Brussels has a lot in common with Athens. They are both capitals of states born in the 19th century, almost simultaneously. They are formed by the same anxiety to enter the modern era of national states. Both cities show that the stories we tell don’t describe the world, but formulate it.
The production of the “Reception” in Brussels began in 2018. After two years of discussions, we began research on the initiative of the Center for the Research of the Performing Arts (CIFAS) and the support of the House of Spectacle (Maison du Spectacle) La Bellone. With the dramaturgy contribution of Camille Louis, an old friend and colleague, we have started to scour the streets and memories of this great city.
When looking Brussels side by side with Athens, they offer a privileged point of view, they are on the diagonal edge of Europe and thus surface similarities and differences that mutually lighten both cities. The gaze goes back and forth from Southern to Northern and from Eastern to Western Europe. The themes are many and exciting when you put the one next to the other; the medieval historical depth of the two cities, the entry into Modernity and Nationalism, the almost simultaneous independence of Belgium and Greece, the King of Belgium who almost became the King of Greece, the disappearance of both cities from the symbols that have been associated with them (the Golden Antiquity on the one hand and the institutional project of the European Union on the other), their political angst, urban violence, hidden waters and hidden past, political and cultural gaps, narrative constructions and their implications etc. All these and more are perceived in the streets and buildings and we want to organize and share them with the public.
We hold meetings with experts and citizens, people we meet by chance and others passionate about the War of Ideas. Brussels is magical, full of reasons to think about European and global context. The questions remain though; How does one avoid the obvious? How does one pass through the current affairs to what gives depth transfiguring this airlessness condition of urgency into a prospect of understanding?