Harold Polis (c) Frederik Hulstaert
March-November 2023

The atmosphere at the press presentation

On Thursday 15 September, we presented the Baroque Influencers programme to the press and to invited guests at AMUZ’s atmospheric Church of St Augustine. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Stijn Latré, director of UCSIA, and Filip Lardon, vice-rector of the University of Antwerp, spoke warm words of welcome. UCSIA and the University of Antwerp co-founded the Jesuit Heritage Foundation in 2020 and are the initiators of Baroque Influencers.

Stijn Latré, directeur UCSIA (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Filip Lardon, vicerector Universiteit Antwerpen (c) Frederik Hulstaert

‘With plague, wars and high inflation, the seventeenth century also went through its crises. The Jesuits interceded at the time for the poor to lower the price of grain. But they were also provocateurs. They used the baroque to persuade their contemporaries. Baroque Influencers examines to what extent we are still children of the baroque today.’ – Stijn Latré, UCSIA

Bart De Wever also took the floor. As both the mayor of Antwerp and a historian, he gave attendees a short history lesson on seventeenth-century Antwerp.
Harold Polis, the curator of the festival, emphasized the multifaceted nature of the festival: besides three different exhibitions spread throughout the city centre, the programme also pays ample attention to debate, music and experience. Anke Verschueren, the moderator, then quizzed the curators of the three exhibitions about their plans.

Bart De Wever (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Harold Polis (c) Frederik Hulstaert

Hildegard Van de Velde (Museum Snijders&Rockoxhuis) and Pierre Delsaerdt (Ruusbroec Society) announced the extraordinary works that will be on display in the exhibition Baroque Influencers: The Jesuits, Rubens and the Art of Persuasion.

This exhibition is spread across three venues: the St Charles Borromeo Church, Museum Snijders&Rockoxhuis, and the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. Modern techniques make it possible to evoke the atmosphere of the seventeenth century in the Nottebohm Hall by using augmented reality to create a reconstruction of the Sodality, of which Peter Paul Rubens, among others, was a member.

Pierre Delsaerdt and Hildegard Van de Velde (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Anke Verschueren (c) Frederik Hulstaert

Baroque Influencers also builds a bridge to the present, with a stopover in the interwar period. Dennis Van Mol and Ewald Peters of Walden Art Stories are creating an exhibition on the art society De Pelgrim (1924–30). Founded by writer Felix Timmermans, architect Flor Van Reeth and writer Ernest Van der Hallen, De Pelgrim tried to reconcile modernity and faith. The exhibition will take place in the Print Room of the KMSKA.

Ewald Peters (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Dennis Van Mol & Ewald Peters (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Dennis Van Mol (c) Frederik Hulstaert

We also announced that Sergio Servellón would curate the exhibition at the Port House. His plan bears the provisional working title Antwerp (Re-)Active: Search-Stadium. As with the seventeenth-century Sodality, the focus at the Port House will be on knowledge-sharing and collaboration. Visitors will be actively invited to participate in the dialogue between tradition and innovation.

Sergio Servellón (c) Frederik Hulstaert

After the talks with the curators, Anke Verschueren invited Annick De Ridder, Antwerp alderman for the port, to explain why the role of the port was so important in the seventeenth century and why the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is participating as the main sponsor.

Nabilla Ait Daoud, Antwerp alderman for culture, praised the cooperation between the more than fifteen Antwerp cultural partners. Erica Caluwaerts, Antwerp alderman for marketing and communication, struck the final chord, emphasizing that the ambitious programme of Baroque Influencers was in line with the city of Antwerp’s brand strategy and the city’s image at an (inter)national level.

Annick De Ridder (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Nabilla Ait Daoud (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Erica Caluwaerts (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Pierre Delsaerdt (c) Frederik Hulstaert
Harold Polis (c) Frederik Hulstaert