Cultural Compass: Romantic comedy, live sculptures, opera house favourite and more

Exhibitions, music, architecture, books, festivals… this is Belga English's pick of cultural activities in Flanders and Brussels, published every Sunday.

“Two lonely souls meet for a simple night of passion but stumble upon a chance for true connection.” This is the quick synopsis for Terrence McNally’s play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. The Bridge Theatre in Brussels opens a limited run of the bittersweet romantic comedy this week. From 6 until 22 June, audiences can enjoy this enduring piece about an unlikely pair who navigates vulnerability through humour.

In addition to the performance, the theatre will present several post-show talks featuring an array of speakers, including members of the cast and crew, political scientist Fatima Zibouh, media and communication specialist Tom Moylan and burnout coach Jennifer Spruyt.


This summer, the sprawling sculpture park in Antwerp’s Middleheim Museum will host Come Closer in tandem with DE SINGEL. Starting on 7 June, sculpture and performance art will become one as 25 local and international artists descend on the open space to showcase their work. The massive works of bronze and stone will be replaced by the human body in an effort to create a living connection between the art and the audience.

“COME CLOSER not only says something about today's art but also about our everyday lives,” the organisers say. “Because even in the countless interactions we engage in every day, we always take on different roles. At the same time, we are always ourselves, we are also always a little different: online or not, among colleagues, with our parents, with friends. It is 'performing' in constant exchange with our environment, and subject to all kinds of factors.”

In June, July, August and September there will be live performances and interactive, boundary-pushing theatre among the sculptures, with opening and closing weekend parties also on the agenda.


Opening on Wednesday at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen is Leoš Janáček's gripping masterpiece Jenůfa. It's set in a conservative countryside community, where the title character becomes pregnant with her cousin’s child and an ensuing entanglement of family dynamics and tarnished honour spans the opera. For his composition, Janáček was guided by the natural rhythm of the Czech language, resulting in an innovative operatic style through which Moravian folk music also becomes apparent in the score.

Robert Carsen’s production of Jenůfa has been performed in Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, France and Japan. This piece has a home in the repertoire at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen where it has been one of the opera house’s most successful productions. It runs from 5 to 16 June in Antwerp and 30 June to 9 July in Ghent.


British artist Tracey Emin has a new exhibition at the Xavier Hufkens Gallery in Brussels until 27 July entitled By the time you see me there will be nothing left. Since the early 90s, Emin has produced art that covers nearly all forms of expression including painting, print-making, drawing, film, photography, installations, appliqué, sculpture and neon text. Her new series of paintings for her latest show explore human emotions, specifically love in different forms.

Love, time and death are the throughlines of her works in Brussels. “She immerses herself deeper into the realm of painting, infusing her art with her personal experiences of love and mortality” the gallery states. Pieces such as You Loved Me Then and I Fucking Loved You capture moments of nostalgia and longing, rooted in the past, while Kissing, Lust and A Feeling embody the immediacy of the present. Please Keep Loving me echoes a sentiment of enduring hope, reflecting Emin's belief in the resilience and continuity of love.


The artist depicts herself in most of the works, either alone or with another person. She often depicts beds “presenting them as places with both positive and negative connotations: they can be sites of pain and pleasure, or dreams and torments. They remind us of home, but also of hospitals and convalescence. They are where we are born and, traditionally, where we die.”

Additional cultural coverage from Belga this week includes: Artist Luc Tuymans creates frescoes on Louvre walls based on his own missing works

​​Ongoing events

Old Paper? Photo Paper from the Gevaert Archive
5,000 cultural objects from the DR Congo, MAS
Josef and Anni Albers
Afrika Film Festival ​ ​
Jean-Michel Folon, A Journey in Brussels ​
Jef Verheyen: Window on Infinity KMSKA ​
Rodin: A Modern Renaissance





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