Netwerk Aalst is an international centre for contemporary art and an independent cinema located in Aalst, Belgium.
Netwerk Aalst commissions work by national and international artists within a programme of exhibitions, performances, workshops and talks.
Netwerk Aalst’s Cinema screens the best of arthouse films as well as must-see cinema classics.
The here-and-now of Aalst shapes the engagements Netwerk Aalst develops with artists and audiences.
We wrote a longread about our way of doing things, which you can dowload here.
As a commissioning body based in the former industrial heartland of Flanders, between Brussels and Ghent, Netwerk Aalst has two main ambitions:
- to activate the multiple entanglements it entertains with its own locality; to imagine the potential for (alternative) complicities between audiences, artists and cultural institutions that this locality may allow for, and to continually re-invent its own shape and remit in response to these demands;
- to respond to the changing status, forms and formats of artistic production today; to understand its needs, actors and conditions, and develop new forms of genuinely responsive, reciprocal and integral institutional support for artistic creation.
Instead of working in and for a pre-conceived sense of the “local” situation as a given, Netwerk Aalst sets out to actively think through its own condition in Aalst on two inter-connected levels: as a hyper-specific cluster of needs and desires, and simultaneously as a node entangled in much broader constellations of our time.
Developing an episodic programme rhythm organised around artist commissions and the speculative motifs they put forward, Netwerk Aalst wants to work out how art- and institution-making can animate new shared engagements within a complex public sphere.
Our history & building
In 1981, former members of the Centrum voor Samenlevings-Vernieuwing (CSV) established the independent socio-cultural organization called Centre Netwerk (Netwerk). The Centre was located in the heart of the city and organized various cultural events like jazz and punk concerts, film screenings, lectures and workshops, professional and amateur theater spectacles, dance performances and it also occasionally housed various art exhibitions. In the period 1987-2003, the Netwerk Gallery organized about 85 exhibitions, mainly solo exhibitions, and continued to build up its reputation as one of the important art galleries in the region of Flanders and Belgium.
In 2001, Centre Netwerk and its Gallery applied for funding in two disciplines of the arts from Flamish Government. In 200, both organizations were moved to an abandoned industrial building at the Houtkaai, which used to be a passementerie factory (Passementerie Van Den Brulle). The Belgian architect Eugeen Liebaut transformed the existing, industrial structures into modern exhibition spaces and a professional theater hall.
In 2005, Netwerk Gallery became Netwerk / Center for Contemporary Art and was subsidized by the Flemish Government as a monodisciplinary art center. Since then, a presentation of visual arts has been the crux of Netwerk’s activity. Every year, Netwerk organized several art exhibitions, and combined with them performance and music events.
At the end of 2016, Els Silvrants-Barclay and Pieternel Vermoortel took over the general and artistic direction of Paul Lagring, who had been in charge of Netwerk since its beginning. In 2017, Els Silvrants-Barclay and Pieternel Vermoortel worked on an intensive transition together with their team, which resulted in a new mission, vision, programme structure and internal organisation. The new mission is based on current needs of the field of visual arts, and takes Aalst as a starting point. Netwerk changed its name to Netwerk Aalst, and put visual arts first, with a focus on artistic production. From 2019 onwards, Netwerk Aalst will start a full- blown film programme.
The building of Netwerk Aalst covers 2.000 square metres and includes offices, meeting rooms, a fully equipped studio, an artist's residence, a café, a bookshop, a film theater and 1.200 m2 of exhibition space.