Brussels. In search of territories of new-urban creation. — by Chris Keulemans

This text is a report of a month in Brussels. No more, no less. The report of a month spent walking, talking and observing. At the invitation of Flanders Arts Institute and in particular of Sofie Joye, in charge of Diversity, Urbanity and Emerging Artists.

I want to get off at Central Station but the metro passes the station as though it didn’t exist. Onto the next stop, then. It is 9 p.m. The compartment is heavy with the heat of a long summer’s day. In a blur we get off at De Brouckère. Get back, get back! Heavily armed soldiers shout at us from the deserted platform to get back onto the metro. People reach for their phones. All of a sudden, 30 strangers form an alert collective. Western city dwellers in the state of terror. A photo on Twitter: a small plume of fire between the pillars of the Central Station. Someone wanted to commit an attack. He was shot down at once. Around me people are shaking their heads. They comfort each other. Are you alright, madam? Unbelievable, no? Bunch of bastards. Hold on – we don’t know yet who did it.

People who were avoiding each other’s gaze a minute ago are now looking each other in the eye. As though to say: I mean well, you can trust me, are you alright, do you not want to sit down for a minute? City dwellers together. Everyone shows their good intentions. The Arab-looking youths in the first place. To prevent any misunderstanding. When I get off someone reaches out his hand. One of the boys wishes me a safe journey. I’m in Schaarbeek.

Walking down Paleizenstraat in the sunset, I ask myself: is it too frivolous to see these few minutes of urban panic as if it were a moment of theatre with only actors and no director?

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