Leading Belgian artist exhibits his work in the cathedral

Leading Belgian artist exhibits his work in the cathedral

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 — During the city-wide festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’, Peter Paul Rubens’s masterpieces will be in the good company of masterpieces by contemporary artists. That is why the Cathedral of Our Lady will be exhibiting a unique art installation by the leading Belgian artist Koen Theys.

Diasporalia

Twelve bronze mattresses, covered with personal possessions, have been lined up in two rows on the floor. “Each mattress tells a story that develops around people as individuals, in search of their identity, as they struggle to preserve it. Man in search of his destination in life”, according to the artist. From 18 May until 13 January 2019, you can discover Diasporalia, Koen Theys’s new art installation, in St. Joseph’s Chapel in the Cathedral of Antwerp.

Koen Theys was inspired by Rubens. “He had the idea to create this art installation after visiting our church”, says a visibly proud Bart Paepen, who is the parish priest of the Cathedral of Our Lady. “It refers to the problem of refugees, to the diaspora or scattering of a population that is on the run for something, of people who were forced to leave all their material belongings behind. A contemporary Baroque artwork confronts visitors with one of the most pressing social issues of the twenty-first century. While the Church certainly does not have all the answers, it also wishes to be heard in this debate.”

Refugee slow dating

You need to take time to get to know others better, especially when you want to learn more about the life story of someone who left their country, friends, family and possessions behind to start a new life in a different country, far away from the war, violence and poverty. On Wednesday 5 December 2018, refugees and locals will gather for a discussion in the unique setting of the Cathedral, for a Refugee Slow Dating. Not just for two minutes, but for half an hour, to really meet each other and listen to what the other has to say.

Sleep

In the margin of Diasporalia, you can also spend the night in the Cathedral on 7 September for a performance of Sleep by the German-born British composer Max Richter. Sleep is an eight-hour concert during which the audience does not sit on chairs as is customary, but gets to recline on beds. Richter was inspired by the world-famous Baroque composer Bach for his composition. “This will be the only time Sleep is performed in our country and probably also the first and the last time that it is performed in a church anywhere in the world. This promises to be quite an exciting night”, Bart Paepen predicts.

Baroque in situ

Caroline Bastiaens, the Alderman for Culture, explains: “This artwork by Koen Theys is exhibited as part of the city-wide festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’. Rubens is a source of inspiration for many artists, both past and present. In addition to the Cathedral, our four other Antwerp monumental churches will participate in this festival, with an innovative public programme. They are all silent witnesses of Rubens’s era.” Thanks to VISITFLANDERS and the City of Antwerp, the not-for-profit association Monumentale Kerken Antwerpen was able to develop a new public offering, giving the public an opportunity to (re-)discover Rubens and the city’s Baroque heritage. A new Rubens walk takes you on a tour of the Cathedral, St. Andrew’s Church, St. Charles Borromeo Church and St. Paul’s Church for example.


Practical information

  • From 18 May 2018 until 13 January 2019
     
  • Exhibition in St. Joseph’s Chapel in the Cathedral of Our Lady
     
  • Cathedral of Our Lady
    Handschoenmarkt - 2000 Antwerp
  • Open from Monday until Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
    Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
    Sundays and public holidays from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
    (The opening hours are subject to change and may be modified to exceptional circumstances of a liturgical nature)
     
  • Admission: €6 | €4 (groups of 20 or more participants, students, 60+ | free (-12, residents of the Province of Antwerp and holders of a Baroque Festival Card)
  • Fringe activities
     

Refugee slow dating

Wednesday 5 December 2018, 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

You need to take time to get to know others better, especially when you want to learn more about the life story of someone who left their country, friends, family and possessions behind to start a new life in a different country, far away from the war, violence and poverty. On Wednesday 5 December 2018, refugees and locals will gather for a discussion in the unique setting of the Cathedral, for a Refugee Slow Dating. Not just for two minutes, but for half an hour, to really meet each other and listen to what the other has to say.

Max Richter | Sleep

7-8 September 2018, midnight until 8 a.m.

In the margin of Diasporalia, you can also spend the night in the Cathedral on 7 September for a performance of Sleep by the German-born British composer Max Richter. Sleep is an eight-hour concert during which the audience does not sit on chairs as is customary, but gets to recline on beds. Richter was inspired by the world-famous Baroque composer Bach for his composition. “By connecting Diasporalia with Sleep, we are challenging people to think about the fate of the people, to whom Koen Theys’s sculpture refers. What dreams push people to leave their homes? Which desires fuel the fire in the hearts of these uprooted men, women and children who wash ashore in our society? And do people find each other and recognise each other on this level, despite the many differences between them?”. (Reverend Bart Paepen, parish priest of the Cathedral).

Further information and bookings (from mid-June) at www.antwerpenbarok2018.be

  • Publication
    Lannoo will be publishing a book about Diasporalia, with contributions by Philippe Van Cauteren (artistic director S.M.A.K Gent), Dimitri Verhulst (writer), Kathy de Nève (art historian) and the Reverend Bart Paepen (parish priest of the Cathedral).
Marieke D’Hooghe Coordinator vzw Monumentale Kerken Antwerpen