European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Antwerp 1993

In memory of Eric Antonis who died at the age of 73 on 14.November 2014, here a photo of him when attending the ECCM Symposium in Athens Oct. 2005

In the autumn of 1990 Eric Antonis was put in charge of the project that was to make Antwerp the cultural capital of Europe in 1993.

ANTWERP 93 became a European project with a distinct emphasis on (contemporary) art and by using the concept 'culture is doubt', it left more than just a mark in the long run.



ANTWERP 93’s policy plan made a conscious choice in favor of art: in favor of nuance, criticism, asking questions, exploring doubts and looking for answers. Furthermore, it expressly opted to create: to bring new texts, new pieces of music, new works of art, new theatre productions – and in this way, ANTWERP 93 also showed it was prepared to take risks.

Eight programs each relation to a specific sector were developed: Historical Projects, Music, Performing Arts, Discourse and Literature, Architecture and Urban Development, Film, Photography and Media Art, Contemporary Visual Art and Large-Scale Projects. Two projects by independent organizers, relating to fashion and silver, were brought together in a ninth Applied Art ‘sector’.

A Distant City: Historical Exhibitions


The ANTWERP 93 program of historical exhibitions served to draw public attention to the contributions Antwerp made to European culture.

Jacob Jordaens (1593 – 1678) was a large-scale exhibition which brought an overview of the oeuvre of the Antwerp baroque painter.

The Rubens Cantoor exhibition showed drawings which his pupil Willem Panneels copied from Ruben’s own studies.

The Panoramic dream, Antwerp and the World Fairs used objects, illustrations and reconstructions to evoke a picture of the three Antwerp expos, in 1885, 1894 and 1930.

Antwerp, Story of a Metropolis (16th – 17th centuries) told the story of Antwerp’s sudden rise as a Metropolis around 1500, its relatively short lived hey-day in the 16th century and its glorious twilight years in the 17th century.

Listening to the city: Music


The ANTWERP 93 program consisted mainly of ‘serious’ music. On the other hand, other cultures were included and ANTWERP 93 programmed Moroccan, Jewish, Spanish, Indian and Indonesian music. The Carrier Pigeons and Coloured Pencils project brought young people from Antwerp’s Moroccan community into contact with local and Moroccan teachers.

The music program also provided real scope for concerts of contemporary music with Karel Geoyvaerts’ Aquarius as the finale and the climax.

Twenty composers received commissions from Antwerp 93, and nineteen of these compositions were premiered in 1993.

Theatre, Dance, Opera: Performing Arts


The newly restored Bourla theatre was the venue for seven theatre productions, mostly creations.

Contemporary dance in Flanders always receives great attention. In association with de Singel, ANTWERP 93 staged Mozart / Concertarias by Anna Theresa De Keersmaeker to music by the Orchestre des Champs-Elisees conducted by Philippe Herreweghe. The Ballet Frankfurt dance three productions in Antwerp: Limb’s Theorem and The Loss of Small Detail by Forsythe and The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Fabre.

Antwerp 93 also organized a festival of contemporary opera: Orfeo (Hus / Lauwers), Red Rubber (D’haese/Steyermark), Missa e Combattimento (Monteverdi/Weir). Silent screams, difficult dreams (Knapik/Fabre) was the fourth opera.

Singling out the Book: Discourse and Literature


ANTWERP 93 chose to create a sharply-defined, international literary project, designed to enrich the existing one. This project, Discourse and Literature, produced five publications e.g. Occupied City by the Antwerp poet Paul Van Ostaije; Nouvelle Synthese d’Anvers provided, for example, a literary artistic reflection on urbanity and on the city of Antwerp.

The most important publication was the series of six Cahiers. Each Cahier comprises twelve texts relating to a specific theme.

For a City Culture: Urban Development and Architecture


Open City, ANTWERP 93’s Urban Development and Architecture program, focused on the concepts of ‘city’ and ‘urbanity’. The program aimed to concentrate the thoughts of a wide public on the urban phenomenon, to encourage international exchange, to escape the disciplinary straitjacket of urban planning and architecture and conversely to work towards achieving a city culture.

A Dream for a City: ANTWERP 93’s Large-Scale Projects


The large-scale events during the summer were chosen as a means of communication, as the creation of an unusual and inviting framework in which a large public would come face to face with an interesting artistic interpretation.

Applied Art


The retrospective exhibition 30 Years of Academy 1963 – 1993 showed photographs, designs and drawings from each academic year during that thirty-year period.



ANTWERP 93 was a large and complex project. Anyone who cares to refer back to the program will see that it clearly reflects the policy plan in tangible form. The program centered on art, stimulated the discussion about the place of art in society, showed a good deal of contemporary work by young artists and also gave many artists the opportunity to create new work. It showed Antwerp and Flanders to the world and brought the world to Antwerp. As a spin off from the Cultural Capital of Europe nomination, Antwerp enjoyed considerable interests from tourists in 1993 and the event as a whole clearly did much to enhance Antwerp’s image.


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