Sjoeke is a Brussels'Flemish word for darling, so you can read this as "darlings from Brussels"; connected with the French word "choux" you can also read this as Brussels'sprouts; mon chou is also used in French to say "my darling"; this blog on life in Brussels started originally in support of the BOZAR project POZE to document life in St Josse and other Brussels' towns. A Sjoeke is also a delicious pastry (chocolate or mocca with a cream filling, éclair in French)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Sunday, 12 February 2006

This is a kind of Pre Valentine Encounter. I invited one of my best friends to come around and have a dinner together in Restaurant Old Bosnia.

While talking on the present state of our own lives I gave her some presents: the latest CD's of An Pierlé and a free ticket to a book fair.

Anne Marie Finné is one of the most gifted painters I met in the academy of Molenbeek (1080 Brussels). She lives in Laeken (1020 Brussels) and we remained in touch and became very good friends.
She introduced me to the music of Pierlé this summer. That's why I gave her the CD's.

It was snowing that day and she biked from her home to mine and returned the same way.
She emailed me within the next hour: "Bien rentrée plein de neige dans les yeux"
(arrived home well with plenty of snow in the eyes)
Reacted back: better to have snow in the eyes than snow in the heart.

Not that there is any danger of that. To discover some of the splendid art work by Anne Marie:

In front of my door. The balloons indicate a birthday party of some of my Polish neighbors.

Sunday, February 26, 2006



November 1999
I still lived in Dupont street, near the Northern Railway Station in Brussels,
a border zone between Schaerbeek (1030 Brussels) and 1210 Brussels (St Josse)

I got the idea of hanging a teddy bear in the garden connected with my ground floor flat to protest against the death penalty and I sent the photos as a contibution to a Spanish mail art project in support of an Amnesty International campaign.

To be honest, I would never come up with that idea without being part of the white march, when 300 000 Belgians marched against the murder of children by pedophiles. Our political system nearly collapsed in what I described as the "spaghetti rebellion". People threw spaghetti at the court houses when an investigation judge was sacked because he had eaten spaghetti with some of the children he had saved. This was considered by the supreme court as being "impartial" and the country went frantic afterwards. One week of general protest and strikes (started by the workers of the Volkswagen factory in Brussels, everyone else followed!) ended in the white march, the biggest demonstration ever witnessed in the capital of the country ...)

People where dressed in white, wearing white balloons, saying nothing at all, clapping hands all the time, children were carrying toys & teddy bears. It made me ....

The parents of the murdered kids spoke out against the death penalty. For them revenge was not the answer. Also they considered that a possible death penalty for pedophiles meant the death sentence for the kidnapped children for sure. I marveled at their wisdom and it marked my mind for the years to come. The hanging of children's toys became for me the ultimate statement against the "US way of dealing with all crimes" ...

There was one moment when I really vomited in my life (without being severely drunk):
when GW Bush made fun of a human being in death row begging for life...
Then I realized the gap between humanism and barbarism forever!

The only Belgian mail artist who marched with me that day was Geert De Decker and I think this has bonded us for life despite differences altogether.

Saturday, February 25, 2006



An Italian mail art project asked contributions to the theme of "women reading". According to them women read in all places and all positions.

Maybe, but I saw it differently: women read because they are worried about radiation, was my motto. Of course this has to do with my day job. I work for an Agency who regulates and controls all nuclear applications in the country. So I asked some femail co-workers to read the same book on measuring radiation. They did it and had lots of fun. The 4 first pictures are from my office, located behind Central Station in the town center.


This last photo is from Zois, an American mail artist who was in Brussels at that time. She put a red clown nose on the book and her own nose. Photo was shot in the wine bar Goupille La Folle, one of my favorite spots, behind the Grand Place. The owner makes his own wines, the one he makes with nuts will make you nuts!


Taking pictures in the "metro" is always a bit tricky but I like the underground and the people traveling on the subway trains.

I did an "underground" mail art project in 1995, which was open to all interpretations of course and of course it went off course as was intended.

This splendid picture (okay my way of looking) on a splendid co-worker (CATHY and the rest is non of your business) was shot during a ride from a yearly sports event. The idea to unite workers once a year in sports is from an age nobody remembers.

As far as I'm concerned I walk in the woods and talk and eat and drink. And take photos of course, that seems to be a very difficult sport. I don't remember if the gesture of Cathy's hands happened spontaneously or was orchestrated by me to be in tune with some of the splendid hand art on some of the subway walls (based on the henna decorations of hands, which is a tradition in certain Muslim cultures during wedding ceremonials for instance) GV

Subway station near Southern Railway Station (photo: Lavona Sherarts)

Ryosuke Cohen on the Brussels' subway during his visit to Belgium.

Cohen is one of the major mail artists from Japan and behind the project of BRAIN CELL SHEETS.

In recent years he unites the sheets together to make life size portraits of himself and other mail artists he visits and encounters.

He lives, works and teaches in Osaka.

Very different picture of the same

ride, different light and very different

mood indeed

Ryosuke & me, seen by Lavona. I forgot about the man in the back but yes, subway hands again!