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