See You There
It's an age old dilemma. You're hanging with a group of friends and here it comes, the dreaded question: "Sooooo, what do you wanna do tonight?"
As we all know, Belgium is chalk-full of art exhibits, cool restaurants, concerts, shopping and lots of other interesting things to do. However, how does one go about discovering these people, places and events off the beaten tourist path? That is just the question Sarah Schug, editor-in-chief and founder of the online magazine, See You There, thought when she first moved to Belgium from Germany eight years ago. Thus, in February 2014, See You There was born: an online magazine highlighting some of the coolest events and openings happening across Belgium each week.
The site has grown tremendously over the past two years and recently went through a complete re-branding. What started as a place to share some of the interesting events she found while googling "what to do in Belgium this week" had transformed into a growing archive of interviews with artists and musicians, information on gallery openings, release parties, concerts, festivals, art walks and expos, guides and giveaways. Some of the magazine's quintessential features include 7 Days in Belgium where each week the site highlights seven exciting openings and events happening in Belgium that week, New Kid On The Block where you can discover See You There's favorite new start ups and Belgians Abroad which puts the spotlight on Belgian artists' adventures abroad.
Thursday 3 March, See You There is going "offline" for their first live event: No Place Like Home. This photography exhibition featuring six photographers whose work is consistently featured on the site will run through 10 March at the Brussels Art Department.
Recently, I Love Belgium met up in Sarah's apartment and talked about why she loves Belgium and the upcoming exhibition.
Why did you start See You There?
I was already regularly doing the research to find out about things to do in Belgium, and then I thought, "I'm doing it anyway, why not share it with others?" There are so many great things happening in Belgium all over the country and so many young initiatives and exhibitions and new galleries opening, but it’s not communicated very well. Even if you’re interested in it, it’s hard to find out about it. There are some websites that just list everything, but no one guides you through it. It’s a bit of a jungle.
Why did you decide to write the website in English?
I’m a German freelance journalist and mostly write in English. I don’t know how to write in French or Dutch, so that was never a question. Plus, I find it important to do something for the whole country, and not choose the language of just Wallonia or Flanders. Most Belgians do speak English, and that way tourists or expats are able to read the site as well.
What’s your favorite thing about Belgium?
It’s the spirit of the people. I feel Belgians have this mentality of doing everything themselves. They don’t rely on the government or institutions and structures that already exist. For example when art students want to show their work and can’t find a gallery, they just open up an art space themselves somewhere. I really like that. People here appreciate new initiatives and it’s easy to find someone to do projects together and mount something nice.
Where do you find the photos that you use on the website and for the exhibition?
In the beginning I just took images from my photographer friends, but at one point I also started receiving emails from photographers asking me if I wanted to use their photos. From the beginning photography has been quite a major aspect of the website. I always carefully select which images I use: they have to be analogue, shot in Belgium, and they need to work together. The exhibition features six photographers that have been regularly contributing to the site, which is why I knew that their individual styles would work well together. They were completely free in choosing what they wanted to show, but it had to be related to Belgium. In the end, when you see them all together, it feels a bit like a mosaic that shows this weird little country from many different perspectives.
Why did you decide to hold the No Place Like Home event?
I’ve been thinking about doing something offline and in real life for quite a while. And with photography being such a major part of the magazine, it just seemed quite obvious to do a photography exhibition. We didn’t think much about it and just went for it, found a theme and a space and it just happened. I’m super excited but also a little stressed because I’ve never been a curator before. There is so much to do! You have to manage all the artists and figure out how the art goes together. How are we going to show them? Frames? No frames? small? Big? How many? etc. I’ve learned a lot in the last weeks.
Are there plans to hold "offline" events in the future?
Yes. I called the exhibition "offline #1" because it's supposed to be the first of many things, it doesn't have to be an exhibition. It could be a concert night or party. We'll see. We want to not just write about everything but contribute to the creative environment.