Sneak preview of the Bruges Triennial 2021 – TraumA

This summer Bruges becomes even more attractive hosting the Triennial Bruges 2021, that places contemporary art and architecture in dialogue with the medieval city. The Triennial runs from May 8th to October 24th 2021 and brings local and international artists together in one large outdoor exhibition. So no excuse for modern art lovers for skipping Bruges this summer since modern art is best enjoyed in open air and unusual settings. And it is completely free of charge. The Triennial comes just at the right time since we expect that International tourists will be allowed to travel to Europe and Belgium again this summer. The theme of this years’ art and architecture route is TraumA referring to both dream (traum) and trauma. Bruges is more than a popular tourist destination on many bucket lists. People live and work here, and what happens behind many façades often stays hidden and is not always ‘happy go lucky’. This Triennial wants to show the less known sides of the city and so many of the installations this year can be found away from the classical tourist route. Triennial 2021 offers unusual art installations in less known corners of this world heritage city ! 

And just as in 2015 and 2018 I love to discover the works in progress, and will share them with my readers in a sneak preview. This year Walk in Bruges offers guided tours along the Triennial route, bringing the works to life for you. And if this is your first visit to our city, we will plan a route that also includes the most important highlights, so you don’t need to choose between medieval and contemporary art! 

We are now exactly one week before the opening on May 8th, and the Triennial is slowly coming to life. The first signs of constuction works could be spotted at the beginning of April, but the artists were already preparing and working, either in their own workshop or in a workshop here in Bruges, long before that.

This year three Belgian artists show their work along ten International artists from different continents. The first two editions mainly focused on how to solve urban challenges, focusing on the exterior of the city. This year we look inwards. The Triennial tries to give the viewer a look behind the scenes of this tourist destination. It looks beyond the brick walls towards its inhabitants whom are often invisible to its visitors.

The artist Amanda Browder was the perfect artist to embody this years Triennial. Her work is based on a participatory approach, and can only be made with the active cooperation of the inhabitants of the locations where her work will be shown. She works with textiles, and she sees textiles as a perfect medium to communicate. Her large scale textile installations are made up of donated fabrics, and are sewn together with the help of in this case the people of Bruges. The large installation on the Ververdsdijk, (the dyers dock), is a colorful patchwork of photographs sent to her by citizens of Bruges who also shared the story behind the fabric with her. So even in corona times she built up a relationship with several citizens of the city. In April she flew to Belgium and started, with the help of locals, on three smaller installations made up of donated fabric that are pinned and then sewn together and will be installed in three (surprise) additional locations throughout the city this summer.

Nadia Kaabi Linke, who was born in Tunis, grew up between Tunis, Paris, Kiev and Dubai, and is now living in Berlin, works around the theme of identity and migration and the feeling of belonging.

Henrique Oliveira’s work brings nature into the city, and re-uses discarded natural materials from his homeland Brazil for his artwork that makes the viewer wonder if the installation is natural or man-made.

Hector Zamora is a second artist that works with nature, he brings a project to Bruges that he had planned before but couldn’t implement. The work asks for active participation from the viewer who will experience a poetic moment viewing Bruges from a whole new perspective.

Nnenna Okore was charmed by the medieval architecture of which the red color reminded her of het childhood in Nigeria. She turns a 700 year old tower into a colorful beacon that welcomes the visitors of Bruges.

Adrian Villar Rojas‘ work will be the least visible work in this years Triennial even though it will be the most widespread installation in the city. He also leaves the viewer wondering if what they see is made man-made of bird-made. The real question is: does it matter?

Two installation are a cooperation of two artists and two architects. The Polish artists Joanna Malinowska and C.T. Jasper dropped a new mysterious inhabitant in the beguinage of Bruges, and the architects Gijs Van Vaerenbergh built a mysterious labyrinth made up of pillars in one of the many green spaces of the city.

Other works are by the Belgian artists Hans Op De Beeck and Nadia Naveau, the American artists Laura Splan and architect Jon Lott and the German artist Gregor Schneider. In the Poortersloge a parallel group exhibition of 40 works titled ‘The Porous City‘ can be visited; between dream and nightmare, under the skin or underground, from analogue to digital alienation. (can be visited daily, free entry) Feel welcome to visit Bruges this summer and discover the thirtheen installations that are a welcome and refreshing modern addition in the medieval city of Bruges.

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