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An immersion in the cracks, the non-productivity, and transcendence of the geological base of Brussels

Since 2021, Wouter De Raeve and I have been working in the Northern Quarter in Brussels on the choreographic research project I Build My Language With Rocks; a critical reading of top-down movements (large-scale urban plans), with a focus on the local movements in the neighbourhood. The notion of the swamp – one of the first forms of life buried under the asphalt in order for the city to be written – functions as a dramaturgical guidance throughout the project. Swamp Sacrifices emerges from this ongoing research and invites other practitioners to think along with us.


Swamp Sacrifices addresses the swamp and the water of the Zenne Valley. Historically, the swamp has been a place of non-productivity and, as such, a space for transcendence and spirituality. In Brussels, as in many other parts of Northern Europe, the swamp was a place of sacrifice, where people made offerings to gods, superior beings, and other worlds. But as the city evolved, the swamp has been forced to become a zone of productivity, inscribed in a capitalist thinking that reduces both life and death to a commodity. 


Today the Northern Quarter of Brussels is undergoing a process of intense transformation. The many construction sites in the neighbourhood are zones where the past and the future meet. These ‘holes in the ground’ could be seen as zones where the swamp emerges; whether we want it or not, the water and its complexity find their way through the cracks of our contemporary society. What are we to do with its presence? Are we going to ignore the swamp once more? What about getting into its waters? 


Over the course of one weekend, we will practise ways of getting closer to the swamp as a space of non-productivity and as a zone where the affective quality of the sacred can emerge. Far from proposing a single homogeneous ritual, we will rather attempt to experience the sacrifice as a body, trying to relate to its different organs and phases as an entity in a continuous process. The programme, which takes place in the valley of the river Zenne at M33 and KANAL Centre-Pompidou, and uphill at radical_house, is composed of workshops, a concert, and presentations. Swamp Sacrifices will be an interruption of a system that considers the swamp as an ‘annoying' body that needs to be made invisible. What happens if we approach the swamp as a non-productive and transcendental ecology?

The full programme will be released on the 1st of February!

Curation: Paula Almiron & Wouter De Raeve | In collaboration with: KANAL-Centre Pompidou & radical_house | Production: Hiros | Co-production: KANAL-Centre Pompidou | Graphic Design: Modem Studio | Copy editing: Simon Cowper | With support from: VGC | Special thanks to: Simon Asencio, Lietje Bauwens, Wim Cuyvers, Guy Gypens, Flore Herman, Katrien Reist.

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