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'Between Doors' by Labspace Studio is one of the curious artistic set-ups ready to take over Brussels the night of October 1st | © Labspace Studio/courtesy of Nuit Blanche
'Between Doors' by Labspace Studio is one of the curious artistic set-ups ready to take over Brussels the night of October 1st | © Labspace Studio/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche Brussels 2016: What To Expect

Picture of Nana Van De Poel
Updated: 20 September 2016
Nuit Blanche: the night of urban artistry that has captured the imaginations of over a dozen European cities. With Brussels among them, close to 100,000 curious night owls will be bumping into wondrous scenes in the Belgian capital’s streets on Saturday, October 1st. Here we take a closer look at what to expect from the 2016 edition, set to take place in the European Quarter. This year’s surprisingly topical theme? ‘Borders’.

Previous editions that had whole squares shrouded in smoke and divers floating around in see-through tanks have already proven that Nuit Blanche provides an outlet for urban artists to carry out their wildest ideas. This year, both upcoming and established creatives will be focusing their collective strengths on the European district, high-rise central and home to the European Parliament. The neighborhood should provide an especially poignant backdrop to this year’s hot-button topic of ‘Borders’. While previous editions asked artists to let the creativity flow around themes such as ‘Renaissance’ and ‘cinema’, 2016’s choice signals a political edge to the proceedings we haven’t seen before.

In the Greek Georgia Lale's #OrangeVest performance, people dressed in black and a orange life vest keep popping up along the parcours | © George Xourafas/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

In Greek Georgia Lale’s #OrangeVest performance, people dressed in all black except for an orange life vest pop up along the path | © George Xourafas/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

It’s only logical that the setting for this newly political approach to Nuit Blanche should be what’s essentially the heart of the heart of Europe (or at least its governing institutions). Starting in front of the European Parliament and its Hemicycle – the very spot where decisions on the migrant crisis are being made – the tour will stretch on to the Résidence Palace. Spanish architect Pablo Valbuena will kick off the tour with his Gyrotype project, enveloping the Parliament in light and sound. Wrapping things up at the Résidence Palace will be a double celebration of American composer Steve Reich through two musical projects co-organized by De Munt/La Monnaie. These will allow the public to enter the post-World War I luxury apartment complexes and all their Art Deco glory – closed to the public for five years now – for one night only.

Guilty Landscapes by Dutchman Dries Verhoeven questions the way the Western spectator relates to the real-life misery the media show us | © Kevin McElvaney/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

Guilty Landscapes by Dutchman Dries Verhoeven questions the way Western spectators relate to the real-life misery the media hits them with | © Kevin McElvaney/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

In between beginning and end, in lovely locations such as Leopold Park and the Solvay Library, you can expect a whole host of otherworldly installations. Tuur Marinus (BE) and his dance students intend to bring the fish and birds in the Natural History Museum to life, while Marshmallow Laser Feast (UK) offers you a look at the world through a frog’s eyes. Concert Noble, one of the capital’s most sumptuous music halls, is swinging open its doors as well for a work of art that’s completely different from its usual posh affairs.

Still Animals by Tuur Marinus | © Bram Goots/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

Tuur Marinus’ Still Animals will be taking over Brussels’ Natural History Museum with dance | © Bram Goots/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

All of these venues will be occupied by engaged artists who will try their hardest to make you reflect on immigration in a broad sense. To this point, 2016’s edition of Nuit Blanche is also one of the most international to date. Only nine Belgian-based projects have been selected, as well as 21 international ones. Northern Europe, Southern Europe and the Middle East are particularly well represented. Aiming to ‘break down barriers between individuals, cultures and disciplines’ and to ‘bring people together in the city, through art’, the 14th Nuit Blanche in the Belgian capital is shaping up to be quite the thought-provoking event.

Lydia Richardson Welcomes You is artist Anne Thuot's installation performance in Concert Noble, where you will be met by refugees who recently made it to Belgium | © Sara Sempelayo/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

Lydia Richardson Welcomes You is artist Anne Thuot’s installation performance in Concert Noble, where you will be met by her rich heir persona and by refugees who have recently made it to Belgium | © Sara Sempelayo/courtesy of Nuit Blanche

 

Nuit Blanche is on Saturday, October 1st, from 7pm to 3am

Entirely free