zondag 18 juni 2017

Louve very heureuse






































Perchance was invited to a very agreeable recital in a private garden in Brussels, a bit like a forest clearing in the middle of the city, on a warm summer evening which could have been somewhere along the coast of Chile... 
An intimate and heartfelt offering of works by Violetta Parra, fifty years hence, gone from us at fifty years of age... by none other than her granddaughter Felisa Cereceda in duo with Ylva Berg as ‘La Louve Heureuse’ ... a rare treat. Accompanied by only the barest essentials, an Arauco drum and a string of shells, they gave strong and emotionally laden interpretations which harked back to the original, raw and engaged style that Violetta Parra herself might have appreciated... Over the years her songs have gone through various phases of popularization in various senses of the term... 

I had arrived in Chile some ten years after her death, in the dark times of the Pinochet regime, but her music was still omnipresent – something the Junta could not silence... and as such they became anthems to the struggle for freedom... Even though Violetta Parra’s songs were pre-Allende (lastly the Frei presidency) and about the disenfranchisement of  the poor & indigenous peoples rather than the disaster still to take place, it was partially the origin and represented the sentiment of change in Allende’s Unidad Popular, and adopted by the persecuted, with Victor Jarra’s martyrdom as catalyst - and exported to Europe...via groups like Inti-Illimani, especially Quilapayun, in which recently departed Angél Parra (son of Violetta) played a key role.
It is due to these groups that I first heard songs by Violetta Parra, versions my sisters had in their university record collection... and was a bit surprised to find they could be heard in Chile, since the aforementioned groups were prohibited, but Parra herself seen as heritage even if grudgingly, by the military regime... (there were enough records of the more revolutionary songs floating around in private circles though- so undermining any censorship anyway...) 
At the close of the seventies awareness sort of ebbed and attention focused more on Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador...) and discord in the aforementioned groups sort of had their toll also... resurgence (of ‘historico’ groups) in Chile itself with the restoration of democracy but also enshrining and in a way entombing the whole ‘folkloristic renewal’ while losing sight of the essentials...

Which is exactly what I felt one caught a glimpse of here in this small unpretentious garden-recital: back to the simple protestations and heartfelt concern for those less fortunate... the need for an emotional response rather than political machinations, the re-sourcing of self-worth in order to emphasize with others...  (...well,  with some socio-political aspects if you please,  especially the pre-colonial indigenous populations, befitting the recent trend of ‘decolonialization’ discourse...)
But the main appreciation is that of a personal warmth, the beautiful poetry, carried by well crafted voices, interchanging and mingling with the evening slowly descending on the small green oasis in the city...


Very much appreciated. Certainly to be looked out for (...venue mentioned on their blog....September 23, Antwerp?)

zaterdag 10 juni 2017

Broke Rocks

The sculpture projects at Münster  opens today, and reminds me of a note I had made earlier this year, at the passing of Gustav Metzger

Broke rocks

Gustav Metzger, one of those artists that gets / got under your skin...
The ones you absorb by osmosis rather than name crunching... My earliest memory is of the car with its exhaust connected to a plexi box on its roof, withering plants... I think a version of a project planned for Documenta 5, not sure, but as a youngster I thought " hey, neat..." and it sort of stuck... Only much later did I learn that Townsend’s guitar-bashing and copy-cats were also to be traced to his auto-destructive ideas, and were influential in my own auto-subversive series... Again, without realizing the origins, much like Filliou, and admittedly I did sort of mix them up for ever so long, perhaps because of the misfits-gig... But I did always hark back to the DIAS and must admit indebtedness for my auto-subversive series way back when...

Anyway, like many I had sort of lost sight of his work (short exception was Explosiv,) Köln ‘81) until I got involved in a re-launching of his 'art strike' (by stewart home) in the nineties... Whence I interconnected with Ruine in Geneva and Fri Art in Fribourg -   As well as various process-projects that could be linked to origins to do with Metzger’s work... But he was not on the radar much... (himself avoiding the art-zoo)  but that something that really jolted me back to consider Metzger as artist was stumbling across his broken rocks at the Münster Skulpturprojekte in 2007... Literally...

It was a chaotic an rainy opening... We had planned to meet up with friends and participating artists but were blown off course... Downpours sent people scattering for cover at regular intervals and as it was we were perfectly happy to just let the whole show impress on us rather that scurrying to and fro following a checklist of some sort... 
Anyway, as it happened it was during one of the downpours that we were hurrying along a path trying to share an umbrella when a pile of stones made our passage difficult... In fact nearly stumbled... Yes, Stolpersteine...
(were they already in the news at the time?)
Broken rocks, chain gang material... If it had not been for a small sign stating that this was in fact the work of Gustav Metzger I would not have known... Later even saw the guy with his forklift fetching some stones... But it was only afterwards I read about the work and its computer generated chance distribution of rocks here and there... Ah equivalence! So it had been since the strike that I had encountered his work again... As it turns out he had been quite active... In my mind he was still under the radar investigating... But no, he had resurfaced and was still as vibrant & critical as ever... Even though in some ways perhaps recuperated by the establishment... But aware of that fact and making use of it.. And later work still could count on my approval... The intervention at the Haus der Kunst (former national socialist temple), the hidden photographs in full view, history winks... The flight ban for art-hoppers, and last but not least his call the head off extinction, remember nature, which we also contributed to... But alas, now a memory... Ist nicht mehr... In memoriam... And hopefully to continue in his vein.


(only just recently learnt more of his Antwerp connection... There was an interesting talk by ..... At the local university... Already planned before his death, mainly in reference to his work shown at Documenta 13 which I missed... but already during the famous fifth Documenta (or was it the first Skulpturprojekte?) his proposal for a work with car exhaust was very visionary, even if difficult to realize – now still, we’re arguing about the way we mistreat our environment... )

our cat investigating Metzgers open call / via Point d'Ironie


zondag 5 maart 2017

quel chose



























It had been a while since there was again a more or less performative sculpture evening at Buktapaktop – literature with some perf, song with some perf, but this time the space was more of a scene itself, which was nice – set, the scene as it were by a girl crushed by the weight of scenery. For a moment Bukta became Aleppo and the victims crushed in their nightgowns, dusted by debris, still breathing... she remained there for an hour which was already disconcerting – how must it be for the real victims of the rubble-rousing disaster which has befallen Syria, no soap. 
Hap-hopping pep-talk on how to ameliorate your being – you well-being, you self-being and the relation to the world around you- hop to it, get involved, just short of physical (can’t get that tune out of my head now...) go for it, advised and coached by professional know-it-alls, grouped together in team spirited upstarts, groomed by corporate web-talk and supporting human resource junkies... Yes! Yes Yesss...











Collectif Chôse
An interesting alternating mix of integrated performance, lecture and visuals; following through chapters but intertwined, parallel divergent, re-referencing and simultaneous brief. An extende discourse on ambidexterity lined up with a collection of paving stones, again pep talk or video, again from before, or no, another one, for instance witnessing the failing light while in fact not being aware of it... nothing happening so to speak but all the while not knowing where to turn first – a reflection on our own capacity to observe...
Reconstructing what we saw into something translucent, which we might have drank from, cemented in a precarious attitude just short of identifiable.


Questionable, yes that’s it... and as such a refreshing take on the scientifically circumnavigated banality of everyday. Chôse certainly something to watch out for. Chôse certainly something to look forward towards. Of aft, as the case may be.
on this occasion Chôse is




donderdag 22 december 2016

Psss... impressssion

Pshit impression

I was impressed by the fact that there was to be a printing party at the haunt of the Buktapaktop in Brussels some weeks ago... that is my cup of tea I thought and proceeded to consider what I might contribute. In the past I had been somewhat of a terror in the printroom, and the somewhat anguished head printer opted I may be considered somewhat of an artist, but a printer? No.
I ad been too far influenced by alternative mindsets to discipline myself enough to produce a decent run of prints that were of comparative quality and competence... I loved the process to be sure, but found it immensely difficult to re-produce, repeat and refrain from adding touches, well, modifications, additions, variations... 
I had been impressed by a print made by Dieter Roth sometime in the seventies I presume, since it was a key reason for my choosing printmaking as a major when entering the hallowed halls of the academic pursuit of artistry... it was a chocolate praline that had been printed... as simple as that. It had not been inked up, it had not been dissected, but just tucked in under the blankets of an unsuspecting etching press and rolled on through (obviously with some modification of the pressure, being slightly more lumpy than a copper plate. The result was spectacular, the foul wrapper had become a chinese bird, sporting both interior and exterior colours, stuck chine-collé style to a lengthy smear of sienna and earth-brown hues, first widening and them tapering to a slight wisp of conté it seemed... a masterpiece of simplicity.

Of course it fit in with his conceptual series concerning chocolate and the consumption of... by humans or fungi as it were, but I had taken this face value and began to churn all sorts of objects through the robust but also delicate Charles brand presses at the school... to the dismay of the studio head and technical assistants. The blankets suffered terribly and had to be prematurely replaced... the pin-up wallspace had been somewhat taken over by my ‘etudes’ in junk composition and the junk itself was beginning to pile up in what otherwise was a very neatly run printshop... I even took to hanging up some composition for the lack of space... one was a large panel festooned with found footage as it were, having recuperated bales of shredded documents from nearby banks, pressed in between plates of plastic with some other junk added, dripping charbonnel that couldn’t really dry in those circumstances... anyway, a mess.

Even with all my efforts I never really got to the simple essence of that one bon-bon that had met with unyielding pressure... and so, these many years later I found this proposal of a “Imprimature sans rime ni raison” by Alan Amate at the Buktapaktop the perfect opportunity to revisit this failed attempt at simple greatness... Alas, it was again to end up in disaster...

I had envisioned to participate in the preparatory session slated for the weekend preceding the official launch... to do a few tests as a rationally inclined person might do. We were running late and while i a supermarket I grabbed some chocolate somethings in a see-through Perspex box... they were wrapped in a golden foil, which was what I wanted... But in the end we never made it to Brussels and so the box of chocs lay around in the car for a week...

By the time the public print-run rolled around I was already busy again with other things but knew I had the Perspex box in the car... so decided to participate as planned... When we got there quite a few people were already very busy and the walls were already quite full of all sorts of printwork... the kind that I could relate to: not one print was the same as the other... everyone was having fun trying out things, collaborating on pieces and just plain being experimentalist sort of like... just about the last thing you wanted in a tight run printroom with a serious run to be done by yesterday...















red mangle (remember mangelware?)



I had brought my little red mangle especially... I thought it too much to expect to be able to use the gleaming etching press with it’s pristine blankets... memories of the admonishment I got in school were to blame... but all the well, because my chocolates were in fact round spheres... I prepared everything on a low table and stool, opened the Perspex box and was called to aide someone to arrange letters and fix them in the proofpress nearby... this obviously took a while, and admittedly I enjoyed doing it, for it had been a while... (ah those days when we produced our own posters...) anyway, by the time I got back someone (more than one surely...) had eaten all but three of the round chocolate elairs... zut alors! Luckily I had a few near the stove to heat up before the impression, otherwise I would have nothing at all.
 sore eyewear








Anyway, the first impression came out shitty... really, it looked like shit, literally, since it was a sort of choc-o-nuts concoction and was smeared Rorschach-like in two directions, reminding, as one proud member-father noted, of his still recent chore of cleaning up small children... thus far from the elegant ‘extended praline’ I was hoping for... same goes for the next and the next, encased in envelopes specially printed on the proof press with a variation of the letters oeuf as further reference to a chocolate egg once molten in a back pocket in Africa (that is another story)...


















So after all these years considering doing what I had just done, it seemed a bit of an anticlimactic dud... with a thud. Even hanging next to other creations on the washing line did not even make it worse, no sense in comparing or contrasting, conceptualizing or compounding an already shitty situation... only fungi perhaps could still turn this rather fecal looking composition into something curiously colourful... so, as too Dieter Roth liked to extend the life of his work by allowing degenerate bacteria to swarm across his work, so too I thought this might be a solution... but by the time I got back someone had already committed the work to the garbage, and so any further development in discoloration would have to occur anonymously somewhere in a waste-disposal plant.


Pshit!


maandag 28 november 2016

EtcIV



While the main museum was festooned with paying VIP revelers, being herded around by vetted art-specialists, the foyer was sort of occupied by a more eager crew of performance oriented people... My kind of people... No big fuss, speeches or rigmarole, but just plain performance and video... The beginning was sort of a mystery since the " Holzweg" *was smaller than thought, envisioned, considered... But if fact it became just as majestic as the great wall, only this one meandered in matchbox size throughout the proceedings.

















(‘woodwork’, Ursula Gaisbauer & Adrien Tirtiaux, * ‘lumber road or way’ would be closer to holzweg, a road leading nowhere in a forest...makes it more poetic...)

Screenings by Provost and Laric, on the far side a banquet... hmm...
Minja Gu then proceeded to engulf us with scented wafts from various pots in which she had poured hard liquor, in fact she was releasing the spirit in the spirits and in the end the cookery was all drank but not drunk... Interesting.

Video with slightly too weak a sound to actually communicate with the vegetables by Laure Prouvost...

When entering I had been attracted immediately to a sumptuous banquet set for us... Felt like a continuation of the Buktabanket, but was admonished by a friendly lady to refrain from my base tendencies to snatch a bite and leave the table be until it was time... Well now the time came and became apparent... The lovely lady was in fact an amalgam of three or more personages (as well as the artist herself, Ariane Loze) that were converse politely during this banquet of reflective identities... She played the roles, dressed the consumes, propped the props, decoration, arranged the lighting, sound and rolled the camera, taking various takes of each setting and being the clap too... (like Duchamp sitting around a table with himself crossed with Goddard, and harking back to “Dinner for One”)


A wondrous mix of activities to watch and be fascinated by, being witness to a creative process which was basically a selfie-movie but much more than that. The video version
projected on the wall was a finished self-contained version shot in controlled circumstances, while this was part of a chaotic interaction between various actions and not so easy to keep on track... But Miss Loze held it together wonderfully and it worked on various levels... Performance in itself, a tad of theatre, construction, installation docu and soap... A momentary wobble created by the appearance of Dara Birnbaum's Wonder Woman on the screen nearby with excessive soundtrack ... But ,Le Banquet, remained a feast for sore eyes...
Hope to see the resulting video at some point, certain that it will be a successful piece of work... Highlight of the evening...






Behind another wall they were painting mineatures in drawing postage stamp size of Belgian Congo collectibles... A strange tableau vivant de nature mort one might say, but perhaps a bit stayed for a performance eve happening, or should have been there from the start instead of presenting it in the middle somewhere... but a mineature reminder of that strange slant in belgian identity, congo... (Tuur & Flip Marinus)




















Another duo though was well placed, two sisters Maika & Inca Garnica taped together with Laptop, beamer and soundbox, projecting written names of spaces while footsteps sounded the spaces rendered and projected to about the general area they might be... We followed suit and even thogh abstract, could join them in their foray about the house... Not bad at all.
Expecting Ria Pacquée to do something perhaps with some recent material (she had just sent some cats from Bangkok - photo-electronically that is...). But she had two video's on offer which I had already seen before, though not on such a screenscale... so always good to encounter on our ramblings...

Ludo Mich on the other hand did expand on earlier work, now donned in bluebeard and assisted by a redbeard ‘ironworks-man’ and former guitar-thrower on electronics - redfaced musicologists, say... though once the yelling started it did remind somewhat of... Well Ludo Mich of course... With bells (glockenspiel) attached...


Had to skedaddle and missed Jankowski, Traianova and Rafman Koord - fluwelen koord... And may just as well hang myself for it, since it was a good evening... There was some promise in the shady silhouettes of Camouflage-krampus-like figures mingling with the crowd - Thumbs up to the young crew that put it all together.
(The young SMAKkers, including Natali Sarisyan, Jeroen Staes, Nadia Bijl, Maud Gyssels, Pepa De Maersschalck)

marathonweek end

 
Saturday
 
I was going to be present on the opening of the cloudknitter story show but didn’t write down the address, thinking it was handelsbeurs wheras in fact it was oude beurs – by the time i figured it I had missed  it so I went along next day early to have a look... and was surprised by the extensive show on offer – more or less encompassing the whole building which had obviously been vacated by the various city administration offices housed there until quite recently... wandering the halls one could enjoy the artwork in an unconventionally easygoing manner, the kind of show I hadn’t seen in a while, ‘expo sauvage’ style but a bit more structured... I preferred not to read up on names and such too much since it was the whole as a whole which seemed more important – a bit like the wall downstairs with postal mail art contributions from around the world, equally sharing the same space without selection on whichever subjective criteria... and maybe that sums up quite well the cloudknitter thing, radio, activity, read and see, sky being the limit or not even... going strong for quite a while now and no reason to stop.





















mailing wall a bit like the one we did for secret archives continued at the HTH
 
Then off to the art-book fair at the academy, which I always enjoy but this time really couldn’t afford any of the goodies on display... pity because I did see some really interesting stuff – but had to be strict with myself – but could breathe some of the atmosphere and listen in on Luc Fierens de-presenting  a L’unità text in the hallway... good for him to keep the battle-cry alive, and hopefully the fair will remain a mainly amateur (as in love of special books) event, while retaining the historical (antique) bookstand too...
 
Pit stop at home and off again
 
To the aptly named second room where Wout Vercammen presented a three-hour show... and wow, again he catches me unawares, unexpecting me again... so to speak. I was by chang re-reading the Pierre Cabanne interviews with Duchamp and the sapect of “even” in the bride stripped bare came to mind – non-sensical? Who nose – but the spacial refash that WV presented had that very Duchampian (duchampion) knack of again turning your attitude a knotch further than you might have imagined... and with nearly nothing than the space itself and a few builders aides such a laser spirit level and blacklight day-glo, a couple of led’s and some crumples aluminum foil... moon landing!
 
Couldn’t stay long cause had reserved for an evening of performance at the Brass in Brussels “crash text” and of course got stuck in heavy traffic (saturdays are as bad as weekday office hours!)
The presentations were good, though somewhat into the theatrical, which is something I like to be wary about – at some stage the performative becomes a theatre piece, especially when performed on a stage, with lighting and microphone – reading, conference and dance... a bit tricky?... but the other pieces were in situ public space, machine room... and as such passable... lighting had a tendency towards the theatrical, and there was quite a bit of mime (obviously proficient in that genre, but a tad too present... the compute dancing screens came close to the performative since the author was sitting there generating the teXt at the time... new-tech versions... I guess so. The only real impromptu textless runaround was by Dialogist-Kantor, a version specially adapted from two (or more) divergent pieces, a constant work in progress and very fitting here too. Bang slam guitar instead of calling names of things and stuff.





















 
Back home to search for a parking space...
 
Sunday
 
Up bright and early for a trip to Wetteren near Ghent. Loods 12 with vieux connaissance Baudouin Oosterlynck presenting his sonore instrumantarium (seen at Peruwelz not so long ago, with some additions) along with Dominique Rappez and Florian Kinques... Whereby Rappez caught my attention with a strange combination of philosophical drawing, painting re-transferred and surface qualities to make the experience one of  reading rather than looking, sort of – not easy to describe.
 
Back towards Antwerp decided to have a look-see at the Chateau d’Ursel in Hingene where a ongoing artistic intervention project was taking place, and we had already missed. Knowingly too early, for we had another gig in the early afternoon, we just chanced it and with excellent result: We came across one of the participants, Gerard Herman, and he offered to give us a small tour in advance of the main offering that afternoon... a very agreeable experience of spooking about the castle and viewing the interventions with a leisurely eye... very becoming, and the small one-figured soccer games table he presented in a small room upstairs a very good intervention indeed, lonely writer’s garret with only a small wall to kick against.
Other works were good too, the nearby mystifying and intriguing presence of Denicolai & Provoost, for instance with calculations stamped – reproduced even on the windows overlooking the park... hmm. Considering the price of a daydream... enjoyed crawling through the barricaded hallway Luc Deleu devised, twisted together beams, making sure no damage is done to the doorframe, cushioned by ‘red jacket’ brochures... referring to the theme and person to which this whole project is dedicated: Emile Verhaeren, who lived just upstream at St. Amands.
Downstairs lots of information on the recent history of this kind of art – one of the curators Vaast C was busy with a journalist and the main hall was filling with guided tourists and conference-goers... time to head out again.
 
(did our familiar duty with coffee and chocolate cake, quite agreeable)
 
Heading for the last venue north of Antwerp, another castle, or rather manor house: Hof Ter Bist, where artists could intervene in & out – a project curated by Nadia Bijl, which was a refreshing look at some basic premises... though concentrated mainly about the manor house it was a wide ranging jaunt through today’s practice while not encumbering too much on the surroundings... works integrated in the existing picture worked well, while inside effectiveness ranged from using mainly the surroundings as well as just plain presentation... including one sound-set...
An agreeable round-about and perhaps the best way to take in all the various offerings... for it is sheer impossible to see all – as opposed to not so long ago when one was glad to find something going on...

maandag 7 november 2016

walkout

Left Nr. 98
A bit early, a bit before eleven, and headed east. Got into my car and joined the thick stream of traffic on the ring road, turning towards Brussels on the main highway south. Things went smoothly... Until the bottleneck towards Waterloo, and I decided to bet off at the next exit, not knowing where it would take me. I sort of got lost in suburbia... Noticed that I crossed the highway I was on twice... Still clogged up and anyway no way to rejoin it... Ended up on a boulevard heading towards the former palace of the colonies and decided to pull up and take a walk in the forest... It has been a long time that I've taken the time to take a walk just for the sake of it. In fact it had been some time that I had taken the time, just like that... It wasn't planned, just came about when the message from Unnoticed Art came up on the screen... Ping!  A suggestion to just walk away... Yes why not says I... So, now walking in the Zoniënwoud I came across a cross. 









Two sticks tied together with a bit of string... Reminding us that we are escapees, having cheated death again this day, this night, this moment in which we are obviously still alive. Alive like the mushrooms abounding around, they seemed to spring from everywhere all of a sudden... Only having noticed because I stopped at the cross... A cross in the forest... Reminded me of a cross I lugged all the way to Finland with the intention to plant it somewhere deep in the forest... But in the end brought it back having not even unpacked it... Though it did see quite a bit of action in it's wrapped state anyhow... But this cross seemed improvised... Kids maybe, emulating the wayside crosses along trunk roads where people had lost their lives, inadvertently, on their way to somewhere... lives cut short through folly or misdemeanour... Or just pure bad luck. Here it seemed more of a mystery, a playful mystery... Knowing that there probably was nothing buried at the spot (or perhaps a hamster?) and surmising it had something to do with the construction further along... A forest abode, a skeleton of branches awaiting a cover of leaves, or tarpaulin to make a kind of yurt or flattened teepee... Down in the gully but not entirely out of sight. 




Mushrooms everywhere, and big ones too... Wondering if I should chance it, but deciding not to pick any... Thinking way back when I was young going mushroom picking in a similar autumnal forest armed with a kitchen knife and wicker basket... Wonderful times now receded far away somewhere and only emerging now for this brief moment... What is it, nostalgia? Looking up in wonderment at the huge trees towering above me... Also something that is disappearing, large, old majestic trees... So few and far between nowadays... Hardly anything gets old anymore... Even buildings have become a sort of throwaway commodity surrounded by interchangeable landscapes of roll-on-lawn and potted shrubbery. 





















A clump of filigree fungal spores caught my eye... What a strange creature it seemed to be, hovering wispiness there on the forest floor, catching the light briefly... As if alive... And to be sure it was alive, but not in the sense of a small fluffy creature it pretended.. But a colony of interrelating strands like a mesh of communicating spirits all agreed to synthesise this bounty before it's too late.. I think it was horse manure. 
( I hear you thinking 'what a load of horseshit'!)



















Admiring the gnarled roots of large trees along the hollow way, considering that strange mix of nostalgic memory and frustration at there being so little regard for nature nowadays even though everyone is talking about it... It seems the more attention is focused on our environment the less efficiently it is protected...




Even here in this public forest large swathes are being cut... For regeneration they say, while making an easy buck on the age old trees being carted off to the sawmill... We really need to rethink fast... Faster than the climate conferences we get served up in the media... Anyway, trying to loosen my thoughts and try even to think of nothing I stumble upon a lake and bench and idyllic scenery with ducks and all that... 
I decide to have a coffee at a place called the spanish house... I guess an old mill or such, here in the middle of nowhere... Left over from bygone times and now part of recreational infrastructure... The spell is broken, I head back to where I left the car and drive to my old haunt at Beersel, where after more than three years the small museum I used to administer stands empty... Left to rot.. A crying shame... Hadn't been there in a while and the autumnal sphere of the abandoned site just made everything more ...



I stop for an apple that had just fallen from it's tree... A wonderfully tasty looking thing that just about flew ito my hands... Only slightly bruised... I take it with me for later on...
My former neighbour, whom I paid a short visit was battling it out with a major attack of chinese ladybugs... It seemed they were confused by the global warming weather to start their spring reconnoitring... Alas, it was late october and with the nights cooling sharply, in for a nasty surprise... 









Highway again, this time towards the south-west... Tournai, Lille I thought,  but exiting early to drive along the old road I used to take with a dear friend who is already dead for what is it... Eighteen years! How time flys and how recent it can seem... Again nostalgia in the low slung sun turning the scenery into a golden haze... At the town of Ath I stopped and entered the train station... Thinking I might just get on a train instead of driving... I have to drive enough as it is and like rather to be driven... And have always been fond of trains... But service has become so meagre that there was no destination in foreseeable time that interested me... So I got back into the car and headed due south... Skirting the castle at Beloeil and turning towards Peruwelz at Basecles, crossing the canal and heading up the hill to the basilique de Bon Secours on the french border...
 
Condé on the banks of the river Schldt in the parc naturelle des plaines de escaut et scarpe, Valenciennes and the tree lined boulevards that already reminded of Paris... well, we've come this far, why not the whole hog? A bit of highway before the peage starts, exit towards St. Quetin, over to le Cateau au Cambresis, where Matisse comes from... Good museum... Down to Laon with its wonderful cathedral perched on top of the world... Further down the Nationale Deux, Soissons, getting dark and one can already see the lights of planes converging on Charles De Gaule... Especially spectacular from the forest of Retz... Getting late... joining the main stream of the autoroute du nord we sail into the porte de clignotante as if nothing were more natural...  Naw, just kidding... Turned back and spent the night at Peruwelz before heading home next morning.