It’s that time of the year again: Antwerp Pride and Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. Pride focuses on the second weekend of August: from Wednesday 10 to Sunday 14. AQAF runs from 5 to 28 August. In 2022, Antwerp Pride turns 15 and looks 15 years into the future under the banner of ‘Queertopia‘. AQAF hasn’t communicated a specific theme.
Antwerp Queer Arts Festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival, that strives to inspire people to reflect on gender and sexual diversity.
“But queerness is more than that”, says Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. “It questions socially established norms and categories. It does away with labels altogether. It’s about new ways of being, perceiving, experiencing, embodying.”
‘Our bodies are sites of limitless possibilities’, reads this year’s AQAF poster. Brazilian performer Andras_2020 is wearing shiny, overknee boots and stares ahead, fashionably bored.
The human body and the arts – they seem to be inseparable. Whether it concerns depicted bodies, through another body’s gaze, the use and presence of bodies in artists’ creative processes, or the way we alter our bodies to express ourselves, just like Andras is doing on the cover photo. During the festival, Andras will use
their body and voice throughout an ecstatic set that spirals around transformation, energy and unapologetic queerness.
“Let’s think of our bodies as sources of wisdom, intelligence and empowerment – it stores all the experiences of the soul. In this sense, all bodies, regardless of gender, race, disability or age, have infinite potential.”
5 to 28 August
The 2022 edition of AQAF runs from 5 to 28 August at various locations in Antwerp.
You can expect a variety of art forms and artists, such as Arno Verbruggen, who deconstructs the story of Sodom through contemporary dance, and the Latin music performer Ariah Lester, who fuses classical with contemporary theatre and brings us pop opera that speaks to everyone’s heart.
On view during the entire festival are, among other, the works of Yamuna Forzani, inspired by the ballroom scene, and the eclectic sculptures of Nathan French, which explore the human quest for identity.
There will be music by Hilke Ros, who’s in search of her own voice, somewhere on the spectrum between male and female, together with the queer punk from Argentinian band Blanco Teta.
There are workshops as well. You can join, for instance, the ‘Yummy Body Truck‘ project, where you work on a large malleable body consisting of dough. Next to that, we have queer movie screenings and a literature night, where Maud Vanhauwaert showcases the amazing things that queer writers are doing.
Meanwhile six aspiring young artists will take over De Studio and prepare a showcase of their work for you during Queer Lab. And there’s much more.
Friday 5 August: Opening Exhibition
At 5 PM at Extra City/ Morpho, Provinciestraat 112, 2018 Antwerp.
“We are excited to be working with some new partners: this year AQAF brings visual arts at Extra City, Morpho, Kavka Oudaan and The Other Space. The exhibition will run from August 5-28 and will include a diverse range of artists: Nathan French, Yamuna Forzani, Anna Urazova, Laurent Poisson, Hussein Shikha and Denys Shantar. The exhibition will consist of drawings, painting, sculpture, video and textile art.
Saturday 6 August: Opening Concert
At 8 PM at Kavka Oudaan.
Kick-off on Saturday with a live concert by Eyemèr and ex-Amatorski Hilke. “Eyemèr is an indie singer-songwriter whose work is influenced by artists such as Soko, Daughter, Bon Iver and Waxahatchee. Arlo Devreese’s fragile, raw voice and dark lo-fi sound have become their trademark. 2022, Eyemèr delivered a 3rd EP: ‘Transition Town’. This album tells the story of their physical and mental transition as a transgender person in these past few years.”
Hilke is a former member of the Belgian dream pop outfit Amatorski and released some electronic tracks under the moniker Hroski. Now she shows herself in all honesty under her own name: Hilke. During the creation process of her debut album, Hilke was searching for her own voice, somewhere on the spectrum between male and female. The songs on ‘Silent Violent‘ are sometimes danceable, often slow, both deranging and soothing, fragile, but confident, like you would be dancing on ice. Pumping basses and banging electronic beats are combined with angelic vocals and melancholic atmospheres, dystopian vocal chops and chilling and breath-taking build-ups. ‘Silent Violent’ has become a disturbing journey wandering between the dance floor, consoling goosebump moments and socially critical contemplation.
Sunday 7 August: queer birds watching in Stadspark
2 PM, Stadspark.
In the summer of 2021, a flock of queer birds in Athens – during the Queer Archive Festival – launched a playful, interactive and participatory performance entitled ‘Bird Watching: techniques for spotting and identifying queer identities‘.
They collectively tried to think about whether and to what extent slow, mindful and intentional watching can help both the observed and the observers deal better with situations of seeing, ‘reading’ and identifying one another. This summer queer ‘birds’ will land in Antwerp and specifically at Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. Christina Tricha and Anna Schlooz will help you navigate.
Sunday 7 August: ‘Chimera Gastronomy: Malleable flesh, amalgamated bodies, and plastic kinship’
2 PM, Kavka Oudaan.
With the support of the Institute of Queer Ecology, Noam Youngrak Son has developed the workshop ‘Chimera Gastronomy: Malleable flesh, amalgamated bodies, and plastic kinship’.
In the workshop, a group works individually and collectively on a large malleable body consisting of dough. During the kneading, identities, gender and notions surrounding ethics are discussed and reflected. The co-created edible sculpture is thus a translation of our collective and personal struggles, interspecies discoveries and political feelings around bodies in this society. The result of the workshop will be exhibited as a sculptural form. According to Son, this result is a so-called Chimera: a living being that arises from cell mixing.
Thursday 11 August: Queer Lab
8 PM, De Studio.
Seven young aspiring artists were invited to exchange and experiment during ten days at De Studio. They will proudly present the outcome of that process.
- Arno Verbruggen, 8 PM and 10.15 PM. “Art is where my heart is. I position Art at the level of God and Art is the way to freedom and freedom is our holy work”, says performer Arno Verbruggen. They took the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorra, combined with personal experiences and brings to the stage the work in progress that is ‘SODOM‘.
- Andras_2020, 9 PM. Andras_2020 is a nonbinary dancer and musician from Brazil, based in Germany since 2017. Together with 3D animator Lukas Becker, they bring to the stage an audio-visual performance with tracks from Andras’ debut EP ‘Cuerpo Temperamental‘ and unreleased works. The performance spirals around transformation, energy and unapologetic queerness. Andras uses their body and voice throughout an ecstatic set while Lukas’ visual landscapes tops the work with shifting shapes and otherworldly creatures.
- Blanco Teta, 10 PM. Blanco teta is an experimental punkrock project, with the aggressiveness and simplicity of punk but with a great twist: a relentless distorted noise soundscapes, edgy performances, transfeminist and queer concept with an avant-garde approach. Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, born in 2017 with the need to find a unique sound with an atypical formation, given by the presence of the processed cello. Blanco Teta is formed by Carola Zelaschi on drums, Carlos E. Quebrada on electric bass and Violeta García on cello. They had released their first Album ‘Blanco Teta’ on tape in 2017 under the record label TVLREC and during 2019 they recorded their second album which was released in March 2020 through the label Gozarecords. More than a band, Blanco Teta is a performative and visual proposal that establishes a dialogue with the audience. Going to a Blanco Teta show is an immersive experience with high levels of relentless energy and madness. Blanco Teta represents a great movement that articulates with other transfeminist experimental collectives from the upcoming and uprising queer latinx scene. They have played in numerous popular venues in the Buenos Aires experimental scene. They had their first tour abroad in 2019 in Uruguay. In 2020 they had a confirmed tour in Colombia and Europe and was cancelled due to the current pandemic. They are now working on ‘Rompepaga‘ their third album.
Friday 12 August: Queer Lab (part 2)
- ‘Can touch this‘, Mery Thi Coopman and Renata Lamenza, 8 PM and 10 PM. Mery Thi and Renata’s artistic practices meet for the first time in 2016 with the common urge to explore the perspectives on the female body through performance. In 2018, they collaborated in the framework of Renata’s research project: ‘Talk to me: feminine conversations between body, costume and movement‘. Her research brought the perspective of gender inside the act of creating costume and movement where the body was experienced as a platform of experimentation. Mery Thi and Renata collaborated in the 7th edition of the project ‘Talk to me, conversation #6.9: can touch this‘, which talks about eroticism from a female perspective guided and inspired by the book ‘King Kong Theory‘ by Virginie Despentes.’Can touch this’ is an immersive installation and performance that accommodated a limited number of audience members per session, in a red atmosphere where light and scenography were guiding the trajectory.
- Ariah Lester, 9 PM. Soul, hip-hop and sexy falsettos with an operatic touch. Ariah Lester is an electronic music project based in Berlin and Amsterdam. The charismatic performer Ariah Lester quickly established himself internationally. With his clear countertenor, he guides his audience into a world where one reality almost imperceptibly transitions into another. In 2017 he won the Sabam Jongtheaterschrijfprijs at Theater Aan Zee and in 2019 he received a nomination for the BNG Bank Theaterprijs. Ariah brings you a collection of songs that will take you from the burning fire of hell into the gates of cosmic love.
- DJ sets Blanco Teta, 10 PM. Cosmic love all the way. Members of transfeminst punk band Blanco Teta, Violeta and Carlos, return to the stage with a DJ set. Violeta serves experimental electronic while Carlos delivers underground reggaeton, latinx club and Indu/pakistani Tribal. Party on, darling.
Saturday 20 August: ‘Clit & Plak’
2 PM, Location to be announced.
In this workshop, stereotypes about queer 50+ women and non-binary individuals get challenged by making erotic collages and/or zines. “Our goal is to create a safe(r) space in which women and non-binary people can take their pens, scissors and glue sticks and work together to dismantle heteronormative ideas about their sexuality.”
Drawing a queer Kamasutra, write pieces of erotic literature, coloring vaginas… it’s all possible! We will provide the necessary inspiration by bringing adult coloring books, magazines, and erotic books. The end result can be made into a zine (when participants consent to that).
Saturday 20 August: However, a very nice literary evening
‘Een nochtans hele leuke literaire avond’, 8 PM, Kavka Oudaan.
Maud Vanhauwaert hosted her very own literary lez fest four years ago during AQAF. This year, she will be the host of ‘Een nochtans hele leuke literaire avond‘.
The recipe remains more or less the same: we serve you a diverse line-up of lesbian/queer/non-binary/trans defining authors and spoken word artists. We have among others Siska Baeck, Michiko Lii, Femke Vindevogel, Maya Wuytack, Sarah Bekambo and Anna Borodikhina.
Sunday 21 August: film at De Cinema
‘Easy Tiger‘, by Karel Tuytschaever. 2.15 PM. De Cinema. An unexpected moment in a session with a client confronts a psychologist with his own inner world. Alienated by the isolation of his seemingly perfect city life, the psychologist encounters an extreme inability to understand and embrace his own human nature. His inescapable desires for his male client force the psychologist to look at who he does not want to be. It is the only way that he can find out who he really is. ‘Easy Tiger’ is an intimate portrait of a vulnerable man during a true and insurmountable romance. This author’s film examines how the medium of film can be commemorated and used to place physicality as a narrative in front of the lens, and how the same audiovisual work can provide, as much as possible, the same experience for both hearing and non/partially-hearing viewers.
‘Rebel Dykes‘ by Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams. 5.15 PM. De Cinema. ‘Rebel Dykes’ tells the story of a group of women who create a community around the first lesbian fetish club in the world, London’s Chain Reaction. ‘Rebel Dykes’ arrives in all its ass-kicking, leather-wearing glory. The film follows a tight-knit group of friends who met at Greenham Common peace camp and went on to become artists, performers, musicians and activists in London. A heady mash-up of animation, archive footage and interviews tells the story of a radical scene: squatters, BDSM nightclubs, anti-Thatcher rallies, protests demanding action around AIDS and the fierce ties of chosen families. This is an extraordinarily privileged glimpse into a bygone world by those who not only lived out their politics with heartfelt conviction but lived to tell the tale.
Queer Shorts, 8.15 PM, De Cinema.
- ‘Dustin‘, by Naïla Guiguet (France). In an abandoned warehouse, a crowd is dancing as one on 145 BPM techno music. Among them is Dustin, a young transgender and crew: Felix, Raya and Juan. As the night draws on, collective hysteria morphs into sweet melancholy, and euphoria into yearning for tenderness.
- ‘Unlivable‘, by Matheus Farias Enock Carvalho (Brazil). In Brazil, where a trans person is murdered every three days, Marilene searches for her daughter Roberta, a trans woman who went missing. While running out of time, she discovers a hope for the future.
- ‘The Night Train‘, by Jerry Carlson (Sweden). Oskar is on the night train, heading home after an interview in Stockholm. With a long night ahead of him, he makes eye contact with Ahmad. For the first time he meets the gaze of someone who feels the same desire as he does.
- ‘Borekas‘, by Saleh Saadi (Palestine). A breakdown on the way to the airport provides a father and son with an opportunity to reconnect.
- ‘4.6 kms‘ by Alexander Auris (Belgium). Six queer people walk along a route that connects two different neighborhoods in Brussels. They don’t know each other but share the city. They move, act, behave and use it in different ways. Through their eyes, we experience the spaces that the route connects. It is 4.6 km long and passes by the center of Brussels where a theater, a gay street, and a park are located.
- ‘Kiss‘, by Chou Tung-Yen (Taiwan). In search of an unreachable fantasy, K strays into a desolate gay sauna. The decadent and damp smell permeates the rooms, and sounds of groans and licks still echo between the narrow hallways. An old tree seemed to have taken root in these moist quarters. Now only its withered branches remain, stretching out, longing for something. In this apocalyptic era, intimacy has become a tale of the past. The loneliness that is inherent in times of epidemics and isolation prevails and arouses the instinctive longings for each other’s touch and the endless search for oneself.
- ‘Far From Me’ by Ila Pittaluga (Belgium). Mirrored short-film – both audio and images are mirrored, played in reverse until halfway of the film then they change direction. Image and audio cross, but they are never aligned. This makes a tone deaf parallel of what it feels like being Queer in a heteronormative society: no matter the choices you make, no matter how you feel, it’s like you never totally fit in… But it’s still worth it. As a result of this technique, we wanted the public to rediscover the second half in a totally different tone than the first watch.
Friday 26 August: Queer Choir Amsterdam + Closing Party
At Extra City. No time communicated.
Queer Choir Amsterdam is an artistic initiative that premises the creation of a brave space to celebrate unique identities and voices. Through their rehearsals and performances they express their ideas for the futures they desire and the narratives they want to share. In the unification of voices, Queer Choir Amsterdam creates harmonies, but also distinctively recognises the varied nature of the human voice and honing agency over our voices.
Queer Choir Amsterdam was founded by artists Shreya de Souza, Mylou Oord and Sarah Naqvi and is conducted by Vera Morais. Queer Choir Amsterdam is currently carried on by Shreya, Mylou and Vera.
You will need tickets for many of the events. So go to QueerArts.be for the latest information, updates and tickets.
Does Antwerp Queer Arts Festival sound a bit high brow to you? Not in the classical ballet and opera sense of the word, but in the in-crowd vs out-crowd sense of the term. If you’re not up to date with what the Zeitgeist is in the queer community, AQAF’s programme doesn’t not sound very attractive or even welcoming.
Maybe then try the film night on 21 August or one of the parties.
Antwerp Pride 2022 & Antwerp Queer Arts Festival 2022
- Antwerp Pride 2022 theme, programme and schedule.
- ANTWERP PRIDE 2022 | ‘Trail of Stories’ from 1 to 31 August.
- Antwerp Queer Arts Festival 2022 from 5 to 28 August.
- Full edition ft. parade and festival days for Antwerp Pride 2022.
- Antwerp Pride 2022 from 10 to 14 August for a 15th edition.
- Open Call for contributors for Antwerp Queer Arts Festival 2022.
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | De Gerlachekaai at the Scheldt.
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | Sint-Andriesplein.
- Antwerp Pride 2021: “Long time, no see”.
- Rainbow zebra crossings of Antwerp.
- Rainbow zebra crossing in Borgerhout.
- Antwerp’s LGBTQIA+ bookshop Kartonnen Dozen needs new location by September 2022.
- City chronicle ‘De kleur van de stad maakt mijn ziel amoureus’ recounts Queer Antwerp history.
- ‘Masculinities: Liberation through Photography’ exhibition at FOMU, Antwerp’s photography museum.
- Antwerp’s LGBTQI bookshop Kartonnen Dozen looking for a new home.
- Antwerp’s LGBTQI+ bookshop Kartonnen Dozen wins Çavaria Media Award.
- PHOTOS | Rainbows lit Antwerp.
- Flemish LGBTQI+ press support rainbow community in Ukraine.
- ALLEMAAL ANTWERPENAAR | Antwerp launches campaign to motivate citizens to stand up against discrimination and intimidation.