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What’s on this week: 8-14 March

11:26 07/03/2019
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

“One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought.” That’s just one of many moral quandaries in Mary Shelley’s famous tale Frankenstein, now turned into a grand opera with its world premiere at La Monnaie this weekend. It’s the talk of the European opera world at the moment, particularly as the new English-language production by American composer Mark Grey and Spanish director Àlex Ollé was meant to premiere three years ago. But Tour & Taxis – the temporary home to Brussels opera when its building was undergoing extensive renovations – could not fulfil the requirements of the opera’s advanced technologies. This isn’t just the biggest opera event in Belgium this year – the whole world is watching. Be a part of opera history and buy tickets now; they’re going fast. (In English with French and Dutch surtitles) 8-20 March, La Monnaie, Place de la Monnaie 5

It’s International Women’s Day on Friday, and Collecti.e.f 8 maars is encouraging women around Belgium to go on strike for the day, whether it’s from your job or household chores. The idea is to draw attention to the wage gap and unpaid work that women carry out. There will be a march in Brussels, as well as a number of related events. Other cities and towns across the country are holding events and activities, with a huge list of events listed on the organisation’s website. 8 March, across Belgium

Brussels brilliant festival dedicated to classical and new music – in the broadest sense of the word – is back. The Klara Festival's theme this year is Libera Me, with concerts built around the mythical figure of Faust and the ancient struggle between good and evil. Check out the Night of the Unexpected at Kanal, where technology-infused concerts await in the building’s nooks and crannies, and don’t miss the Klara Festival Box, the smallest concert hall in the world. 14-29 March, across Brussels

High Life at Offscreen Film Festival

As the title suggests, Cinema Nova’s Offscreen Film Festival is a real cabinet of curiosities. Dedicated to offbeat, cheesy, potentially shocking or otherwise obscure movies, Offscreen’s programme is bursting with ‘the cult films of tomorrow’. Take the opening film, High Life, in which a psychotic Juliette Binoche is intent on harvesting the semen of Robert Pattison, an inmate on a prison spacecraft (pictured above). Or Prospect, in which a father-daughter team are on the hunt for something very valuable, which happens to be guarded by fierce aliens on another planet where they cannot breathe the air. Space is a bit of a theme of this year’s festival, which also includes performances, guests, conferences and a games arcade! 13-31 March, across Brussels

Made in Asia is your one-stop shop for Japanese animation and video games but also Asian pop culture in general. Manga and cosplay abound, and guests include Japanese film and TV animators Takahiro Yoshimatsu and Yoshiharu Sato. 8-10 March, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1  

It can be tough for women in the male-dominated world of hip-hop, so La Belle Hip-Hop evens the playing field a bit with an annual festival devoted to women in the genre. See concerts by women from Europe, Africa, the US, Indonesia and Mexico. Pick up some swag at the market or take part in a debate. 8-15 March, across Brussels

Blue Planet II Live Concert

The BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet series have blown viewers away around the world. With some of the most intimate and revealing footage of the natural world ever captured, it taught us much about the creatures that inhabit this world that we still know too-little about. That’s certainly true for what lies beneath the deep blue seas – wonders we are still discovering. The most stunning shots and sequences from the seven-part Blue Planet II are now on tour, appearing on 4K Ultra HD LED screens and accompanied by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra will play the original score from the series, created by Hans Zimmers’ studio. 10 March 20.00, Paleis 12, Place de Belgique 1  

Artists of all kinds took to hospitals in Belgium and worked with patients and staff to create this interesting look into the relationship between culture and caregiving. Through Art We Care is the result, an exhibition and performances. 16-17 March is a good time to visit De Markten, where the exhibition will be accompanied by performance interventions. Until 28 March, De Markten, Rue du Vieuw Marché aux Grains 5

Kaaitheater’s biennial performance art festival Performatik is not to be missed, with so much on offer, it’s impossible to not find something to pique your interest. Will in by They Are Waiting for You, which will give you a whole new perspective on inanimate objects, or Dying Together, a look at how passengers respond when an airplane crash is imminent, or Melodies Are So Far My Best Friend, in which you stand right next to the artist as his words and ambient music question our current use of language. There are also talks, public interventions and sound installations, and much of it is in English. 13-23 March, across Brussels

Belgian artist Julie Scheurweghs brilliantly turns the male gaze – still with us since film critic Laura Mulvey famously coined the term in the 1970s – on its ear. She takes found images of women – the scantily clad and porn variety – and reconstructs them or pairs them with other images to startle the viewer into acknowledging an omnipresent objectification. Don’t miss Woman as Parts at La Botanique. Until 31 March, La Botanique, Rue Royale 236

Les archéologues by Georgio de Chirico

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

While art enthusiasts are all familiar with the names René Magritte, Paul Delvaux and Jane Graverol when it comes to that famous Belgian surrealism, they are less likely to have seen the work of Italian artist Georgio de Chirico. And yet his influence on 20th-century artists cannot be underestimated. A forerunner of the modern avant-garde, he was a revelation to the Belgians, who took his surrealist approach to the next level, even as he altered his artistic course in the 1930s. Bam in Mons is staging Giorgio De Chirico: The Origins of Belgian Surrealism, the country’s first solo exhibition dedicated to the artist. Until 2 June, Bam, Rue Neuve 8, Mons

A 1,000-year-old tradition, the Giant Bonfire of Bouge sees residents and visitors gather for the festival, procession and massive fire on the first Sunday of Lent. Chasing away the winter, the fire is fuelled with dead branches gathered from the surrounding forests. While the main bonfire can be seen up to 20km away, the seven smaller fires lit across the area can only be seen from the hill in Bouge that thousands of people climb for the spectacle. A ceremony that speaks to pagan celebrations and communication by fire, Bouge’s annual event is living heritage at its finest. 10 March, Bouge (Namur)

Photos: Frankenstein courtesy La Monnaie; Giorgio de Chirico/Les archéologues (detail)/1927/Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea/photo by Antonio Idini/©Sabam Belgium 2019

Written by Lisa Bradshaw