Comics and censorship, Spinoza’s car, a menacing pigeon and a walk in the park

Little U and I had a nice excursion into Brussels this morning, to see a small exhibiton on comics and censorship at the Bozar centre

We had a difficult moment taking a shortcut through the Galerie Ravenstein (a shopping arcade linking the musem to Central Station) when we encountered a pigeon in the rotunda. U has a thing about birds, and the pigeon seemed to be looking at us. It aggressively hid behind a staircase, causing further unease; and then flew up to the top of the gallery and malevolently dropped a twig on the floor, less than twenty metres away from where we were standing. Poor U was so frozen in terror of the evil pigeon that I could not even persuade her to turn her back on it so that we could walk the long way round via the Mont des Arts. Eventually the pigeon went away, to fulfill its nefarious plans elsewhere, as pigeons do, and we were able to proceed. As you can see from my photo (taken later), the Ravenstein rotunda is a small confined intimate claustrophobic space, where a determinedly murderous pigeon could easily wreak mayhem on unprepared human passers-by.

The Bozar exhibition itself is recommended, and it's only on for a month, so you need to go soon, if you are going at all. It is very cheap – U and I got in for €2 and €4, though I am not sure which of us was which. You get to it through a slightly labyrinthine set of steel corridors which I guess avoid the fire damage that the Bozar suffered in January. The exhibiton is a set of a dozen or so square pillars, each illustrating a particular theme of censorship of Belgian comics, with captions in English, Dutch and French. It's based on a book by Jan Smets. The themes include violence, sex, drugs (legal and illegal) and interestingly also criticism of the Belgian monarchy.

I was interested to see Bucquoy mentioned, but not his 1985 work Mourir à Creys-Malville, in which Prince Laurent is installed as monarch of a Fascist Wallonia, a puppet state of the evil French, in about 1993.

Also on display in Bozar is a rather wacky sculpture of a car encrusted with drinking glasses and tributes to the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

The exhibition did not take us long (and frankly it did not really engage U's interest), and we followed up with a cup of tea in the Park in the sun. Here's U with her faithful Android, and behind her you can just about see the Kiosk, described in Villette by Charlotte Brontë:

a Byzantine building—a sort of kiosk near the park's centre. Round about stood crowded thousands, gathered to a grand concert in the open air.

No crowds today. There was a briefer incident with a threatening pigeon in the Galerie Ravenstein on the way back, but we got home safely.

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