4:00 pm

swamp gathering

Compared to other cities, Brussels has been “spared” from a centralized, large-scale neoliberal city development, partly because of the involuntary obstruction caused by its complex constitution and identity. But today we seem to be heading for deep water. While other cities are getting saturated, and with the artistic scene in Brussels attracting large numbers of people and considerable attention, the city hall is searching for a way to put Brussels on the international map, mimicking other cities’ narratives, which are mainly based on tourism, comfort, and control.
(How) can Brussels hold on to and use its elusive locality? This brings us to the swamp, the concrete and geological base (etymological origin: Broekzele—broek = “marsh” + zele = “thatching, settlement”) the city is built on.

Can the swamp, both geographically and metaphorically, help us to analyze the political complexity and the ways this is being more and more repressed? Could we deploy our idea of the swamp as toxic and draining—an intensification of complexity, contingency, or liquidity—as a tool of resilience to obstruct centralized gentrification and neoliberal city developments? Can the swamp be used as a productive field of interpretation for imagining different heterotopic and symbiotic futures? Or are we, in fact, ourselves gentrifying and exploiting (the idea of) the swamp by appropriating and romanticizing it?

During this informal swamp gathering, both lecturers and audience will participate in a grounds created by artist Naïmé Perrette to collectively sink into the underground and touch upon the different layers of the swamp. The audience is invited to walk in and out and take part in the discussion.

Researcher and activist Rozalinda Borcila (US) will join via Skype to talk about her experiences and research in both Miami and Chicago on the capitalization of the swamp and the consequences this has for the indigenous population. Philosopher Kristupas Sabolius will talk about the swamp as a milieu providing a framework for imagining alternative futures, as opposed to the utopian fantasies of islands, and focus on the wetlands of Venice. Finally, the gathering will concentrate on the geographical history of the Brussels wetlands, as well as the present situation and its intertwinement with the political constitution, with contributions from artists and researchers, each representing a different angle, approach, and discipline.

Ingrid Vranken (FoAM), Sepideh Ardalani (Massia Officinale) and Mihaela Brebenel (Winchester School of Art) explore possibilities to relate to the swamp from feminist, postcolonial and botanical perspectives. They share a recipe for a potion that allows us to communicate with the spirit of the swamp. Its ingredients and cooking instructions guide us through the temporality of the swamp, it’s unmappable territory and the swamps capacity to challenge binary thinking. Philosopher Thomas Decreus will relate the swamp to anarchist approaches, and Jeroen Peters will offer a response based on his research on ecologies of attention, embodied knowledge, and material literacy. Kobe Mathys and Christophe Piette will draw on the experience gained in their collective garden in Anderlecht. Sofie Van Bruystegem of City Mine(d) provides insights into her project Eggevoort Friche, focusing both on collective water experiments at the foot of the European Parliament, which depicts the city’s political complexity and the hierarchy of governmental levels in a concrete manner, and on the difficulties the metaphor of the wetlands entails—also for artistic and activist practices. Finally, Fabio Vanin and Marco Ranzato (Latitude) will address the revaluation and physical reconstitution of the water in Brussels. This debate often occurs in a romantic context based on the idea of making the water visible again as a tool for making the city more likable and gentler. They will address this matter from a social perspective: What would “showing the water” in the lower parts of Brussels entail in symbolic/social/political terms?

Guy Gypens (director Kaaitheater) will host the gathering.

with
Rozalinda Borcila
Thomas Decreus
Guy Gypens
Jeroen Peeters
Kristupas Sabolius
Michiel Vandevelde
Sofie Van Bruystegem
Fabio Vanin and Marco Ranzato (Latitude)
Ingrid Vranken
Zenne garden (Kobe Matthys and Christophe Piette)

location
Prinsenstraat/Rue des Princes 12, 1000 Brussels

Saturday, October 13, 2018
4pm – 7pm

Rozalinda Borcilă

Borcilă is interested in the ways imperial border regimes are produced, experienced, and contested. She uses performance, field research and video to trace local geographies of global racial finance, following patterns of flow that link warehouse districts, weapons manufacturing sites, detention centers, petroleum supply chains, property speculation, financial rituals and technocratic forms.

She teaches in universities, social centers, squats, refugee camps, and in the streets. She is currently teaching a research seminar entitled “Underlyings” at the ICA in Miami (US).

Thomas Decreus

Thomas Decreus is a political philosopher and historian. He is author of the books Een paradijs waait uit de storm. Over markt, democratie en verzet (EPO, 2013) and Dit is morgen (EPO, 2015) He currently works as a journalist for DeWereldMorgen.be.

Guy Gypens

Guy Gypens is currently the general and artistic director of the Kaaitheater arts center in Brussels. After obtaining a master’s degree in economic science and an MBA in marketing and human resource management, he became the administrator at the Beursschouwburg in Brussels from 1987 to 1991. From 1991 until 2007 he was general manager for Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her dance company Rosas. Simultaneously, he worked for some years as manager for theater company STAN and contemporary music ensemble Ictus. From 1996 to 2000 he also directed the Springdance Festival in Utrecht.

Jeroen Peeters

Jeroen Peeters is a writer, dramaturge, and performer based in Brussels. He has published widely on contemporary dance and performance, art theory, and philosophy, including a book on spectatorship, Through the Back: Situating Vision between Moving Bodies (2014). The essay Reseeding the Library, Gleaning Readership (2018) looks into biodiversity and the dispersion of literature. Peeters’s current research focuses on ecologies of attention, embodied knowledge, material literacy, and sustainable development.

Kristupas Sabolius

Kristupas Sabolius is an associate professor of philosophy at Vilnius University (Lithuania) and a Fulbright Scholar alumnus at SUNY (Stony Brook). He is the author of Proteus and the Radical Imaginary (2015, Bunkier Sztuki, in Polish and English) The Imaginary (2013, Vilnius University Press, in Lithuanian), and Furious Sleep. Imagination and Phenomenology (2012, Vilnius University Press, in Lithuanian) as well as numerous essays, signalizing the contradictory function of imagination, appearing in all the major theories of Western thought. He is also an active public intellectual and a writer of novels, theatre plays and scripts, including The Gambler, Lithuania’s nomination for the foreign-language category at the 2015 Oscars.

Sofie Van Bruystegem

Urban development is everybody’s business. From this perspective, Sofie Van Bruystegem has developed many initiatives that involve citizens in the future of their city, operating under the umbrella of City Mine(d), which builds prototypes (working models) as an answer to questions/obstacles that emerge in specific urban contexts (water, energy, public space, democracy, etc.).
City Mine(d) builds coalitions of citizens, researchers, policy makers, private companies, makers/hackers/artists who collide and collate knowledge, experience, and convictions.
Sofie has developed prototypes in Brussels, London, and Barcelona linked to virtual/public space (GatInDeStad, guaGua), urban economy (Micronomics, MicroMarchéMidi, Waffle Bank), water, and the appropriation of technology (ProperWaterPavilion, Pacco-test). She is currently exploring the space for maneuver for citizens in the urban electricity landscape (Citizens Take Power – working title)

Michiel Vandevelde

Michiel Vandevelde studied dance and choreography at P.A.R.T.S., Brussels. He is active as a choreographer, curator, writer and editor. He is a member of the artistic team of Kunsthal Extra City (together with Antonia Alampi and iLiana Fokianaki, from 2017 till 2019, Antwerp, BE) and Bâtard (a festival for emerging artists and thinkers, Brussels, BE). He is involved as an editor in the Disagree. magazine, and he has written articles for Etcetera, De Witte Raaf, Rekto:Verso, Mister Motley, etc. From 2017 to 2021 Michiel Vandevelde is artist in residence at Kaaitheater (Brussels, BE). In his work he investigates the elements that constitute or obstruct the contemporary public sphere. He explores which other social, economic and cultural alternatives we can imagine in order to question, challenge and transform dominant logics and ways of organizing. He has been developing a variety of projects both in public space and in (performing) arts institutions.

Fabio Vanin and Marco Ranzato (Latitude)

Latitude is a platform strongly engaged in context-based research and design that aims at understanding space in its multiple dimensions focusing on emergences, space-place issues, the everyday and the unexpected. It takes works on well-established urban conditions and territories, as well as liminal physical and social contexts, experimenting with a wide range of tools for investigation and dissemination at the intersection between urban design and anthropology.
The platform’s research and practice-based approach produces visually oriented outputs, such as publications, exhibitions, artworks and other initiatives that involve the general public like workshops and seminars. Latitude is a dynamic working group that collaborates with universities, design offices, civil society organizations, public institutions and artists.

Fabio Vanin (PhD) is co-director of LATITUDE Platform for Urban Research and Design and assistant professor of Landscape Urbanism at the Master STeR* in urban design and spatial planning at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His main research interest lies in the relation between design and social practices, currently ranging from the impact of the security paradigm in shaping the urban realm to the compatibility and social value of urban productive spaces (Brussels) and the effects of environmental issues on the urban landscape with a focus on water. He has also conducted research on post-independence urban contexts with a focus on the transformation processes of Lusophone cities. 

Marco Ranzato (PhD) is co-director of LATITUDE Platform for Urban Research and Design, researcher at the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta of the Université libre de Bruxelles, and coordinator of the LoUiSE research group for Metrolab, a laboratory of territorial engineering supported by the ERDF program 2014–20. His current research focuses on the Brussels Capital Region, exploring the role of design in the arrangement of inclusive metabolic production and consumption patterns and more integrated systems of water. He also works around the concept of co-production, focusing in particular on the co-production of water, energy and waste services, and co-design. One of his main research interests centers on the processes of horizontal urbanization and the resulting infrastructure configurations.

Ingrid Vranken, in collaboration with Sepideh Ardalani and Mihaela Brebenel

Ingrid Vranken works as a dramaturg, producer and curator both in Flanders and abroad. She is a member of FoAM, a transdisciplinary laboratory at the interstices of art, science, nature and everyday life. Her work focuses on connecting the arts and ecology, not only as a theme of artistic work, but also as a way to transform artistic processes and practices. Her research focusses on new collaborative, curatorial and dramaturgical models, and a wider ecological and post-capitalist transition, that includes non-humans. 

Sepideh Ardalani plays with herbs. She creates spaces and events which invite for interactions with plants as an entry point to step into relationship with the other-than-human. With Massia Officinale she is currently building a platform to foster the fertile meeting of herbalism, artistic research, theory and everyday practices. A residency in rural Estonia with medicinal herb garden, botanical apothecary and a library builds the framework for diverse approaches to topics of ecology and social and planetary health.

Mihaela Brebenel is a screen and visual studies researcher and curator, interested in feminist and queer practices, and in the aesthetics and politics of screen (and other) technologies. She is part of various collectives and engages often in collaborative work. She is a Lecturer in Digital Cultures at Winchester School of Art, where she is part of the Archaeologies of Media and Technology (AMT) research group.

Zenne garden (Kobe Matthys and Christophe Piette)

The Zenne garden is an initiative that was taken by a group of people who searched for a way to experiment with perma-culture gardening in the city. Perma-culture practices approach a garden more as an eco-system and give importance to the associative role that each organism plays inside a biotope, and the singular niche it has in the environment. These practices employ the various cycles of life or “time stacking” in an eco-system to enrich the soil and bring forth both annual and perennial vegetable crops. Forest type garden searches for including as much diversity in the garden as possible, of plants, trees, insects and animals to create an abundance of life. This implies concretely no turning of the soil, no artificial fertilizers or pesticides, no watering, etc…. The Zenne garden experiments with such practices since 2007 on a precarious urban interstice piece of land along the banks of the Zenne river in Anderlecht, Brussels. The group inherited the land from abandoned rental allotments or “volkstuinen” and transformed these gradually in one transversal collective garden. As big parts of the garden soil suffered from road works, the soil undergoes various form of remediation. Every member of the group takes some responsibility over one or several experiments and at the same time everyone keeps in mind the garden as a whole. The collective day of working is Sunday afternoon. Newcomers become “initiated” in the principles of perma-culture by gardening in group with other members.