Hotel Charleroi is a flexible structure initiated by three European artists who would like to live and work in Charleroi. Located 60 km south from Brussels, Charleroi is a decaying industrial town with all associated symptoms -high unemployment rate, raising criminality, corruption affairs, etc. Ist surrealistic urban landscape, reminiscences from an intense industrial past (slag heaps, steel factories) along with numerous irrational public infrastructures planned in the sixties (metro, ring road on viaduct), don’t fit at all with its relatively small scale (pop. 400 000). In fact, Charleroi offers a very condensed overview of how Modernity developed in Europe and which social and economical problems resulted from it. The city nearly didn’t change since 30 years, and this makes it a very interesting investigation field for us, as it leaves everything open for a new generation of artists to position itself on our modern -and postmodern- heritage. Hotel Charleroi shares interest in Charleroi by inviting contemporary artists from all over Europe for short- or long-term residencies. Hotel Charleroi offers the residents a place to stay in Charleroi and propose them to use the city as a studio or laboratory for interventions of all kinds. Hotel Charleroi works together with local institutions and establishments to create networks and opportunities to show the results in the city. Most of the artist who found Hotel Charleroi don’t live in Charleroi all the time, they are organising temporary sessions in which the project takes place. The first session took place during summer 2010 (July & August). A further session is planned for March 2011 and one for July 2011. Hotel Charleroi financed the rent of the house (1000 €). Everything else (travel costs, living, material) was paid by the residents.
The project is an artist initiative, in which each of the involved artists (“the residents”) can reflect upon our activities and help to make the project grow further. Hotel Charleroi has a non-institutional status as an advantage to create a dynamic platform, able to adapt itself to every occasion it encounters. The project was initiated in April 2010 by three Vienna-based artists: Adrien Tirtiaux, Antoine Turillon, Hannes Zebedin.
The three initiating artists discuss about the further evolutions of the project, together with the residents who wish to be involved. At the moment this constitutes “the board”. For the 2010 session, there was no selection process for the residents; everybody who heard about the project through our network or our website could participate and come to Charleroi. In the next sessions other selection methods will be experienced, preferably with a new concept each time. In summer 2010 every resident in Charleroi (about 15) realised at least one artistic project. The two next sessions should be organized in collaboration with the contemporary art center in Charleroi (BPS22). Hotel Charleroi will invite 15 artists / theoreticians / curators to Charleroi for 2 weeks of research and discussions. After this period, the group will propose some artistic and theoretical projects to be realized during this session, for which we will search founding together with BPS22.
The actual challenge resides in the fact that Charleroi is a city without high-education structures, and although there are subventioned cultural institutions, there is no real public for culture. The artistic projects that we will propose should therefore first create an appropriate context around them, which allows a real dialog with the city. Chantal Mouffe will also take part to the discussions and should play an important role in the project. She was actually born in Charleroi and is probably known all over the world except there!