Brussels’ Centre for Fine Arts, Bozar, has reopened its famed rooftop terrace for the 2023-2024 season, called On Top of That, with an added programme of urban initiatives transforming the space into “an animated public square”.
While in July, the terrace offered guests shade, mist showers and lounge chairs for relaxing afternoons and evenings that could feel like holiday in the city, after the summer break, the rooftop comes back with a sociocultural approach. “From 23 August to 17 September, all kinds of urban initiatives will take their place on the roof with a committed programme on the theme of urbanisation and the use of public space”, Bozar said in a statement.
Bozar will be home to the sociocultural riches of Brussels. Or rather: our roof will be. The rooftop will be transformed into an animated public square.Bozar
The activities range from drawing attention to surplus-based cuisine to classical music concerts, dub, slam and hip hop, to feminist and queer radio, a literary tribute to Iranian student Mahsa Amini, as well as outdoor film screenings and a debate on public space and share culture.
On the first week, from 23 to 27 August, Bozar, in partnership with Cultureghem, opened a mobile kitchen on their rooftop cooking only with leftovers, bringing food waste into the spotlight. This was accompanied by a photo exhibition by FDSS comprising 10 photographs that symbolically illustrate the reality of people dependent on food aid. Music talks with the artists of Festival Midis-Minimes took place every day, while, for the finale of the first week, Detours Festival held an all-style live jazz music concert, dance performance and dance battle.
The mobile kitchen returns for the second week, from 30 August to 3 September, letting guests sample their ambitions in a number of debates and games. Three Belgian organisations will be given free rein for music, Volta, 54sound and Fifty Lab, which teams up a Belgian and an international emerging artist each month, offering them a venue in Brussels to showcase their repertoire.
Graffiti artwork, creative writing and slam poetry sessions will be taking over the terrace on the third week, from 6 to 10 of September. Brussels-based artist collective Farmprod will be offered the Royal Palace’s palisade on Rue Royale as a canvas for their graffiti artwork, while literature and poetry will be served by The Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile) (AALFIE), deBuren and Lezarts Urbains. AALFIE is teaming up with the Creative Writing Academy for Refugees & Asylum Seekers to present the programme ‘Blurring the Borders’: an hour of cross-genre prose, poetry about migration, sensuality and Brussels languages. For the music, Under my Garage, Nuits Sonores Brussels and Radio Vacarme, a non-profit organisation promoting female and queer artists in and around Belgium, will be taking over Bozar’s roof in the evenings.
The last week the rooftop is open this year, from 13 to 17 September, starts off with an invitation for guests to lose themselves in several Spanish cities through film, followed by a debate on “How public is public space in Brussels”. Then, commemorating a year since Mahsa Amini’s death, Bozar is partnering with Maelström to organise a programme featuring Iranian women poets, an anthology. The rooftop season will be closed off by a 6-hour marathon from the Belgian National Orchestra, from 12pm to 6pm on 17 September.
Throughout the four weeks, access to the terrace is free from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 12pm to 11pm. The artistic programme will be combined with slots of no activities, during which the rooftop remains freely accessible. In the event of rain, the performances and exhibitions are moved inside, so guests can still enjoy the programme.