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International Photobiennial Ostend 4 September to 24 October 2021 (part 1)


Ostend is offering a photo festival, a new item in the ever lengthening festival calendar of the seaside resort. The programme offers to look at the work of 33 photographers (30 in the official programme, 3 in two initiatives off) with very diverse work.

In the first of two contributions, we take you on a stroll along the locations for which you have to contribute, and we point out the artists that are to be seen. For a visit it can be handy, to download a map with the exhibition locations of the festival, you just have to leave an E-mail address. The website with the map is not linked to the Biennial’s website.

Anyway: if you want to visit it all, you will need some time and will certainly reach your 10,000 steps. Two days is probably more advisable. For those who want to do it a bit faster: blue bikes can be rented at the station (only with a subscription) or throughout the city you can rent a scooter from Bird (you might want to download the app in advance – be careful, you have to be over 18 before you can use one).

We start our walk at Fort Napoleon, a massive defensive structure erected by the French emperor to repel British incursions. Here already an encounter, the sensual, erotic and fashionable gaze of Marc Lagrange (1957-2015) versus the gaze of 5 female photographers: Katrien De Blauwer (1969), Carmen De Vos (1967), Isabel Devos (1975), Tine Guns (1983) & Chrystel Mukeba (1983). Entrance to Fort Napoleon is paying, the festival ticket gives you access to the various indoor locations.

Second indoor location is Mu.ZEE, the famous museum for modern art and a landmark of modernist architecture. Julie Scheurweghs (1988) is a young promising photographer who is bringing her first museum exhibition here. Her work always has a very personal slant, which she confirms here with her strong intimate series Birth of a Mother. If you still have some time left, be sure to check out Ensor, Spilliaert, Permeke, Roger Raveel and Raoul De Keyser or the special exhibition on the film-maker Raoul Servais.

The third paying location is the old church tower de Peperbusse (Pepermill) in the city centre. Here you will find innovative work by Lennert Deprettere (1973) and mysterious images by Jef Paepen (1955).

Ostend is a harbor, so an exhibition on a ship is obligatory. Two photographers were asked to portray Ostend, Jef Boes (1983) and Kaat Pype (1980). Beware: the last two locations, the Peperbusse and the festival boat, are difficult or impossible to access for people with mobility problems.

Marc Lagrange’s son Vincent (1988) became a photographer. He focuses on the animal kingdom – his animal portraits are certainly worthwhile! They can be seen at the Gallery Felix

The last paying location is the Anglican Church. It has recently been renovated for multifunctional use and now also serves as an exhibition hall. The Biennial shows young talent here with Elise Corten (1994), Jolien De Buyser (1997), Joris Deleersnyder (1993), Anaïs Lesy (1995) and Charlotte Mariën (1992). Definitely go and see!

In the second article, we will talk about the open-air and indoor locations that you can visit for free. We also take a first look at the side events.

John Devos (ad)



The website of the Biennial

The city map with the locations is not on the festival website but on:

Papillon Lansink & van Houtryve

Bart Ramakers Hotel du Parc

photography event De Donkere kamer

Corman bookshop

De Witte Zee bookshop

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