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TRACK a Contemporary City Conversation

By Astrid Peeters

Because Belgium is enjoying warm weather for the first time this year, the TRACK exhibition seemed by far the best thing to do on a sunny day! There’s the option of both indoor and outdoor artworks, but I chose to visit solely the ones outdoors. The exhibition consists of 41 international artists whose work is scattered all over the city (please note, to see each work of art, you probably need more than one day). Lucky for us, the ticket you need -- to visit the works inside -- is valid from the moment you buy it till the 16th of September. You also get bonus points, so you can visit the works you like more than once. The city is divided into 6 clusters, each with a meeting point (where you can go for information and maps) and various unmanned work outside, which I was interested in. It is possible to reach all the clusters by foot, but you can also rent a bike or use public transport.

Unfortunately, in some cases, I simply could not find the artwork! The signs, in the colors of each cluster, were not always clear and people passing by couldn’t help me either. In addition, the exhibition showed some minor problems, as some works have not yet arrived, etc. But the works that I did see were more than worth it. Allow me to point out two of the most exhilarating ones:

I started in the cluster around SMAK, the contemporary art museum of Ghent, and was pleasantly surprised by the work there. Leo Copers, an artist from the city itself, placed dozens of tombstones with the names of museums, from the Guggenheim to Museum Ludwig Köln. World famous or lesser-known museums, they all make an appearance. I must say, it was very strange to walk among these tombstones. The press text states that the artist is critical on the museum setting of certain cemeteries (think Père Lachaise) and the popularization of museums. He certainly has a point, but to give the impression as if the museums themselves are dead? Certainly this work gives much to talk about.

The Citadelpark, where the artwork is placed, is really great to walk around. The same great atmosphere prevailed in the garden of the Sint-Pietersabdij. There is the work of Massimo Bartolini. The small field with a ruin and an orchard is now complemented with a library. Several bookshelves are placed in the extension of vines. It was great to wander between the rows of books, with the sun above my head and to see people studying under the trees. If this part of Ghent has not conquered your heart yet, you can be sure that the rest of the city will. During your next trip to Europe (particularly Belgium), try Ghent instead of Brussels or Bruges.

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Astrid Peeters, a Belgian PR student with a background in art history. She studies in Antwerp, Belgium’s unofficial fashion capital and tries to visit as many exhibitions as possible around the world.

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