Mindblowers was set up by the VUB and the Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS, or Royal Flemish Theatre) as a place where scientists, artists, performers and academics come together. Scientists and artists are the visionaries of our society, and Mindblowers gives them voice. Every year, Mindblowers tackles a specific theme and creates performances and interventions that take sit at the crossroads between art, culture and reflection – an intersection of activism, artivism and academicism.
Mindblowers has taken place every October since 2017 at KVS, and a special edition of Mindblowers was launched in the summer of 2021 in partnership with Theater aan Zee.
KVS and VUB share a great fascination for Brussels, and they have worked together closely for a number of years. Our diverse, multilingual city is an exciting laboratory for both organisations, and remains a constant source of wonder, wisdom, compassion and exasperation. KVS and VUB share the belief that connections are the answer to the future we face, and that tomorrow’s society will not be built on the foundations of one’s own beliefs alone. Mindblowers began as a unique pilot project and remains pioneering and one of a kind. In each edition, students, researchers, artists and scientists join forces for an evening of co-creation and performance, bringing together the finest minds from both university and the theatre communities.
Where Art and Science Meet
In 2021, over 40 artists and scientists came together to celebrate five years of Mindblowers in a new publication, called Mindblowers: Where Art and Science Meet. The book serves as a stimulating and unforgettable journey through the senses, and its themes – resistance, imagination, time and beauty – become lenses through which the authors observe our world. Their contributions seek to break down traditional divisions between art and science, and each author starts from a place of curiosity and wonder that is personal to them, ranging from recipes to letters, articles to photo-novellae. This unique collection is a fascinating reference point for anyone with an interest in art and science, active citizenship/engagement or our shared future – a collector’s item that provokes both thought and the senses on every page.
Mindblowers: Where Art and Science Meet was the brainchild of Caroline Pauwels (Honorary Rector, VUB), Michael De Cock (Artistic Director, KVS), Lynn Tytgat (weKONEKT.brussels, VUB) and Catherine Vervaecke (Planning and Production, KVS). Contributing authors include Laurent De Sutter, Hala El Moussawi, Thierry Boutemy, Koen Vanmechelen, Jean Paul Van Bendegem, Fien Leysen, Carme Portaceli, Vincent Ginis, Benjamin De Cleen, Michel Maus, Karen Celis, Rachida Lamrabet and more.
You can buy Mindblowers: Where Art and Science Meet at your local bookstore or online.
The inaugural Mindblowers took Resistance as its theme. A finely selected program of both national and international thinkers and artists shared their thoughts on what resistance means today, what it has meant in the past and what it could mean for our future.
The second edition of Mindblowers was an ode to Imagination. Academics and artists collaborated from a place of curiosity, wonder, freedom, creativity and critical thinking. Only when we think, dream and imagine the unimaginable is it possible for science and art to explore new horizons.
In 2019, artists and academics tackled Time in a series of short, incisive and surprising interventions. Time is a concept that has fascinated artists and scientists for centuries. How time changes things, how things repeat themselves, what time teaches us… and how we can capture all this in art and science.
The fourth edition chose Beauty as its theme, and indeed became one of the most beautiful editions because the Covid pandemic meant it took place in the open air. It asked: what is beauty, what do we find beautiful and how can it influence our lives for the better?
2021: Place and space
The 2021 edition took place on stage over the course of an evening, with academics and artists investigating both the limitlessness and the limitations of Place and Space. The Covid crisis affected our spaces, making them both smaller and larger: we were house-bound but could travel further than ever by virtual and digital means…
2021: Mindblowers at Sea
In summer 2021, four special editions of Mindblowers aan Zee were dedicated to Wonder, which was also the overall theme of the festival Theater aan Zee, which Honorary Rector Caroline Pauwels was invited to curate.
The sixth edition of Mindblowers focused on Love. What is humankind without love? To ask the question is to answer it. No theme has filled more books, films, and hearts. It seems inextricably bound to the arts, to which emotions, relationships and connections are fundamental, but (of course) love is also a driving force behind much of science.