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DOING BLACK ART IN BRUSSELS: a panel discussion with Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Lisette Ma Neza and Wetsi Mpoma

Location: online & livestreaming @ Pilar (VUB Campus)
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a panel discussion with Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Lisette Ma Neza and Wetsi Mpoma

WED 7 July 2021 | 15.00<16.30 | online & livestreaming @ Pilar (VUB Campus)

This event is part of “Black Europe in Brussels,” a series of live and online conference events that bring to the forefront Afroeuropeans in Brussels, capital of Belgium and Europe. How does art in Brussels engage with the changing face of the city? How does the city inspire you as artists in your work? Are the interactions between art and Brussels typical of any large metropole? What challenges are specific to doing art in Brussels, as a multilingual capital of Europe and a former colonial centre?

Taking their own sources of inspiration and trajectories as points of departure, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Lisette Ma Neza and Wetsi Mpoma offer their insights on how Brussels inspires art and how, in turn, black artists and arts practitioners, contribute to Brussels being one of the most vibrant cities of the world. Research journalist and Scherpsteller of deBuren and Pilar Warda El-Kaddouri will moderate the conversation.

*The event also marks the launch of the Black Arts in Brussels website. Devoted to the visual arts, this website is one of the 2021 Black Europe in Brussels initiatives sponsored by the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies.

Convenors:  Elisabeth Bekers and Janine Hauthal (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Centre for Literary and Intermedial Crossings)

Time: Wednesday 7 July, 3-4.30pm

Format: online panel debate followed by online Q&A; livestreaming by Pilar on the VUB Humanities campus (with registration).

Livestreaming on FB: free:

Livestreaming @ VUB campus (Pilar): admission 3 euro (complimentary drink included:

Partners: Afropeans2021, BCUS, CLIC, deBuren, Pilar, RHEA

Shortened Bios

Ubah Cristina Ali Farah is a Somali Italian poet, novelist, playwright, librettist and oral performer. She has just published a third novel Le stazioni della luna (The Stations of the Moon, 2021) and is collaborating on a book with Belgian illustrator Goele Dewanckel and on the Rwandan opera La fille de l’homme qui prévoyait pour le future with Dorcy Rugamba. She is a UNDP consultant for a project on Oral Historiography for Peace Building in Somalia.

Lisette Ma Neza was in 2017 the first person of colour, the first woman and the first Dutch-speaking person to win the Belgian Poetry Slam championship. In 2018 she became Vice World Champion in Rio de Janeiro and in 2021 she was awarded the VUB Luc Bucquoye Prize for Literature. In her work this young spoken word artist of Rwandese origin addresses issues of race and gender and blurs the line between poetry and essay; she also writes songs and films.

Anne Wetsi Mpoma, born in Belgium to Congolese parents, is an art historian, curator and author. As founding director of Wetsi Art Gallery, she focuses on artists who are marginalized because of their ‘race’, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and/or ‘disability’. She is currently lending her expertise to the parliamentary commission examining Belgium's colonial past and its current consequences.

Doing black art in BxlPhoto: Artwork by Bers Grandsinge; photo by Wetsi Mpoma