After 15 years, it was high time to review the format. In the end it was decided to focus on emphasising the strong and unique qualities of Beaufort with a limited number of artists. This means the 6th edition will centre around the sea as a backdrop, the accessibility of the project, its locations along the Belgian coastline and the growing park of quality sculptures that is meant to create a long-term legacy in the participating seaside resorts. Beaufort 2018 is organised by the Province of West Flanders and Westtoer (Tourism Office of West Flanders & The Belgian Coast).
Curator Heidi explains: “The works coming to the Belgian Coast for Beaufort 2018 will delve into the region’s bohemian character. It’s a very particular atmosphere that’s quite evident in the surrealism of James Ensor, for example, and one that attracted people like Marvin Gaye and Austrian author Stefan Zweig to the seaside.Coastal places are just very open and quite partial to a bit of anarchy, things we can feel even today.”
“But the people living at the coast often look at things from a different perspective: the way they see the world is often affected by the fact that they’re always trying to stay in contact with the world beyond the horizon. And things are no different at the Belgian seaside. Zeebrugge, for example, was already trading with the Baltics and Southern Europe in the Middle Ages! And Ostend was connected to India and China in the 18th century! So it’s not surprising the world’s Beau Monde and their dog flocked to the coast at the start of the 20ieth century. Literally coming from anywhere between New York and Persia. Yet, opposing this international frame of mind is the region’s intrinsically local character, determined by the very valiant fishermen who braved the mighty waves of the North Sea every day. This year’s Beaufort project takes on the very contradictions that have proven such a great source for adventurers, surrealists and anarchists, while questioning the importance of sculptures in public spaces anno 2018.”
The selection on display will consist of a mix of works by Belgian and international artists: Kader Attia (FR), Nina Beier (DK) – Nieuwpoort, Guillaume Bijl (BE), Simon Dybbroe Møller (DK) – Middelkerke-Westende, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys (BE) – De Panne, Edith Dekyndt (BE), Stief DeSmet (BE) – Oostende, Jason Dodge (VS), Anne Duk Hee Jordan (DE/KR), Jean-François Fourtou (FR) – Knokke-Heist, Ryan Gander (GB) – Koksijde, Iman Issa (EG), Basim Magdy (EG), Katja Novitskova (EST) – Bredene, Rotor (BE) – Zeebrugge, Frederik Van Simaey (BE), Leon Vranken (BE), Xu Zhen (CN) – De Haan-Wenduine.
The Belgian Coast has turned itself into a top year-round tourist destination. Beaufort is a major initiative that supports and enhances the region’s touristic image. So with the triennial, the organizers want to put the Belgian Coast on the foreground as a cultural tourist destination for a bit longer than just a few months. After all Beaufort juxtaposes art and the sea and that makes it quite unique.