Lifting the veil from Brussels' latest pop-synth enigma
The beginning of a new dawn. After five years, the growth of the music and arts festival Horst caused a location change from the idyllic green site around the Horst Castle to ASIAT, a former desolate military base with two nuclear cooling towers located in Vilvoorde-North. A challenge, but also a door to lots of new possibilities. In light of the introduction of Horst Exhibition and Lab, we talked to co-organiser Tim Borguet about the desire to impact their surroundings and transcend the typical festival formula.
Interview by Dennis Meersman
Photos shot at HORST (2014-2018) and ASIAT
We want to see Horst more as a movement rather than just a festival
Can you describe the essence of Horst?
Horst is an arts and music festival. Over the years, it grew into an internationally renowned platform for showcasing cutting-edge electronic music as well as inventive in-situ art and architecture. For the past five editions, we held expositions during the festival. The vernissage of these exhibitions was also the opening of the festival, and the synergy of those two worlds blossomed around the historical Castle of Horst in Holsbeek. After five years, we decided to expand our goals for the event. We want to see Horst more as a movement rather than just a festival: a movement for arts and music that focuses on the development of talent, places and cities.
Why are you moving out?
After five editions, we realised that the growth of the festival was damaging the site. That didn’t match our ambitions of the coming years anymore. Now we want to have a bigger impact in a more (sub)urban context. We have a lot of respect for the site of the Castle, since it has given us so much. It would be a shame to further damage it. Out of mutual respect, we began our search for a new place.
With a heavy heart?
The Castle of Horst will always feel like home. But we like to look at the future now. There are lots of challenges ahead at ASIAT in Vilvoorde. We’re not mourning too hard, it’ll always stay a fantastic nostalgic memory. We’ve had beautiful moments there, it laid out the groundwork for Horst.
ASIAT is a former military domain along the Zenne river in Vilvoorde-North. The city bought the site since it had been deserted for a while. In the long run, they want to redevelop the North side to a vibrant part of the city. In that sense our ambitions overlap; we also want to have a positive impact on these kinds of places and cities.
We want to have a positive impact on these kinds of places and cities
Does it feel like a fresh start?
The traditional ingredients of Horst stay the same. We still listen to music with the same ears and we still promote the duality between arts and music. But it definitely feels like a new chapter with new accents, such as the development aspect we’re introducing with the Horst Labs.
What about Horst Lab?
Horst Lab is the new dimension were adding to the festival. It is a pillar meant for the development of talent.
A live changing experience because of the intense networking opportunity with like-minded people
It arose from the architecture workshop we did last year, where a selection of 25 international people helped design and build the main stage over a period of two weeks. Afterwards, the participants told us it was a life-changing experience because of the intense networking opportunity with like-minded people. So we thought that if we could do this for architecture, why not do it for other disciplines? That’s why this year, we’re introducing the labs for design, music, art and architecture. The labs start in the beginning of July, and the result of the labs will be shown at the opening of the exhibition. More info on the labs and the date for applications will appear online in the beginning of May, so stay tuned!
Another pillar is Horst Exhibition. Will it differ from the exhibitions from previous editions?
The big difference between the past editions and the upcoming one, is that the exhibition used to open alongside the festival and go on until the autumn. Now, the exhibition starts before the festival in the summer on July 14th. By doing this we want to familiarise the people with the site already. Like in Holsbeek, a series of artists are invited, to reflect on the space. But unlike in Holsbeek, they’ll also work around a zeitgeist or vision. The festival will be the final celebration of the exhibition.
You’re working with a new curator for the exhibition?
The past editions were curated by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh. This year we’re working with Evelyn Simons, a young curator and art writer who has already curated for numerous art institutions. She is more closely involved in the functioning of Horst. In fact, she’s literally part of the team, which increases her influence on the exhibition. It’s a more integrated curatorship.
Horst is also expanding with a new stage. What can we expect?
We’re introducing a fourth stage. It’ll be a mix of lectures and performances by day, and music by night.
We’re introducing a 4th stage
The line-up is already announced! What are you looking forward to?
Of course I look forward to heavy hitters like Marcel Dettman. There are also some artists with nostalgic value who already played Horst a few times like Motor City Drum Ensemble and Shanti Celeste. Otherwise there’s a whole list of new and more adventurous names who are doing something unique, like Gesloten Cirkel and Céline Gillain.
What are the ambitions of Horst?
I think that 2019’ll be an intense acquaintance with the raw and urban context of ASIAT. It has two iconic cooling towers in the background which we’ll integrate in the experience. It’s a big challenge, but it’s also something distinctive. It’ll be a site where there’ll be a lot to discover. Al these little corners and different areas, indoors and outdoors. On the other hand, we want to attract more people from Brussels. I believe that if we manage to maintain the Horst identity in the urban environment, it would be a fantastic first step in this new chapter.
13-15 Sept – ASIAT, Kerkhofstraat 1, Vilvoorde
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