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Bruges’ landscape to be transformed by the Triennial

From 20 May – 18 October 2015 the city of Bruges is launching a brand new Contemporary Art and Architecture Triennial within the public spaces of its historic centre. In total, over forty artists, policy makers and architects from Belgium and around the world will be interlinked to tell an artistic tale of the theme of the Triennial: current global urbanisation. All over the city, visitors will be invited to observe a series of eye-catching contemporary art installations, each providing a thought-provoking and visually impactful message.

The curators of Triennial pose a hypothetical question around the study of global urbanisation: “What would happen if the five million people who visit Bruges every year, suddenly decided to settle here permanently?” Bruges would transform overnight into a rapidly developing, multicultural metropolis, with associated opportunities and challenges. This would inevitably lead to issues with housing, mobility and energy while at the same time putting into motion an incredible dynamic, resulting in a city throbbing with cultural diversity and human potential.

British artist Nathan Coley has been invited to contribute to the festival and will be exhibiting light sculptures with a poetic text in the Burg Square and the indoor courtyard of Bruges’ iconic Belfry tower. Hailing from Glasgow, Coley was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2007. Other artists invited to contribute include French based He He, (Helen Evans also from the UK and German, Heiko Hanson) who will be exhibiting a minature light and sound show entitled “Under Current”. In fact, a total of 14 artists have been commissioned to erect external installations, all around the city. 

Other notable installations will include a temporary tree house, constructed in the cloister garden trees in the picturesque Bruges Beguinage by Japanese artist Kawamata Tadashi. Elsewhere in the city centre, will be a mobile sound installation by artists Odand and Auingner (O&A) which will be accompanied with a one hour walking tour through Bruges. Entitled “Quiet is the New Loud”, the audio tour focuses on the tranquillity of Bruges, Small groups of no more than five, will be equipped with “lighter than air” speaker balloons. Sounds will be triggered as the walker activates GPS coordinates along a specially created “Songline” route.

The festival which first took place in 1968 was primarily directed to promote Belgian contemporary art. Artists such as Panamarenko (then relatively unknown), promoted artists until 1974. The 1977 triennial never materialised but the city of Bruges now has picked up the triennial thread again and this year’s festival is the first in a new series of triennials which are part of the city council’s long-term vision for contemporary art.

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