13 — 19.05, 21 — 26.05, 28.05 — 03.06.2023

Tania Bruguera Havana-Boston

The School of Integration / Lexicon

free school — premiere

Les Brigittines

Accessible for wheelchair users | Free participation, registration required (limited capacity), 3-classes commitment

Brussels is home to 180 nationalities, with 108 languages spoken, and learning the city’s official languages – French and Dutch – is seen as a crucial parameter of successful integration. In recent months, Tania Bruguera built classes in collaboration with citizens whose mother tongue is one of the city’s many ‘unofficial’ languages: Arabic, Ukrainian, Lingala, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese and Polari. These languages link to communities with very different histories of presence and arrival in Brussels, which illustrates the heterogeneity of migration and the cultural richness created by all who have made this city their home. Each course conveys one language in a specific and very personal way: through practice or by reflecting on political concepts and how they are expressed. The School sees integration as more than an inscription in the dominant language(s); it is a horizontal process that can build bridges of cultural understanding. Each course consists of three lessons (once a week) and takes place at the Festival Centre, transforming it into a new polyphonic language school for the entire month. You're most welcome to dive into one or more languages!



14, 21, 28.05
18:00 – 19:30 | NL, EN
with Tatiana Gubina

This course focuses on ukrainian through the connection between motherhood, mother tongue and migration. How people pass on a language and culture even though they are far away from their
motherland. Brussels-based artist Tatiana Gubina and her daughter will discuss the transmission of knowledge with the participants during these language lessons conceived as painting lessons.


15, 22, 29.05
18:00 – 19:30 | FR
with Noureddine Ezarraf and Salim Djaferi

The term ‘colonisation’ does not have an exact translation in Arabic. It can correspond with ‘order’ or ‘destruction’, or with the phrase ‘when they were here’. Theatre artist Salim Djaferi recently created a performance about this matter, Koulounisation. Now, Djaferi collaborates with Noureddine Ezarraf to build a course that transmits the richness of Arabic, using the language to offer new ways of thinking about history.


16, 23, 30.05
18:00 – 19:30 | EN
with Marcos Simoes

The Portuguese community in Belgium has evolved over decades, from mine workers fleeing the dictatorship in the 1970s, to the wide diversity we find today. Marcos Simoes is a Brussels-based theatre-maker of Portuguese origin who is also a skilled carpet weaver. His course conveys Portuguese through a collective practice of carpet weaving. In combining the two, Simoes' course reflects on the concept of (social) fabric in the discourse on integration.


17, 24, 31.05
18:00 – 19:30 | FR
with Monique Mbeka Phoba

Monique Mbeka Phoba is a Belgian filmmaker and researcher whose family has roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along with guest speakers, she traces the history and evolution of Lingala and reflects on the role of women in the leading musical genre associated with Lingala: Congolese rumba. This journey, inspired by her current project Rumba Divas, is conceived through the prism of the Congolese diasporas in Brussels, and more particularly the ones in the Matonge district.

Mandarin Chinese

18, 25.05, 01.06
18:00 – 19:30 | EN, FR
with Liyo Gong

Liyo Gong is a film editor and music curator based in Brussels. Her course uses cinema and editing as a starting point to explore how Chinese language can carry a different approach to narrativity. Can we, by giving importance to the associations created by images, learn to resist linearity and static categories, and embrace the poetic vocabulary of impermanence? As a Mandarin Chinese speaker who grew up in Europe, Liyo Gong wishes the course to be a place to share and reflect on our cultural intimacies, on the languages and the invisible links we unearth by translating them.


19, 26.05, 02.06
18:00 – 19:30 | EN
with Gérald Kurdian

Polari (from the Italian ‘parlare’, 'to talk') was a form of slang spoken by queer people in the ports and theatres of Europe between the 16th and 19th centuries. This secret language was transmitted only from person to person, a safe tool not to be understood from the outside. Polari gradually disappeared with the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Today, Gérald Kurdian teaches the language and its history, reactivating its transmission within the community. Considering the history of Polari, this course is only open to people who identify as queer.


Waiting list

If the course you are interested in is already sold out, you can subscribe to the waiting list here.

→ see also: Free School

Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Les Brigittines
Commissioned and produced by Kunstenfestivaldesarts
With the support of Brussels - Capital Region - Promotion of Multilinguism

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