In need of some cultural stimulation during the long and slow summer months? EUTOPIA has got you covered!

EUTOPIA, that’s six different regions in six different countries of different sizes, different historical backgrounds, different demographics, and different cultural heritage, both material and intangible. Rather than viewing our numerous differences as obstacles, the EUTOPIA alliance chooses to celebrate them, to see the richness they represent. Or, in the words of one of our students, illustrated in her winning design for the EUTOPIA tote bag design competition: “together we thrive”.

With #EUTOPIACultureClub, members of the EUTOPIA community share their national must-reads, favorite compatriot artists, songs, artwork, films, theatre performances, recipes for national dishes, talk about their favorite national holiday or tradition, … 

Ready for a steady stream of cultural tips coming your way?

Theater Aan Zee

Tipped by VUB rector Caroline Pauwels

Theater Aan Zee  – or Theatre by the Sea – is an annual theatre and music festival in the Belgian coastal town of Ostend. 17 days filled with performing arts in the most unusual of open-air locations, with VUB’s rector Caroline Pauwels curating this year’s covid-proof edition. Sounds like the perfect mini-trip / escape from the Brussels city heat to us! 

WHAT: Theatre festival Theater Aan Zee
WHEN: 23 July – 8 August
WHERE: Ostend, Belgium
MORE INFO: theateraanzee.be  

Albert rooftop bar and restaurant

Tipped by Carmen Mazijn, EUTOPIA PhD student representative

Pay a visit to ‘Albert’, the rooftop bar/restaurant on top of the Belgian Royal Library to enjoy a refreshing summer drink! A secluded spot in the very heart of Brussels, known to host fabulous covid-proof open-airs on Sunday afternoons!

WHAT: Albert Rooftop bar/restaurant
WHERE: Place du Musée 1, 1000 Brussels
MORE INFO: kbr.be/nl/restaurant/

Stay tuned, tips coming soon!

Gurney, Fletcher, phantoms of surrealism, Dubuffet, Paula Rego and British picnics

Tipped by EUTOPIA Lead for internationalization Sean Hand

Lockdown easing in England affords the luxury of returning to the most glorious traditions of the British summer: eating ‘Indian’ curry, drinking ‘Thai’ lager, and watching others win at sports invented by Britannia…  

The pandemic has been a tragedy for professional musicians. As adapted concerts start up, it has been moving to experience intimate performances that console or rouse emotions. I am especially looking forward to a recital that includes music by the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, whose shattering experience of the First World War and deep love for his native Gloucester combined to create a traditional yet haunting English expression of reconnection. His song ‘Sleep’, setting a text by Fletcher, is hugely affecting at this time:

Though but a shadow, but a sliding
Let me know some little joy!
We that suffer long annoy
Are contented with a thought
Through an idle fancy wrought:
O let my joys have some abiding!’ 

Less elegiacally, I also want to visit a number of exhibitions in London whose recurrent sense of anarchy and danger will hopefully feed the thrill of release. The Whitechapel Gallery’s archive exhibition entitled ‘Phantoms of Surrealism’ foregrounds the actions of women as artists and organisers within the British Surrealist scene from the 1930s on, featuring among others the marvellous Sheila Legge, Claude Cahun, and the politically active Artists International Association. The same gallery is also displaying work by Eileen Agar. who could find surrealist ecstasy even in sedate seaside spots like Swanage. At the Barbican, there is a major display of Dubuffet’s brutalism; while Tate Britain is showing the largest retrospective yet of the phantasmagorical work of Paula Rego: both seem strangely prophetic when viewed through the covid lens. 

As a calmer joy, our family will also hold a much postponed picnic (itself a very British summer ritual), in celebration now of successful graduations as well as being together, in a pastoral setting above Oxford made nostalgically famous by Matthew Arnold in ‘The Scholar Gipsy’ and ‘Thyrsis’, and where free from the ‘sick fatigue’, ‘languid doubt’, ‘sad patience’ and ‘strange disease of modern life’, we can perhaps forget worries for a while, as our ‘eye travels down to Oxford’s towers’ – still discernible even now behind electric pylons and a rumbling ring-road.

WHAT:

Orlando in the Costa Brava, interactive performances in the Grec Festival and a historical route in the Ebre area: days and bays to explore the vestiges of Mediterranity

Tipped by Manel Jiménez-Morales, Vice-Rector for Educational Transformation, Culture and Communication and Professor of Communication at UPF

“Where we went in the boat was a long bay
a slingshot wide, walled in by towering stone–
Peaked margin of antiquity’s delay,
And we went there out of time’s monotone”
– Allen Tate, The Mediterranean

“For Mediterranean souls, Catalonia could be the perfect arrival in a journey no matter the season, but Summer is obviously the explosion of the Mediterranity. Many cultural activities acquire an extra dimension linked to the heritage of a genuine lifestyle and the traditions of a civilisation. If anyone wants to taste the flavours of this antiquity’s delay, there’s nothing better than going down the coastal area from Girona to Tarragona taking a breather in Barcelona. I’ll do it!

First stop, Sant Martí d’Empúries, a small medieval town in the Costa Brava, Girona, where a visit to the ancient Greek and Roman colonies is always worth a visit. Then I’ll head a few kilometres up to Peralada, where I am looking forward to attending a yearly outdoor classic music festival, in the vicinity of its majestic castle dating from the XIII century. This edition we have a promising Orlando by Händel which seems to grasp the literary references of the Bloomsbury Group and transport them to a contemporary universe.

Once in my own contemporary universe, I’ll transport myself back to Barcelona to enjoy another festival, this time, the Grec, devoted to performing arts. The Grec Festival was originally conceived to be hosted in the Greek Theatre in the Montjuïc hill, an open-air theatre constructed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition and inspired in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Nevertheless, the Festival has expanded its events to many other venues. At the beginning of July, there was an outstanding proposal by Peter Brook about The Tempest, the Shakespeare’s romance that has been chosen as the UPF’s book this academic year, and you can still participate in an interactive installation by the always stimulating German creators Rimini Protokoll.

Once in Tarragona, I’ll be at the end of the Summer in the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park, in the southernmost corner of Catalonia, where the river’s estuary created a privileged and well-preserved landscape environment, epitome of our Planetary Wellbeing motto. The adjoining area was also the scenery of the longest and most intense battle of the Spanish Civil War, so a route throughout the spots of the conflict will be a pedagogical way to explain to the youngest of the family some facts and consequences of our own history. The old town of Corbera, still remaining exactly as the day it was destroyed by the bombardments, or the Memorial Museum of Gandesa are cultural vestiges of an unforgettable episode of our country.

Unfortunately, the days will be gradually shorter and the Summer will recede languidly for sure after all these experiences. But the Mediterranity spirit will last the whole year as it has lasted for centuries inviting autochthonous and foreigners to enjoy its culture and placidly moor in its long welcoming bays.”

WHAT:

Garden concerts and locally caught scampi

Tipped by Torbjörn Lundh, EUTOPIA coordinator for Knowledge Creation

“What I musically look forward to this year is to attend a local series of small garden concerts arranged by a music student, Alma Bengmark, at her parents’ garden and with her friends as musicians. The next one is on July 31 and has a theme of traditional Swedish folk music including instruments such as the ‘nyckelharpa’.

Regarding the corporeal food, I am very much looking forward to eating locally caught scampi, Nephrops norvegicus. Adding some aioli and a baguette, you have a dinner for royalty. Well, at least if you also throw in a bottle of cold dry white wine.”

WHAT: Garden Concerts Trädgårdskonserter i Billdal
WHEN: Next concert 31 July
MORE INFO:  Trädgårdskonserter i Billdal 

Picnics by the ocean and aperitivo in the bars of Gothenburg

Tipped by Uwe Fromm, EUTOPIA Student Career Ambassador at University of Gothenburg

“During the summer I enjoy packing a small picnic basket to enjoy a beautiful day at the ocean with my friends. This year, it is quite warm, so cooling off by taking a swim feels super good and refreshing! 

As a lot of my friends spend their summer where they grew up with their families, I will take the chance to visit them and by that discover more of Sweden outside of Gothenburg. 

In the evenings, when not at the ocean or somewhere else in Sweden, I like to grab a nice ‘aperitivo’ at one of the very nice and cozy cafes here in Gothenburg – a beautiful tradition that I took from my semester in Italy.”

Stay tuned, tips coming soon!