Poppies and Literature
Together with the museum In Flanders Fields, we are inviting five writers and a photographer for a residency in Ypres, to reflect on the grim anniversary of the Second Battle of Ypres, and in particular on the first large-scale gas attack in history (April 22nd 2015). We ask aloud questions about the relationship between science and war, about historical and contemporary cultures of memorial, and about the innocence – or guilt – of landscape. An international party of artists will settle temporarily in the Westhoek to formulate a current answer to John McCrae’s poem, and to visit the Flanders fields where the famous poppies bloom.
The residencies got underway in April 2015. Our first guest was Algerian author Maïssa Bey, followed by Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun. From the Low Countries, Catherine Vuylsteke and Kees t’ Hart each spent a fortnight in the Westhoek to write a citybook. The Irish author Dermot Bolger completes the project. He takes up residency in Ypres in the summer of 2017, during the commemoration of Irish poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge who died on 31 July 1917.
The visual part of this project will come from German photographer Oliver Leu, who photographed a city portrait in 24 images.
citybooks Ypres is coordinated in collaboration with local partner In Flanders Fields Museum. As with the series Grote Woorden (Big Words), this project takes place in the context of the HERA research project CEGC: ‘Cultural Exchange in a Time of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War.’