump’s America. 26 March to 6 April, across Brussels


We dance wildly to electronic music, but do we really listen to it? Listen, the Brussels-wide urban music festival, invites you to (re)discover the diverse alt-electronic scene, with artists big and small from at home and abroad. There are talks, exhibitions and workshops mingled with concerts and DJ sets featuring house and techno, naturally, but also hip-hop, hyperpop and drum’n’bass. Derivatives abound, such as the sounds produced by Emily Jeanne here, who stitches together Ambient, broken beat and drone. 29 March to 2 April, across Brussels

Digital Spring

Curious about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and other new digital initiatives? Head to Digital Spring, which showcases a range of digital initiatives, including AI applications and an eco-friendly ‘computer of the future’ aimed at improving the lives of Brussels residents. This year's theme is ‘digital in the air’, giving an opportunity to discover cameras, sensors and drones. Some 40 exhibitors offer diverse activities, including talks, educational workshops, demonstrations and more. The event is aimed at all audiences: fans of everything digital, young people who want to make their own video games and visitors who are simply keen to learn more about the digital sector. The initiative is organised by and Paradim, the region’s ICT partner (free entry). 24 & 25 March, Reset, Rue de Ligne 8

European Union choir

There’s more going on in the bubble than white papers and trilogues … attend the European Union Choir’s spring concert to discover the artistic talents of our EU tribe. With the choir celebrating its 65th year of performing across Europe with major orchestras, the 90-strong vocal group is joined by the Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles and several soloists for its annual spring concert. On the programme is Fauré’s Requiem and the Saint-Saëns Requiem. 25 March 20.00, Royal Conservatory, Rue de la Regence 30

Brussels choral society

Vivaldi’s much loved choral masterpiece Gloria is a perfect composition to herald the start of the spring. Brussels Choral Society and Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles perform the multi-movement work for their spring concert with conductor Eric Dielson and sopranos Sarah van Mol and Dagmara Dobrawolska. Completing the programme are Haydn’s Te Deum, a world premiere of Tom Cunningham’s Cantata for Peace and the European premiere of another new work, You through me by Alex Berko. 26 March 16.00, Royal Conservatory, Rue de la Regence 30

Mimis SHEBEEN ©Malkia Mutiri

Rooted in Irish, the term shebeen is now used around the world for an underground bar where liquor is made and sold illegally. They are traditionally run by women who are known – wonderfully – as Shebeen Queens. This concept is at the heart of Mimi’s Shebeen, a dance-theatre production focused on the many shebeens (and queens) in South Africa during Apartheid. They served as both social and political havens for the opposition, embodied by exiled singer and activist Miriam Makeba (the titular Mimi). (In multiple languages, with surtitles in English, French and Dutch) Until 1 April, KVS Bol, Rue de Laeken 146


Literary festival Passa Porta continues this weekend with its busy programme of talks, workshops, performances, guided tours and film screenings. Star guest is Nobel Prize winner, the French writer Annie Ernaux, who is joined by a flight of other top authors to inspire international audiences. They include New Zealand Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton (pictured above), the Belorussian writer and journalist Sasha Filipenko, Norwegian novelist Victoria Kielland and South Korean writer Sang Young Park. Until 26 March, multiple venues 


For its final weekend, the Banad Festival heads to Schaerbeek, Saint-Josse, Etterbeek and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert to unveil new and familiar architectural treasures. Among the sites open to the public for the first time are the Art Deco Homem de Macedo in Avenue Deschanel, the Art Nouveau Van Waesberghe house in Square Gutenberg, Quaker House in Square Ambiorix and Hôtel Van Eetvelde in Avenue Palmerston. Art Deco beauties include Maison Overloop in the Linthout quarter and Maison de Roy in Avenue Albert Jonnart. The festival closes in Golden Age style with a cabaret evening celebrating the roaring twenties on Sunday. Hosted by the brasserie De Ultieme Hallucinatie in Saint-Josse (pictured above), the fabulous former Hôtel Cohn-Donnay has conserved many of its Art Nouveau features, from a geometric bow window to interior decoration that alludes to the Glasgow school and Viennese influences as well as Art Deco. 25 & 26 March, multiple locations in the city

Las Lloronas

Brosella Spring Festival spreads rhythmic joy over the weekend with performances by top Belgian jazz and urban world music artists. The festival features new releases, workshops and previews plus a Sunday brunch. On the programme are Belgian jazz drummer and composer Stéphane Galland (on Saturday) and eclectic Spanish trio Las Lloronas (pictured) with their mix of folklore, fado, blues slam and klezmer music (on Sunday). Until 26 March, La Vallée, Rue A Lavallée 39 (Molenbeek)


Londoner and Brussels resident, David Labi, takes to the stage for his one-man show Pieces of a Man to relate the story of his late father Marcello. A Libyan-Italian Jew who survived the Holocaust as a child, Marcello embarked on a rollercoaster of a life, bringing pain, joy and trauma to those around him. The show explores questions of identity, persecution, migration and ultimately liberty, with Labi performing a gripping and laugh-out-loud tragicomic monologue. The storyteller also stages his show at two different venues in Antwerp on 26 and 28 March. 27 March 20.00, Pianofabriek, Rue du Fort 35 (Saint-Gilles)


With thousands in Turkey and Syria still in need of urgent assistance following February’s disasters, Bozar and Klarafestival are staging a Solidarity Concert for Earthquake Victims. The benefit evening features internationally-renowned Turkish pianist and composer Fazıl Say (pictured), who will perform a recital with mezzo-soprano Serenad Bağcan. All proceeds donated to the Consortium 12-12 organisation. 26 March 20.30, Rue Ravenstein 23

BWC spring market

Looking for great bargains and original gifts? Head to the Brussels Women's Club Spring Market on Saturday. You'll find home-made cakes, marmalades and jams, hand-made jewellery and crafts, brocante, plants and garden items, books (adult & children) and Easter decorations. The club’s will be serving refreshments. If you’re looking to connect with other English-speaking women living in and around Brussels, join this month's Clubhouse Coffee on 28 March for complimentary tea, coffee and home-made cake.  25 March10.00-14.00 (spring market); 28 March 10.00-12.00 (clubhouse house), BWC Clubhouse, Rue au Bois 509 (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)


Marathi Mandal

Join the Indian new year festivities when Belgium Marathi Mandal celebrates 2023 on Sunday. Music, dance and of course delicious food prepared by the Indian community from the state of Maharashtra. Kids’ craft activities are among the cultural programme. Entrance tickets include food box (€20 over 12s; €10 five to 12). 26 March 14.00-18.00, Gemeenschapcentrum, De Maalderij Walenhof 17, Zaventem

Courtisane (c)Trinh T Minh-ha

Belgium is not short on video art exhibitions nor film festivals, but Courtisane is the only one that combines them in equal measure. It’s experimental cinema, with work that may or may not be narrative but deliver messages nonetheless. A theme this year is voyages – the leaving, journey and subsequent wanderings that can affect the rest of our lives. “Every voyage is the unfolding of a poetic,” says Trinh T Minh-ha, one of the artists in focus on the programme. She would know: She crossed oceans on her flight from war-torn Vietnam to the United States. 29 March to 2 April, across Ghent


What started in New York is now an international phenomenon: Blueprint takes in all manner of hip-hop culture, from music to fashion to dance. The four-day programme includes an exhibition by Polaroid portrait photographer Elisabeth Ouni (pictured); White Space, a multi-media performance in which Antwerp-based musician Youniss explores being a black man with an Arabic name in the Western world; and Charlotte De Cort’s film Ungodly, about a hip-hop artist who loses touch with his community, a screening infused with spoken word and music. 30 March to 2 April, deSingel, Desguinlei 25, Antwerp

RGB_Beth Ditto, Stand and Deliver, Dazed & Confused, Vol 2, Issue 73, 2009 ©Rankin (1)

Showcasing over 200 images from the magazine’s archive, the exhibition Rankin: The Dazed Decades offers a deep dive into popular culture through the prism of the iconic British fashion and culture publication. Co-founder Ian Rankin also served as its first photographic editor, thereby setting the visual tone. The show is divided into sections that invite visitors to explore its international influence and reveals Rankin’s unapologetically commercial approach to fashion, while not shirking from revealing the less glamourous side to the industry (pictured, US singer-songwriter Beth Ditto). 25 March to 11 June, Scharpoord Cultural Centre, Maxim Willemspad 1, Knokke-Heist

GuiHome vous détend

Comedy festival Namur is a Joke transforms the Walloon capital into a barrel of laughs this weekend, highlighting its diverse, rich and unifying culture. Organised by comedian GuiHome vous détend (pictured), the second edition features comedians from across Wallonia and Brussels, along with francophone musicians and singers. It promises an exceptional programme of over 40 shows, with well-known headliners appearing alongside up-and-coming comedians performing in multiple venues, including some unusual locations! Until 26 March, venues across Namur

Photos: Portrait Victor Horta ©Francois Schuiten; Contaminations ©Michel François; Mimis SHEBEEN ©Malkia Mutiri; Hotel Cohn-Donnay © Explore.Brussels - Ph Sophie Voituron; Catton Eleanor ©Murdo-Macleod; Courtisane ©Trinh T Minh-haRGB_Beth Ditto, Stand and Deliver, Dazed & Confused ©Rankin


Written by Sarah Crew, Lisa Bradshaw, Damien Maguire