Brussels at the epicenter of New Renaissance in Belgium

Huawei launches #CityRenaissance campaign for up-and-coming creative talent.

The arrival of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is shaping a whole new world, one with a tremendous amount of opportunities in the creative industry. The possibilities in artistic expression are so numerous that it will lead to what has been described as a ‘new renaissance’. According to an independent study commissioned by Huawei, Brussels is one of the epicenters of this new renaissance in Belgium. For that reason, Huawei has developed a new concept: #CityRenaissance. And it’s kicking off in our capital with three exhibitions at WIELS.

Hundreds of years after the original Renaissance, we are witnessing a similar cultural frisson of big ideas driving innovation and change. During the original Renaissance, Belgium was at the heart of the cultural exchange. Wealthy trade routes allowed an influx of people and ideas, with Bruges and Antwerp in the epicenter of those exciting times. That ecosystem cultivated a vibrant platform for artists whose works are still known and cherished to this day.

The stars of the new renaissance, however, won’t be artists such as Pieter Brueghel the Elder or Quentin Matsys, but everyday people that are getting more and more opportunities to express themselves.

Says Giles Lane – artist, designer, and founder of creative studio Proboscis, “In this ‘new renaissance’, our understandings of what it means to be creative and visionary is changing. For centuries, it was people with power and wealth who defined who could be creative. Now, distributed networks and communications technologies are opening up to the near-universal possibility for expression and sharing of creativity.”


Democratizing photography

To fully grasp this new creative renaissance, Huawei has launched a new concept: #CityRenaissance. The first outcome of the concept is a series of three smartphone photography exhibitions at contemporary art centre WIELS showcasing the work of amateur photographers. Each exhibition aims to translate the best Belgian photography found on photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram into immersive offline experiences, recognizing up-and-coming Belgian artistic talent in the process.

“The exhibitions reflect a wider democratization of photography as an art form,” notes Jurgen Thysmans, spokesperson for Huawei Belgium. “Once, you needed an expensive reflex camera and several lenses to take a good photo. Today, the average smartphone has a camera with good enough image quality to do the same thing, enhanced by the power of AI and machine learning. Thanks to smartphones putting cameras into everyone’s hands, more pictures are being taken than ever before. This is transforming visual culture on a daily basis. The result? A creative renaissance we’re seeking to showcase through these three WIELS exhibitions.”

Speaking about the partnership, Martine de Limburg Stirum, head of Public Relations and Development at WIELS, says, “We are happy to welcome Huawei as a new partner that will further our education and mediation mission.”

Showcasing spontaneity

The first exhibition (25/04-17/06) features images which tell the story of life in and around the city and showcases the works of amateur Belgian photographers who have partnered with Huawei. One of the photographers whose work is on display is Bouchta El Dib, a teacher from Brussels, whose images encapsulate his love for the Belgian capital.

“I love photos that show life as it is. Spontaneous and un-posed. My smartphone is an ideal companion. Nobody gives you funny looks when you take out your smartphone on the street to take a few photos. This means you can move more freely than with a traditional camera. It also means you can capture unexpected moments where you might not have your camera to hand. It’s great to be able to count on your smartphone camera without having to compromise.”


Be part of the #CityRenaissance

The exhibition takes a fresh look at some of Belgian’s best-known cities. But it also shows the potential of smartphones when it comes to photography. It’s in that spirit that Huawei is encouraging everyone inspired by the exhibit to roll up their sleeves and snap the best images of their own cities. The second exhibition (26/07-09/08) planned for summer 2018 will focus on images submitted by the public as part of Huawei’s #CityRenaissance campaign. The competition is open to anyone: just take a picture of your city with any smartphone, then post it publicly on your favourite photo-sharing platform using the #CityRenaissance hashtag. A jury of expert judges will review all entries and the best images will be exhibited in WIELS.