Belgium's Watou Arts Festival 2024 makes Room for Imagination

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Belgium's Watou Arts Festival 2024 makes Room for Imagination

The city of Poperinge, inspirator Koen Vanmechelen and curators James Putnam and Michaël Vandebril present the 2024 edition of Watou Arts Festival. 'Landscape of the Imagination' will take place from July 6 to September 1. Artists and poets will showcase the power of the imagination, in dialogue with each other and with several unique locations in and around the village and castle De Lovie.

The new edition of the Watou Arts Festival focuses on the power of the imagination. After two successful editions, Koen Vanmechelen and Michaël Vandebril assume their role, for the third consecutive time, as respectively inspirer and curator of poetry. James Putnam, who has previously (in 2022) assumed the role of visual arts curator, completes the three-member curatorial team.

Many of the artists developed their works in dialogue with Watou's locality. In the spring of 2023, a record number of 200 artists registered for the open call ‘Patchwwwork’. An international jury - chaired by Koen Vanmechelen and consisting of Dirk Draulans, Jo Coucke, Marjan Doom, James Putnam, Edith Doove, Michaël Vandebril, Sabiha Keyif and Loes Vandromme - selected the participants for the summer camp. Their ideas ‘flow’ from the landscape, which resulted in some twenty new realizations. As a result, the artworks are sometimes playful, but at the same time thought-provoking.

The interconnectedness between the village, the landscape, the poets and the artists is what makes this festival so unique. Curator Michaël Vandebril once again opts for new creations by twenty poets, who enter into conversation with the work of the visual artists and with the village.

During ‘Landscape of the Imagination’, artists and poets approach the concept of "imagination" as an inner psychological landscape that exists between people and the physical spaces around them. Through words and images, they aim to make us aware of the power imagination possesses to transform and make a difference. Their work will be on display in several locations in and around the village. Castle De Lovie in Poperinge once again plays an important role.

Artist Mikes Poppe, who impressed in 2022 with his durational performance is planning a new long-term performance. Where "And the farmer, he ploughed on" had a field as its canvas, he will venture onto water as the second part of his diptych for Watou.

A selection of participating artists*:
Pato Bosich (CL)
Cecile Broekaert (BE) Monique Broekman (NL) Linde Carrijn & Dijf Sanders (BE) Mat Collishaw (GB) Matthijs De Block (BE) Lieze De Middeleir (BE) Werner de Valk (NL) Joost Elschot (NL) Karolina Halatek (PL) Mariko Hori (JP) John Isaacs (GB) Lafleur & Bogaert (HT & BE) Ilya Kabakov (RU) Carel Lanters & Lee Eun Young (NL & KR) Mashid Mohadjerin & Jan De Vroede (IR & BE) Daan Navarrete-van der Pluijm (NL) Alice Obee (BE) Mikes Poppe (BE) Roundhouse Platform (US) Marina Resende Santos (BR) Anila Rubiku (AL) Sanne van Balen (NL) Lieke van der Meer (NL) Lie van der Werff (NL) Laura Vandewynckel (BE)
*more to be announced

Main Image :James Putnam, Koen Vanmechelen and Michaël Vandebril in Kasteel De Lovie, ©Goele Schoofs

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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