FREETOWN is a creative sanctuary in Belgium. It is a fictional and modular city that embodies the essence of artistic freedom, inclusivity and community. The name is a nod to the capital of Sierra Leone, which was founded in the late eighteenth century as a symbol of emancipation and liberation. In FREETOWN, a dozen artists of colour invite audiences to unite, to engage in dialogue, and to embrance encounters across cultures and art disciplines. The concept is modular and sustainable. Architect Olivier Goethals’ design is constructed from containers and scaffolding. It is also multidisciplinary: in addition to installations, it also accommodates performances and textile work.
Brahim Tall’s flags are close-ups of sweating bodies that dance to their own rhythms in the wind. NML Art Project’s LED displays share what you always wanted to say but couldn’t. Younes Baba-Ali’s performance and installation are inspired by street vendors in Italy. Aurélie Adriaen makes masks that she activates with smoke. Festival-goers are invited to take a seat in Agnes Kena’s photobooth, while Yi Zhang crystallises seawater into sculptures. Armin Alian, Souhaila Maalem, Kenny Mala Ngombe, Sofie Anny Nicea and Diane Marie Uwase will all be working live at the site, creating drawings, paintings and textiles.
Magali Elali, of arts organisation The Constant Now, says: “Many talk about it, but few actually do it: making the art world more diverse and inclusive is the core message. With exhibitions, projects and mentoring programmes, we break through the norm and bring a breath of fresh air to the arts landscape.” To make the call for greater diversity resonate with a wide audience, they collaborate with museums, such as S.M.A.K in Ghent, or partner with festivals, such as WECANDANCE and P&V Bomboclat. “The idea is to expand the playing field by enabling broad collaboration with more partners and museums,” Elali says. “Festival visitors are ready and willing to discover new things, so why not introduce new artists of colour?”
Artists participating in FREETOWN: Aurélie Adriaen, Armin Alian, Younes Baba-Ali, Agnes Kena, Sofie Anny Nicea, NML Art Project, Souhaila Maalem, Kenny Mala Ngombe, Brahim Tall, Diane Marie Uwase and Yi Zhang.
FREETOWN is an initiative of The Constant Now in collaboration with S.M.A.K. Moves. Because all the organisations champion diversity, both front of house and behind the scenes, they are the ideal partners for the FREETOWN art project. The initiative is supported by Flanders.
You can visit FREETOWN during the day between 12:00 and 20:00 on Zeebrugge beach during the WE CAN DANCE and P&V Bomboclat festivals. FREETOWN is only accessible if you have tickets for the music festivals. After Zeebrugge, the initiative will travel to other locations in Flanders.