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Sofie ran toward me in hall of the Gare du Midi in Brussels, and as soon as our bodies met we realised we were wearing almost the same thing: double denim, white trainers, a simple t-shirt. The next few minutes were a complete blur of overwhelming emotions, extreme happiness and my cheeks hurting from smiling too much. A group of us who had met at the Schloss Solitude art residency in Stuttgart, Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic had staged a reunion in Brussels, where Sofie lives. We spent the rest of the day talking at each other at hyper speed, visiting the exhibition of Belgian architect and feminist Simone Guillissen-Hoa, eating Congolese food in Ixelles, during which most of us ordered whole-fishes and plantain, speaking about life and loss in l'Athénée, and helping each other remember the many stories and moments we shared in the residency. Our experience of Schloss Solitude - a 17th century castle near a baroque forest - was particularly unusual as it happened during the second and third 'waves' of the Covid pandemic. We found ourselves - 35 artists from around the world - stranded in a castle on the top of a hill, affected by a rigorous German curfew and travel ban on movement between regions, let alone countries. Yet our 'castle of crossed destinies' ended up being some of the most memorable months of our lives, with experiments in collective living, workshops and teach-ins, dance classes, countless forest walks and excursions, mushrooms trips, meals and the making of what is now a family. When I went outside of l'Athénée to capture an image from NOAA-18, the night was late but there was still a thin light, and Sofie, Olivia and George came out with me. I spoke to a group of strangers who were immediatley interested in the radio antenna and satellite image, and we laughed in a semi photo shoot with the four of us. I wondered if the radio-borne satellite image, however noisy due to the tall surrounding buildings and angles of the city, registered the frequencies of our joy.


15 June 2024 21:43:18


Outside L'Athénée bar, Ixelles, Brussels

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Sasha Engelmann



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50.835105, 4.366252