Only a week after the death of Jan Hoet, another of Ghent’s creative talents has died. Gerard Mortier, 70, the former director of the Brussels opera house De Munt, died at his home last weekend from cancer. The 2009 edition of The Low Countries Yearbook featured an article on Mortier. Read it here.
The Low Countries
This English-language blog, which is linked to the yearbook, The Low Countries, offers news about language, culture and society in the Low Countries for a broad foreign public.
The Flemish art curator Jan Hoet died today in a Ghent hospital at the age of 77. Born in Leuven in 1936, Hoet was a flamboyant and charismatic figure who frequently shook up the Belgian art world.
The Flemish and Dutch governments have set aside a joint budget of €340,000 to mark 20 years of cultural cooperation in 2015. The two regions concluded the Flemish-Dutch Cultural Treaty on 17 January 1995 to work together on culture, education, science and welfare and a commission was established on 2 April 1998 to supervise the implementation of the treaty.
The Flemish government has followed the Dutch by creating a single brand for all government departments. The most noticeable change is that the rampant Flemish lion with claws bared has been replaced by a softer image showing just part of a lion’s face. The logo is accompanied by two new slogans: “verbeelding werkt” (imagination works) in Dutch and “state of the art” in English.
An exciting new solo show by Flemish artist Michaël Borremans opens at Bozar on 22 February. The exhibition titled As Sweet As It Gets brings together about 100 works created by the artist over the past 20 years.
As part of a season of programmes to mark the outbreak of World War One, BBC London Radio is to broadcast a story on Belgian refugees arriving in Britain in August 1914.
The Museum Huis Doorn has been awarded a €450,000 subsidy by the Dutch BankGiro Loterij to organise a major exhibition on the Dutch role in the First World War. The 17th century Huis Doorn in the Utrecht uplands was where Kaiser Wilhelm found asylum after fleeing from Germany at the end of the First World War. An article by Luc Devoldere on Huis Doorn will be published in the next edition of The Low Countries Yearbook in April 2014.
Some countries in Europe like Switzerland and the United Kingdom want to reinforce border controls but at least the Belgian and French governments remain committed to the idea of a Europe without frontiers.
The Flemish government demonstrated its commitment earlier this week by sending in construction vehicles to tear down an abandoned border post on the E17 motorway between Kortrijk and Lille.
The literary bookshop Het Paard van Troje in Ghent has refused to stock Kristien Hemmerechts' latest novel, according to reports in the Flemish press. The bookshop – recently voted the best in the Low Countries – has said it doesn’t want to stock copies of Hemmerechts’ controversial new novel De vrouw die de honden eten gaf (The women who fed the dogs).
The children’s graphic novel De Kleuren van het getto (The War within these Walls) by Flemish writer Aline Sax has won the Jewish Book Council’s award for best children’s book. It also received a silver medal from the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for “an older children’s book that explains the Jewish experience in an authentic way”. The book was illustrated by the Polish-Dutch graphic artist Caryl Strzelecki.