I am a "Flagey" fan. The 'steamboat' is a special landmark and institution in my Brussels' city district, Ixelles.
The Flagey building has a rich 75 year history and celebrations are well on the way. It was the former home to the National Institute for Radio Broadcasting, and is very much appreciated today for its exquisite acoustic proprieties. Contrary to what I've read here and there, Mr. Flagey was not the architect of the building - he was the mayor of Ixelles from 1935 to 1953.
I already mentioned the anniversary celebration when talking about Amos Oz' visit. Here are a few birthday shots, with the swinging Matthew Herbert Big Band in action as the closing concert of the Winter Jazz Festival.
"At the end of 1933, a competition was organised that was won by the Belgian architect Joseph Diongre. His design combined architectural innovation with the strictest acoustic and technical requirements. The most original aspect of the project was the fully-fledged status accorded the public, which was clearly expressed in the building's architectural elaboration. The architect also paid particular attention to detail, the materials used and had furniture designed that was specially adapted to the building. Thanks to the simplicity and pragmatism inherent in his design, between 1935 and 1938 Diongre was able to build the much-needed “sound factory”, one of the first broadcasting buildings in Europe. From the moment of its inauguration, the steamboat won international acclaim. The inherent qualities of the studios (especially Studio 4) were praised throughout the world and attracted the most prestigious musicians of the century (classical, contemporary and jazz) for concerts and festivals as well as for recordings". http://www.flagey.be/en/history
I do feel like sharing these pictures, even though I did not find enough light to make them turn out the way I wanted them to be. Indeed, Amos Oz' presence is Brussels is quite exceptional. Oz was interviewed by Kerenn Elkaïm, journalistat Le Vif/LExpress. He is a fabulous writer but he can also entertain a crowd! Listening him speak about his books, life's experiences and wisdom last Sunday morning in Flagey's studio 4 was a wonderful treat. "The Israeli writer Amos Oz (1939) received international acclaim for his novel Black Box and for his phenomenal autobiography A Story of Love and Darkness – a must-read for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of Israel’s history. Amos Oz’ presence in Brussels coincides with of the launch of the Dutch and French translations of his latest collection of short stories,Between Friends.
Amos Oz : I am very curious about loneliness and grace, or a moment of grace amid loneliness, because that is a description of the human condition." www.passaporta.be
I have written about Flagey before and will be back with more. In the meantime, you can find out about the 75 years Flagey celebrations and explore the events organized to commemorate this anniversary: http://www.flagey.be/en/program/genre/flagey-75
This contemporary interpretation of Mozart opera is worth a detour. If you are around, love Opera and can get tickets, I recommend you go to one of the last performances this Saturday or Sunday. Info, trailer, cast, team, etc on the link below. http://vlaamseopera.be/en/#!/productions/die-zauberflote-1
Still on the same subject of the complexity of the Belgian structure, politics, bilingualism, regional co-existence - a subject which is never far away in this country- I'd like to introduce Nathalie Van Eygen, a Belgian photographer, author of "Ceci n'est pas België". The book is the result of Nathalie's graduation work at the Academy of Anderlecht. It illustrates life in Belgium and the challenges of different communities living together. What better way than photographs to put things in perspective and show narrow-mindedness or oddness here and there.
The book is for sale in different libraries in Brussels and can also be ordered directly from the author at email@example.com (19,99 eu). www.vaneygen.be
To illustrate the previous posting, an example of bilingualism in the streets of Brussels. These trams are for rent: special trips through the city can be arranged for a party, a wedding, a business event... in one, two or several languages.
Picture by Dimitri Strobbe From reactions I receive from readers, I realize that it is all but clear to many what is going on here in this country with language, politics, elections, and all the talk about federation versus confederation, etc. But let's stick to this blog's philosophy of steering clear of politics. Nevertheless, Dimitri's picture, which he took about two years ago in January 2011 at the occasion of the protest march "Shame" in Brussels, is as good a reason as any to give you some numbers here: "Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers (about 60%), mostly Flemish, and the French-speakers (about 40%), mostly Walloons, plus a small group of German-speakers. Belgium's two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region. A German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia.Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium
There is Fons, Fons Sapientiae. The once very popular Flemish first name Fons, combined with the Latin word Wisdom, is a humorous reference to the university's motto 'Sedes Sapientiae' (the Seat of Wisdom). Fons is reading or studying a book while he is pouring a delicious Belgian beer into his head. The sculptor is Jef Claerbout.
The second statue, by sculptor René Rosseel, represents the scholar and humanist Erasmus (1467-1536) who was a lecturer at the University of Leuven but is mostly known as the author of Lof der Zotheid (the Praise of Folly), a critical essay on 16th century life and customs.
The contrast between the first pictures - showing sales of expensive designer shoes by names such as Maison Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Tim Van Steenbergen - and the last picture, taken just next door, could not be bigger.
It seems like every time I drive by the ‘Palace of Justice’ it is raining. Its origin, history and story are interesting but until today, partly as a consequence of its enormous size, controversy with regard to security issues remain. The building is indeed bigger than St Peter's Basilica in Rome! I remember always hearing stories about the negative connotation of the word 'architect' and this is why: Joseph Poelaert, the architect was appointed by the then minister of justice Tesch to design the building in 1861. "The first stone was laid on October 31, 1866, and the building was inaugurated on October 15, 1883, after Poelaert's death. For the building of the Palace of Justice, a section of the Marollen neighbourhood was demolished, while most of the park belonging to the House of Mérode was also expropriated. Poelaert himself lived in the Marollen neighbourhood in a house only a few hundred metres from the building, a house adjoining his vast offices and workshops. It is thus unlikely he saw himself as ruining the neighbourhood. As a result of the forced relocation of so many people, the word architect became one of the most serious insults in Brussels. The Palace's location is on the Galgenberg hill, where in the Middle Ages convicted criminals were hanged. At the end of the Second World War, on the eve of the liberation of Brussels, the retreating Germans started a fire in the Palace of Justice in order to destroy it: the cupola collapsed and part of the building was heavily damaged. By 1947 most of the building was repaired and the cupola was rebuilt two and a half meters higher than the original. Starting in 2003, renovations have begun on the building. These renovations pertain to the repair and strengthening of the roof structure and the walls as well as putting a new layer on the gilded cupola". As, you can see, scaffolding is still in place today.
Happy New Year, Bonne Année, Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! I noticed this banner on Judy's sidebar yesterday and asked her if she would let me use it today. I like its simplicity and color, a fitting introduction to a new year. Judy, who lives in Walla, Walla in the state of Washington (+/- 8000 km from Belgium) answered in a generous way " What's mine is yours :)", so here we go. Happy 2013! May it be an excellent year for all of you! http://judy-minutebyminutedaybyday.blogspot.be/