Alive, original, poetic… ThalieLab takes its first steps

Things are getting back to normal at number 15 rue Buchholt in Brussels. For an entire weekend, the 1920s-era villa opened its doors to curious audiences looking for new experiences, and there was a refreshing spirit of utopia in the air. A new adventure had begun. On October 7th and 8th, after a year’s renovation overseen by the Belgian architect duo Vanden Eeckhoudt- Creyf, visitors were given a preview of what will be going on this January at ThalieLab, a veritable laboratory of collaborative artistic activity featuring a residency and a programme including masterclasses, seminars, workshops…

This new site for contemporary art aims to be more than an exhibition space. “We don’t want to just display art, but to create art,” according to Nathalie Guiot, the woman behind this initiative.

The goal is to support alternative forms of art connected with societal issues, by functioning as an artistic incubator.

By way of introduction, the artists Grace Ndiritu, Elena Mazzi and the duo of Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet, who have all been selected for the first residency, presented their projects on the inaugural theme of Identities and Territories.

The two-day pre-opening was marked by a series of “guerrilla” performances. Alex Cecchetti (Italy) offered a subversive and humorous guided tour of the house that is still under construction, on the Dantean theme of heaven and hell, invoking his favourite poets such as Pablo Neruda and Pasolini…. The forceful intrusion of the pair of female performers, New Noveta (United Kingdom), made both the walls and souls tremble… While a radical dance performance, conceived by the video artist Rachel Monosov (Russian) and Admire Kamudzengerere (Zimbabwe) to live music by Philipp Rhensius & Adam Ben-Nun (INRA), offered a both poetic and political take on the concept of gender and the types of exclusion to which it can lead.

Finally, the programme was closed on a slightly melancholy note, inviting deep reflection, with a performance-lecture by Julien Creuzet. “Il nous faut trouver le sommeil là-dedans, dans l’océan…” (It is there that we must fall asleep, in the ocean), inspired by the ‘archipelagic thought’ of Edouard Glissant.

In the course of these two days, we became part of a living, political and emergent territory…

We hope to see you in late January 2018 for the public presentation of the first projects by the artists in residence.

Pauline Vidal, correspondent