Written by Antony Mason
More than 300 events will take place in and around Mons during 2015, involving some 5,000 artists and 400 organisations. Here is a selection of them. The year is divided into four seasons, starting in January, April, June and September. For more information, visit www.mons2015.eu.
Season 1: L’Eblouissement (The Dazzling) 24 Jan–31 Mar
24 Jan: Fête d’Ouverture (Opening Party) The formal opening, plus a weekend of taster events throughout the city: lightshow, parade of dragons, marching bands, multimedia installations, firework display.
24 Jan–12 Apr: Mons, Superstar! An exhibition at the Anciens Abattoirs looking at the men and women ofMons and the surrounding region who have helped to shape the city over the centuries.
25 Jan–17 May: Van Gogh in the Borinage – the birth of an artist A major exhibition at BAM (Beaux-Arts Mons) to commemorate the time (1878–80) that the young Vincent Van Gogh spent in the Borinage coal-mining district to the south of Mons, when he wanted to train as an evangelist preacher, and began to see his future as an artist. The exhibition includes some 70 paintings and drawings from this period.
20 Feb–17 May: Hollywood au Pied du Terril (Hollywood at the foot of the slagheap) Vincente Minnelli made cinematic history in 1955 when he filmed his biopic about Van Gogh, Lust for Life (starring Kirk Douglas), in original locations, including the industrial suburbs of Mons – breaking the MGM tradition of studio filming. The exhibition reveals what went on locally, aided by the accounts of people who witnessed it.
13 Mar–19 Dec: Café Europa The Mundaneum hosts live internet links with cafés all over Europe to exchange ideas and advice about new technologies.
Season 2: Le Grand Déballage (The Great Reveal) 1 Apr–27 Jun
3–5 Apr: Official Opening of Arsonic Inauguration of the new classical music venue.
4–5 Apr: Official Opening of Five New Museums Five new museums are opening their doors in Mons in 2015: Artothèque (Mons art and cultural collections), the Mons Memorial Museum (Word War I, and war in general), the Musée Doudou (the Doudou festival and St George and the Dragon), the Belfry (recently renovated, with a new interpretive centre) and SILEX’s (the neolithic flint mines at Spiennes).
4 Apr–21 Sep: Installations Urbaines Contemporary art hits the streets of Mons with a series of deliberately provocative outdoor installations.
31 May: Doudou de Mons Trinity Sunday is the day on which Mons’s great annual festival, the Ducasse de Mons (affectionately referred to as the ‘Doudou’), traditionally takes place. The holy relics of St Waudru are paraded around the city on a horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by a procession in medieval costume. This is followed by the Lumeçon in the Grand-Place, the ritual battle in which St George slays the Dragon.
12 Jun–29 May 2016: Mapping Knowledge in the Paper Google An opening interpretative exhibition to mark the reopening (after major restoration) of the Mundaneum – the ambitious attempt to catalogue all knowledge begun in 1895.
13 Jun–27 Sep: One Number, One Destiny: at the service of Napoleon Exhibition at the new Mons Memorial Museum about the role of Belgians who served in the French Army during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic era (1792–1815).
13 Jun–19 Oct: Atopolis A key art exhibition at the new renovated Manège de Sury (the covered military riding school), bringing together work by international artists on the theme of migration.
20 Jun–6 Sep: MONSens: Outsider Art Past and Present & Interaction Outsider art always poses fascinating questions, and well as displaying startling and unfettered innovation. This exhibition at BAM (Beaux-Arts Mons) looks at the way that attitudes to outsider art have changed over time, and also presents a project in which contemporary artists worked alongside people with mental disabilities.
Season 3: L’Eté Enflammé (The Blazing Summer) 28 Jun–25 Sep
4 Jul–4 Oct: La Chine Ardente An exhibition of Chinese avant-garde sculptural art at the Anciens Abattoirs.
17–26 Jul: 8000 Sunflowers on the Grand-Place A labyrinth of sunflowers to get lost in.
All August: Sun City Various entertainments include 250 deckchairs set out in the Grand-Place, from which to listen to musicians playing on a bandstand; an acrobatic circus (Compagnie XY) will be performing in the Jardins du Beffroi (Parc du Château), and there will be performances and fireworks on the Grand-Large marina.
6 Sep: Dimanche Toqué A gastronomic Sunday, held on the Grand-Place and the Jardins du Beffroi (Parc du Château).
Season 4: Renaissance 26 Sep–12 Dec
4–11 Oct: A Week with Roland de Lassus A week celebrating the (primarily) choral work of Roland de Lassus (or Orlando di Lasso, c1532–94), one of the greatest composers of the Renaissance, who was born and raised in Mons.
10–18 Oct: A Week with Jacques du Broeucq Jacques du Broeucq (1505–84) was one of the greatest sculptors and architects of his age, employed by Emperor Charles V, as well as by the Canonesses of St Waudru in Mons. His work will be celebrated in exhibitions and symposiums atMons and Boussu (10km west ofMons, where some of his sculpture survives in a chapel) and St Omer inFrance (where he may have been born).
17 Oct–24 Jan 2016: Verlaine, cell No.252: Poetic turbulences The French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine spent two years in Mons prison, as his punishment for wounding fellow poet, and his lover, Arthur Rimbaud with a revolver in Brussels in 1873. In documents, photographs, paintings and other artefacts the exhibition explores the background to this incident and the work that Verlaine wrote in prison and thereafter.
18 Oct–17 Jan 2016: L’Homme, le Dragon at la Mort (Man, the Dragon and death) A major exhibition at the MAC’s art centre, Grand-Hornu, on the theme of St George and the Dragon.
7 Nov–3 Jan 2016: D’Entre Eux (Some Among Them). Exhibition at the Salle Saint-Georges of the work of the Belgian photo-journalist Cédric Gerbehaye, noted in particular for his striking pictures of theMiddle East and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
12 December: Fête de Clôture (Closing Party)