The 2015 Bruges Triennial of Contemporary Art and Architecture is taking place at a time of rapid growth in the global population and of the rise of mega-cities.

2015 Bruges Triennial

Between utopia and dystopia: The city as a solution or as a problem?

20 May – 18 October 2015

Brugge, Belgium

Curators: Till-Holger Borchert, Lies Coppens, Michel Dewilde

Since 2007 more than sixty percent of the world population has lived in an expanding network of very large, unfinished cities. We are at a tipping point in the history of mankind. Attitudes to this phenomenon of global urbanization differ. On the one hand, a number of experts like Benjamin Barberi portray the city as the solution to a range of global problems. Where the traditional sovereign nation state and large international organizations fail, Barber sees the liberating potential of the city. Eric Corijnii also believes that cities are increasingly junctions for social and political reconstruction. Ruth Eatoniii, on the other hand, refers to the detrimental consequences of global urbanization and to its damaging legacy.

The Triennial is sinking its teeth into this fascinating and very real phenomenon in the unique setting of a historic city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Central to the Triennial is the question of the future identity of the city and its possible role in the rapidly rising levels of urbanization: “What can Bruges distil from the recent evolutions that typify the mega-cities?” And conversely: “Can a small city that is protected by UNESCO contribute to the development of a new form of urbanization?”

In this connection, the curators juxtapose two fictions: the representation of Bruges as a static medieval city versus the dynamic image of the unfinished global city.

The curatorial team has linked the two fictions by means of the hypothetical question: “What would happen if the five million people who visit Bruges every year suddenly decided to settle here permanently?”

Each of the invited European and Asian artists will interpret this area of tension in their own way. They will link the fields of contemporary art and architecture against the background of the intact historic city centre. Each of the outdoor works will be specially conceived for the 2015 Triennial. The end result of this process will be on show in the public space from May 20th to October 18th 2015, and then disappear from the cityscape. In addition to the outdoor art trail, there will be indoor exhibitions in various locations.


The artists invited to create work for the public space include Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), Bruce Odland (US) & Sam Auinger (A) (O+A), Vibeke Jensen (NO), Song Dong (CH), Nathan Coley (UK), Studio Mumbai (IN), Tadashi Kawamata (JP) and Anne Katrine Senstad (NO).


As well as the exhibition in the public space, several indoor exhibitions will be organized at De Bond, Arentshuis, the Town Hall and the Spanish warehouses.

A team of curators is responsible for the artistic direction of the Triennial.

Till-Holger Borchert, Till-Holger Borchert is an art historian, author and museum curator from Hamburg. He studied art history, literature and musicology at the University of Bonn and at Indiana University in Bloomington, taught art history at the Universities of Aachen and Memphis, and has been chief curator of the Groeningemuseum in Bruges since 2003. He curated exhibitions on Van Eyck, Memling and other Old Master painters in Bruges, as well as critically acclaimed exhibitions in Brussels (Bozar), Maastricht (Bonnefantenmuseum). Madrid (Museo Thyssen Bornemisza), New York (The Frick Collection), Rome (Scuderie di Quirinale) . He was furthermore involved in shows Beijing, Washington, Paris, Rome, Cleveland and Dijon.

Lies Coppens, Freelance Curator

Michel Dewilde is an art historian and curator from Ghent. He studied art history and archaeology at the Ghent University, gender studies at the University of Antwerp and gender and post-colonial studies at the Utrecht University. He curated at MSK (Ghent), SMAK (Ghent), Gynaika (Antwerp) and the Cultural Centre of Bruges. He was freelance curator at Poëziezomers Watou, Ename Acuteel, Betoverd Bos (Aalter), Be-Part (Waregem), CAB (Brussels), Recyclart (Brussels), Annie Gentils Gallery (Antwerp), WARP (Sint-Niklaas), Azad Gallery (Tehran), De Witte Zaal (Ghent), Vrije Academie (Den Haag), etc.

Read more about Bruges Triennial