Bruges Triennial brings contemporary art and architecture to the unique UNESCO world heritage surroundings of the City of Bruges. Every three years, an artistic team invites (inter)national artists and architects to develop a new, site-specific installation for the city. For five months they occupy the historical city centre with their contemporary creations. They offer an artistic response to a theme that is linked to the future challenges of Bruges and cities worldwide.
About swimming in the canals, or how an experiment initiates change
As well as being an international architecture and arts event, Bruges Triennial also aims to be an experimental platform. The temporary nature of the installations means that boundaries can be shifted, concepts thought out and new ideas launched for the public space in the city. And this has proven to be a success : the 2015 installation Canal Swimmer’s Club from Atelier Bow-Wow, for example, for the first time transformed the canals into an open-air swimming pool, accessible to all. This was a first for the City of Bruges, where until then it had been forbidden to swim in the canals. It proved so successful that a floating platform for the swimmers was designed in 2018, this time by the Spanish architectural firm selgascano. Since then, the city has been taking the initiative itself each year. Or how a temporary installation from Bruges Triennial can provide the impetus for lasting change.
We continue to build – from 1968 to the present day
Since 2015, Bruges Triennial has been building on the series of triennials around visual arts that were organised in 1968, 1971 and 1974. Whilst the focus lay on contemporary Belgian art and a more museum-centric context in these early editions, when the concept was revived in 2015 the decision was made to add architecture to the programme as a second pillar. Moreover, the event is no longer staged indoors, but in the public space. This has proven to be a successful formula.
The first edition, at the time known as Triennial for Plastic Art in Belgium, took place in the illustrious year 1968 in the Bruges City Halls and featured 86 artists including Marcel Broodthaers, Jef Geys, Panamarenko and Roger Raveel. Two editions followed in 1971 and 1974, but these were the last.
In 2015 – 41 years later – City of Bruges picks up where it left off and stages the surprising Bruges as Megapolis. With this theme, the curators depict the imaginary transformation of Bruges into a global city, in which its five million annual visitors didn’t leave but became residents instead.
In 2018, with the theme Liquid City | Vloeibare Stad, the focus was on the uncertain aspects of contemporary society. How flexible, fluid and resilient can a historical city like Bruges be in a time in which nothing seems certain anymore? Installations in and around the water enrapture people in unexpected places.
In 2021, with TraumA, the curators shifted the focus from the public space to the hidden dimensions of Bruges and its residents. A polyphonous tale in which ambiguity came into the picture, and the demarcation between public and private space was negotiated afresh.
Would you like to know more about the previous editions? Take a look here.
Looking forward to Bruges Triennial 2024
In the meantime, the team is working behind the scenes to once again offer you an inspiring route in Bruges city centre in 2024. Free of charge and 24/7 in the public space. We’d be delighted to keep you posted about our progress.
Bruges Triennial is an organisation of Brugge Plus vzw, by commission of City of Bruges.
- contemporary visual art and architecture
- in the streets of the UNESCO world heritage city of Bruges
- national and international artists and architects
- commissioned temporary installations