Facing Brussels

TV news shows depict a pitiful side of Brussels. Ratings axioms and mental laziness have reduced the city to a conglomeration of troubled youth, lawless murderers and trigger-happy gangsters. Now and then we see a Muslim extremist appear before the camera, sporting a Santa Claus beard, white tennis socks and a purely auxiliary person dressed in niqab.

Oh well. What do you expect? The glorious summer terraces, the beautiful squares with benches and ancient trees, the glowing lawns of wide-spread parks, the world-renowned art collections and the overwhelming array of culinary delicacies from all over the world are not newsworthy anywhere else either. They were noticed though, and contributed to Brussels being fourteenth in the list of the most agreeable cities to live. Just under Amsterdam but 18 positions higher than Paris and 24 above London.

And yet, it is no easy love affair, that which we have for Brussels. Grim yet grand, posh yet poor, grey and green, delightful and depressing, this city is all that. Brussels is like a mosaic of shards of glass, each reflecting varying degrees of light, depending on how you look at it. As a tourist, commuter or resident. As homeless, aristocrat or eurocrat. Those born here look at things differently to migrants – from near and far – of first, second or third generation.

11 Flemish and French speaking photographers zoomed in on the many worlds that make this city and Catherine Vuylsteke provided their images with texts.

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