Etablissement d’en face is an art space in central Brussels. It aims to present artistic practices to an international audience by offering conditions of professional production to a wide spectrum of contemporary artists. Founded in 1991 by the artists Alec De Busschère, Delphine Bedel, Christophe Draeger and Patrick Everaert, it was originally located in the Rue d’Artois and moved to the Rue Antoine Dansaert in 2002. Over the years it has been programmed by various individuals. Currently, Olivier Foulon, Steinar Haga Kristensen, Jean-Paul Jacquet, Zin Taylor, Margaux Schwarz, Robert Snowden, Harald Thys, Michael Van den Abeele, Margot Vanheusden, Peter Wächtler and Etienne Wynants operate Etablissement d’en face.
The Founding Years
The name Etablissement d’en face derives from its first location in the Rue d’Artois Nr.52. Hidden behind a nondescript façade, the center made use of the industrial lettering from the building across (saying Etablissement) as a distinctive reference. Hence the name Etablissement d’en face (Across from the Establissement).
Within the context of Brussels’ underdeveloped visual arts culture, the non-institutional and non-commercial exhibition space of Etablissement d’en face was welcomed like an oasis in a desert. As such, it met the demands and necessities of artists and the general public of Brussels, who acknowledged the new initiative from the start by a wide attendance and enduring support. In the early years the focus of the exhibition program was mainly on young artists, often having their first individual exhibition at the Etablissement. The programing was mainly based on a system by which the exhibiting artists suggested the next in line. After six years Christoph Draeger left to Switzerland and Delphine Bedel founded the publishing house Monospace Press in Amsterdam.
The Following Years
In 1998 the staff of Etablissement d’en face renewed itself when curator Kurt Van Belleghem became its artistic director. He afterwards proposed the Etablissement as a platform for young curators such as Philippe Van Cauteren and Eva Gonzalez-Sancho and as a place for lectures by artists, architects and curators. In 1999, Etablissement d’en face established, together with Els Roelandt, the monographic art magazine A Prior. Other highlights of this period were a large public intervention by Marin Kasimir and exhibitions by Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Manon de Boer and David Claerbout. Kurt Van Belleghem left Etablissement d’en face in 2000 and handed over the directorship to Eva Gonzalez-Sancho. As the new artistic director Gonzalez-Sancho organized exhibitions with Michael Van de Abeele, Harald Thys, Imogen Stidworthy, Dora Garcia and together with Sven Augustijnen published his print supplement intervention of the financial newspaper Tijd Cultuur. She also organized the one-year exhibition/documentary-centre Legal Space Public Space, during which Etablissement d’en face changed location and moved to the Rue Antoine Dansaert 161.
2003 to The Present
In 2003 Eva Gonzalez-Sancho left for the FRAC Bourgogne in Dijon while Etablissement d’en face was taken over by a group of sympathizers who had been following the development of the space or had exhibited there earlier. Thus Sven Augustijnen, Michael Van den Abeele, Harald Thys, Margot Vanheusden, Jan Verheyden and Etienne Wynants initiated the current form of the collective, in which every member proposes exhibitions and co-operations. In 2005 Belgian artist Sophie Nys joined the collective for four years as did Danai Anesiadou from 2012 till 2014. Since 2008 external curators such as Dieter Roelstraete, Nicolaus Schafhausen, Kathrin Jentjens, Anthony Huberman and Jennifer Teets have contributed to the programming. From 2006 onwards Etablissement d’en face supported lecture series in the cafes of Greenwich and Daringman, a format initiated by NICC Brussels under the name Behind Green Curtains and which was run by Koenraad Dedobbeeler, Ben Meewis, Willem Oorenbeek and Dimitri Vangrunderbeek.
In 2012, Etablissement d’en face relocated to the rue Ravenstein 32 in central Brussels, in the shadow of Belgian political, financial and cultural power institutions and opposite the headquarters of a bank and art center Bozar. Here, in the symbolic heart of a nation, the current collective as well as many sympathizing collaborators continue to welcome and accommodate artistic proposals from artists and other poetic individuals. We continue to celebrate every New Year together with our tradition of the Pot of Etablissement: an award for “Best Things Seen in the World”, which we honor with a Pot of Etablissement. All of these public activities taking place on this spot on planet Earth are fueled by an engagement and commitment by individuals, informed by the interplanetary interferences of Jupiter, Mars, Mercurius, Neptunus, Pluto, Saturnus, Uranus and Venus.
THIS WEBSITE IS DEVELOPED BY PATRICE GAILLARD IN COLLABORATION WITH HARALD THYS FOR ETABLISSEMENT D’EN FACE.