Brussels venues dedicated to photography - Are you ready for a close-up?

27 January 2022
The piece "The world within " by Frédéric Stucin

In recent years, Brussels has been enjoying a renewed dynamism within artistic photography. Unlike cities such as Antwerp and Charleroi, our capital doesn't have a photography museum, but it more than makes up for this with several institutions dedicated to the art of "writing with light".

L'Enfant Sauvage: a new kid in town, with big aspirations

L'Enfant Sauvage, an exhibition and creation space dedicated to photography, is a 100% self-financed project, driven essentially by passion. Photographer Pauline Caplet opened the gallery in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis in July 2020. Having experienced how difficult it was for talented young artists and students to find a place to exhibit, she decided to open one herself. She is ideally placed to understand their needs. Showing local, Belgian and international photographers using various techniques, the programme does have a notable preference for analogue prints. Pauline works intuitively in a true "tribe of photography" spirit, creating an intimate exchange with a large and diversified public. Artist talks, workshops, screenings and book releases are also programmed throughout the year. The cherry on the cake is a little bookshop and many more projects in the pipeline!

Contretype - centre for contemporary photography in Brussels

Contretype was founded in 1978 by Jean-Louis Godefroid (1952-2013), almost a decade before Antwerp and Charleroi opened their photography museums. At that time, artistic photography was not yet valued as an art form. Reportage photography prevailed. After exhibiting in his flat for a while (Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe...), the centre moved into the renovated Hannon House until the end of 2014, and then into the Cité Fontainas (another prestigious building in Saint Gilles). Thanks to numerous collaborations with Belgian and international partners, many of the museum's activities are continuing outside of its walls. Contretype defines itself as an arts centre for the production, exhibition and distribution of auteur photography. Residencies for Belgian and international photographers provide the work for the permanent collection, which now includes work by some 40 artists. As a result, a finely woven portrait, of Brussels as a great place to live and create, is gradually taking shape.

Hangar - Photo Art Center / Gallery

After it turned out that 80% of the exhibitions in Hangar revolved around photography, the arts centre decided to devote itself exclusively to this branch of art. With about 8 to 10 exhibitions a year, visitors are introduced to a wide selection of contemporary photographic work, without any limitations on genre, territory or working methods being placed on the medium. Through partnerships with art and photography schools, special attention and support is given to young talent. Hangar's flagship event is the PhotoBrussels Festival, the annual event dedicated to photography in our capital. Created by Delphine Dumont (who now runs Hangar), the festival is a prime example of the new dynamics that have developed around photography in Brussels in recent years. Located in a former car factory, the institution occupies a surface area of more than 1,000m². Plenty of room for exhibitions, a (photography) bookshop, lectures, workshops and various photography-related events.

Contraste

For 25 years, Contraste has been organising photography courses for different target groups. Workshops and holiday courses for all levels and ages, but also internships at home and abroad, customised training and lectures. You will learn all the skills necessary to produce quality photographs. But more importantly, the teachers (who were all educated at art schools) share their experience and passion for the medium.

The exhibition section has been expanded. The exhibition space was recently adapted so that artists can now be invited on a regular basis. The aim is to present two to three exhibitions a year, supplemented by end-of-year exhibitions. Be sure to check out Close-up: the online exhibition with work by final year students. They were given carte blanche to decorate the virtual walls as they saw fit.

Fondation A Stichting

Since Fondation A Stichting opened its doors in October 2012 in the former Bata factory in the south of Brussels, the institution has amazed us time and again with striking photography exhibitions. Koji Onaka, Nicholas Nixon, Henry Wessel, Guido Guidi, Brussels-based Vincen Beeckman... are but a few of the names that have been showcased. The Foundation is located in an area of the city where industrial activity has predominated for many years. Like the many other cultural actors in the neighbourhood (BRASS, P.A.R.T.S., WIELS, and Galila's P.O.C), the photography platform actively participates in neighbourhood life. Its mission: to stimulate and support the creation, knowledge and preservation of the photographic image. After its forced closure in 2020 (due to coronavirus safety measures), the institution took the opportunity to review its operations. To the delight of photography enthusiasts, the Fondation A Stichting relaunched in March 2021 with a brand new exhibition calendar!

Botanique

On Brussels' inner ring road, in the middle of a busy neighbourhood, lies Le Botanique, the former botanical gardens of Brussels. In the former greenhouses of this terraced park (an architectural wonder), you'll find Le Botanique, the French Community's cultural centre that bridges the gap between the past and the present. It is not just one of the most famous concert halls in Belgium. Every year, it hosts about a dozen exhibitions and activities around the visual arts, with a strong emphasis on photography. Its two exhibition halls, the museum and the gallery, offer the opportunity to discover contemporary, established and emerging artists from Belgium and abroad in large retrospectives and themed and solo exhibitions.