christophe terlinden

Belgian artist Christophe Terlinden incorporated Abdellatif Laâbi's poetry into a sculpture for the Princess Elizabeth district in Schaarbeek.

The sculpture consists of a traffic light pole painted black, to which a reflecting sign panel is attached. Inscribed on it is Abdellatif Laâbi's poem When Poets Pass By, in three languages, namely Dutch, French and Arabic. By attaching a bronze apple to the end the artist has created a ‘poetry tree' in its very simplest form.

Belgian artist Christophe Terlinden presented Abdellatif Laâbi's poems to the residents of the Princess Elizabeth district in Schaarbeek by affixing them to supports so that everyone was confronted with them every day. This was later followed by a sculpture.

From mid-February to mid-March 2006 all the correspondence of the Schaarbeek town council was stamped with an excerpt of poetry in Dutch, French and Arabic. Posters of the poem were displayed in the district, pavements became temporary poetic pedestrian pathways, and at Terlinden's request the actor Kris Cuppens read poems out loud to individual passers-by.


Jette 2 © Maurine Toussaint

Abdellatif Laâbi and Christophe Terlinden explored the area together in autumn 2005. Terlinden incorporated Laâbi's poems into posters, painted them on paving stones and had them stamped on local authority mail. The actor Kris Cuppens was brought in to give intimate readings to chance passers-by. In December 2007 Christophe Terlinden's work was given a festive unveiling in the small park on Huart-Hamoirlaan: his sculpture took the form of a poetry tree on which one can read Abdellatif Laâbi's poem 'Als dichters voorbijkomen' (When Poets Pass By). Schoolchildren also showed the results of their poetry workshops.

The work has been vandalized and is unfortunately no longer visible for the moment. The municipality of Schaerbeek is doing everything possible to repair this.

the artist


Christophe Terlinden's art is emphatically social in nature and irony is never far away. In 2000 he was the initiator of LUME: words formed by the lights in windows in Brussels office blocks. Among other things he also designed a new European flag and a € 1000 banknote showing Manneken Pis. In 2003, for his peace proposal for the Middle East he was awarded the main prize for young talent in Young Belgian Painting, the most substantial award for young talent in the Belgian art world. His work has been shown at the M HKA, Wiels and the Musée d'Art Contemporain in Lyon.

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