LE MUTSAERT — DE MUTSAARD
In the Mutsaard district the artist Christian Israel worked with Miriam Van hee's new poem ‘Brussel, de Mutsaard'.
By ‘poetically contaminating' about fifty street name-boards Israel allowed Van hee's poem to infiltrate the streetscape. He replaced the signs with slightly larger ones on which Van hee's poems were printed in French and Dutch. As a metaphor for Brussels the two versions of the poem were intertwined but did not touch.
Previously, Christian Israel made temporary art works in which Van hee's poem could be read. He combined the fragility of poetry with the transience of food. This resulted in a series of poems printed on bars of chocolate, edible paper and placemats for local restaurants. Miriam Van hee's poem was printed in both Dutch and French. Israel also gave the residents the opportunity to experience the poetry directly in their familiar surroundings. By means of brightly coloured ribbons, people were able to read Van hee's poetry in unexpected settings. Some strips of the printed ribbon were left blank so that pupils at neighbouring schools could write their own poems on them and then hang them on trees.
In autumn 2005 the poet Miriam Van hee and artist Christian Israel took a guided tour of the Mutsaard. The result of the visit was Van hee's muted poem brussel - de mutsaard. Christian Israel played on the bilingualism of the district and interwove the original version of the poem with a French translation on tablets of chocolate, edible paper, ribbons and place mats. He then went back to the area with all this material: the trees and lamp-posts were then hung with ribbons, people in restaurants read poems on their place mats and pupils in the nearby schools set to work with the edible poems and blank ribbons. Lastly, Israel integrated the poem into new street signs for four streets. For the inauguration in spring 2008, pupils exhibited poetry tiles in several shop windows in Wandstraat.
Christian Israel and his work lie at the crossroads of the old and new worlds. This artist has lived successively in Santiago de Chile, Munich, Barcelona and, most recently, Brussels. Both Latin America and Europe have a powerful influence on his work, and his oeuvre is characterised by a passion for architectural forms and spaces, history and language. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions all over the world. He has designed a work for a public space in Brussels before: for Brussels 2000 he made 'Dalles', which is situated on Place Fontainas / Fontainasplein.