Works: Paula Almiron & Wouter De Raeve

Modem Studio

Swamp Sacrifices

An immersion in the cracks, the non-productivity, and transcendence of the geological base of Brussels

Since 2021, Paula Almiron and Wouter De Raeve have been working in the Northern Quarter in Brussels on the choreographic research project I Build My Language With Rocks; a critical reading of top-down movements (large-scale urban plans), with a focus on the local movements in the neighbourhood. The notion of the swamp – one of the first forms of life buried under the asphalt in order for the city to be written – functions as a dramaturgical guidance throughout the project. Swamp Sacrifices emerges from this ongoing research and invites other practitioners to think along with them.

Swamp Sacrifices addresses the swamp and the water of the Zenne Valley. Historically, the swamp has been a place of non-productivity and, as such, a space for transcendence and spirituality. In Brussels, as in many other parts of Northern Europe, the swamp was a place of sacrifice, where people made offerings to gods, superior beings, and other worlds. But as the city evolved, the swamp has been forced to become a zone of productivity, inscribed in a capitalist thinking that reduces both life and death to a commodity. 

Today the Northern Quarter of Brussels is undergoing a process of intense transformation. The many construction sites in the neighbourhood are zones where the past and the future meet. These ‘holes in the ground’ could be seen as zones where the swamp emerges; whether we want it or not, the water and its complexity find their way through the cracks of our contemporary society. What are we to do with its presence? Are we going to ignore the swamp once more? What about getting into its waters? 

Over the course of one weekend, Swamp Sacrifices practises ways of getting closer to the swamp as a space of non-productivity and as a zone where the affective quality of the sacred can emerge. Far from proposing a single homogeneous ritual, the programme is rather an attempt to experience the sacrifice as a body, trying to relate to its different organs and phases as an entity in a continuous process. Taking place in the valley of the river Zenne at M33 and KANAL-Centre Pompidou, and uphill at radical_house, the programme is composed of workshops, a concert, and presentations. Swamp Sacrifices is an interruption of a system that considers the swamp as an ‘annoying’ body that needs to be made invisible. What happens if we approach the swamp as a non-productive and transcendental ecology?



KANAL-Centre Pompidou 

Find further information about the locations below.


Swamp Sacrifices
An immersion in the cracks, the non-productivity, and transcendence of the geological base of Brussels

23 February uphill at radical_house 
24 February down in the valley at M33 and Kanal-Centre Pompidou

Friday, 23 February: UPHILL

Location: radical_house

  • 7:30 pm: Unproductive Will – up on the hill  – FULL!

A performance-workshop by Jimena Pérez Salerno (Dur: 1h15 +/-)

Unproductive Will is a body-implicated research that suggests revisiting our relationship with the hegemonic notion of linear time and productive behaviour, considering them as collective colonial wounds that inform the paths we tread. In a playful way, a score will be shared for a ‘never-ending’ warm-up that seeks to create an experience of political awareness. 

For Swamp Sacrifices, two versions of this performance-workshop, presented uphill at radical_house on Friday the 23rd and in the valley at M33 on Saturday the 24th, will follow what these spaces whisper to us during the encounter. 

This performance-workshop is FULL.

Practical info about radical_house: Jimena’s presentation will take place on the ground floor, which is accessible for wheelchair users with assistance provided by the team of Swamp Sacrifices.

Saturday, 24 February: IN THE VALLEY

Location: M33

  • 2 pm: Le Pacte – WAITING LIST!

An invitation by Azahara Ubera Biedma & Résidence Masui (Dur: 40 min +/-)

Le Pacte is a workshop performance for a collective ritual of care through the touch of hands. Azahara has been working with a group of elders from Résidence Masui in the Northern Quarter of Brussels. Le Pacte is a ritual for a one-to-one connection between humans and the materials of the swamp. It addresses the role of mediators, those who have the ability to speak with other worlds.

This performance-workshop has a limited audience capacity. All spots are gone for now, but you can register for the waiting list via this link.

  • 4 pm: Unproductive Will – down in the valley

A performance-workshop by Jimena Pérez Salerno (Dur: 1h15 +/-)

Unproductive Will is a body-implicated research that suggests revisiting our relationship with the hegemonic notion of linear time and productive behaviour, considering them as collective colonial wounds that inform the paths we tread. In a playful way, a score will be shared for a ‘never-ending’ warm-up that seeks to create an experience of political awareness. 

For Swamp Sacrifices, two versions of this performance-workshop, presented uphill at radical_house on Friday the 23rd and in the valley at M33 on Saturday the 24th, will follow what these spaces whisper to us during the encounter.  

This performance-workshop has a limited audience capacity. Registration is required via this link. You can find the address via the same link.

Practical info about M33: M33 is partly accessible for wheelchair users (the space is located on the ground floor and has a ramp at the door, but the toilet is not wheelchair accessible).


Location: KANAL-Centre Pompidou. Entrance of the construction site of KANAL on Quai des Péniches, next to the canal – For all contributions taking place at KANAL-Centre Pompidou (construction site + K1), please register for free via this link.

  • 6 pm: The Water Is Angry 

A concert initiated by Paula Almiron & Wouter De Raeve and created with and by Groupe GAM, with a song by Loucka Fiagan and performancy by Désirée 0100, Chorale Equinox de la Maison d’enfants Reine Marie-Henriette, and Hoda Siahtiri & Bear Bones, Lay Low (Dur: 35 min +/-)

Paula and Wouter invite several musicians to create a concert based on the resistance song ‘Quartier Nord’ from the 1970s. This song was composed by the Groupe d’Action Musicale (GAM) together with inhabitants of the Northern Quarter, as a way to protest against the top-down planning of the Manhattan Plan and the resulting expropriations. They performed ‘Quartier Nord’ during demonstrations at construction sites in the Northern Quarter.

Ever since, the neighbourhood has been an ongoing construction site. Today, the song brings us together once again; on the immense site of KANAL-Centre Pompidou. 

Singing to the swamp that is emerging temporarily, the song resonates with different types of grief, resilience, and dreams of the city. How will this art institution influence the neighbourhood? And how does it relate to the water on which it is constructed?

Practical info about KANAL: The concert will take place at the entrance of KANAL’s construction site, which is situated on the Quai des Péniches, next to the canal. From Sainctelette Square, walk 80 metres along the canal heading north. 

In case of bad weather, The Water Is Angry will take place at K1. 


Location: K1, Temporary venue of KANAL-Centre Pompidou (crossing the canal. Av. du Port 1, 1000 Brussels) – For all contributions taking place at KANAL-Centre Pompidou (construction site + K1), please register for free via this link.

At K1, De Harmonie provides delicious soup with bread. Cash only.

  • 7–8 pm: The Water We Care For

A video projection of Water No Get Enemy: Counter-Cartographies of Diaspora by Remi Kuforiji (dur.: 11 min.) followed by a conversation with architect André Verstraeten and Natural Contract Lab, moderated by Guy Gypens.

A museum that calls itself KANAL must have some relation to water. The name KANAL refers to and is built on the banks of the Brussels canal. But there is more. KANAL is also partly enclosed by the covered Zenne. As such the museum is surrounded by water and is being constructed in one of the most marshy stretches of the Zenne Valley. How does this come about? André Verstraeten, architect at KANAL, will explain its technical side.

During the conversation, the challenges and consequences of building on a swampy soil are addressed. Are affective ways of relating to bodies of water part of such a process? Is the swamp’s voice taken into account?  In conversation with Natural Contract Lab, these questions will be addressed from the point of view of their practice.

The conversation is initiated by a screening of Water No Get Enemy: Counter-Cartographies of Diaspora by Remi Kuforiji, which aims to develop a model of resistance to neocolonial practices of crude oil extraction and ecocide in the Niger Delta. By learning from indigenous epistemologies archived in Nigerian masquerade, the project proposes a new masquerade: a method of cartography that critiques harmful extractive practices by bringing multiple diasporic sites into dialogue through performance.

  • 8–9 pm: Spatial Therapy

A project by Wouter De Raeve, performed by Stine Sampers and Martha Balthazar
What are the traumas, fears, and ambitions of a space? And what are those of the spatial practitioner? Do they match? Is there something to work on? Or should they go their separate ways?

During Spatial Therapy, a patient and a therapist discuss the patient’s relation to the swamp and the valley of the Zenne River.

Recently, Wouter has been creating a context for therapeutic spatial sessions with spatial practitioners in Brussels. As part of his search for how to share this process of transformation with others, Spatial Therapy is one of a series of public try-outs with an audience.

  • 9–10 pm: [Sunkboac]

A proposal by Simon Asencio
[Sægbouc] is a research dedicated to sang narratives. [Sængbõk] manifests as a collection of songs of circumstance shared in the form of a collective karaoke.

Practical info about K1: K1 is partly accessible for wheelchair users. The toilets and the first floor are only accessible by stairs.



radical_house – radical_house is a long-term project exploring notions of ownership, privilege, privacy and the question of how ‘just another house’ can become a relational tool. It shelters people in need and offers residency-time to artists – bridging the educational field with the artistic one, and creating frames for collective research. radical_house is hosting part of the Swamp Sacrifice programme in exchange for being hosted by M33 with the project ‘Disclosing Practices … through books’.

The physical building of radical_house was initially constructed in 1896, up the hill in Ixelles, by architect Henri Van Massenhove, who is known for his introduction of the Twin-Facade (today’s Reihenhaus), proposing with it a tool for homogenisation. In the years 2016–2019, the house underwent a transformation, with architect Tania Gijsenberg, who turned it into a place for ‘more than family’.

radical_house is currently co-curated by Simone Basani, Alice Ciresola and Heike Langsdorf.


KANAL-Centre Pompidou – The Brussels-Capital Region and the KANAL Foundation initiated the creation of a new interdisciplinary cultural centre, ‘KANAL-Centre Pompidou’, in the former Citroën garage on the Place de l’Yser in Brussels. KANAL-Centre Pompidou will become the largest cultural institution in Brussels, with more than 40,000 m² dedicated to artistic creation in all its forms. The museum is built on the banks of the Brussels canal and is also partly enclosed by the covered river Zenne. 

M33 – M33 is a space in the Northern Quarter of Brussels, located on the ground floor of the Harmonie building, which was constructed for people whose homes in the neighbourhood were expropriated in the ’70s. At that time, the space was hosting gatherings of neighbours who were organising themselves in light of the precarious housing conditions and top-down transformation of the neighbourhood. After it had been empty for fourteen years, Paula and Wouter opened M33 as part of their project ‘I Build My Language With Rocks’. Since then, it has served as a space devoted to hosting and supporting local movements in the neighbourhood. The building, like many other housing units in the area, has severe humidity problems. 


Paula Almiron – Paula Almiron is an Argentinian choreographer and dancer based in Brussels. Her practice unfolds at the intersection of choreography, fictional writing, and geology, focusing mostly on the diverse ways in which the social, the spiritual, and the geological worlds shape each other.

Simon Asencio – Simon Asencio works with performance settings that question the notions of liveness, stage, and audience. His current body of work, Quire Whids, addresses forms of obscurity in and through text, at the intersection between performance, literature studies, and critical pedagogy.

Bear Bones, Lay Low  – Shortly after leaving Venezuela to settle in Belgium, Ernesto González started creating psychedelic electronic sounds under the BBLL moniker and has since been performing and releasing music in Europe and abroad. Dissonant abstractions, high-energy rhythmical workouts, bizarre melodic reveries, and minimalist/maximalist drone practices all form part of the musical language that BBLL has been developing for well over a decade.

Chorale Equinox de la Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette – Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette is located in the Northern Quarter of Brussels and hosts around two hundred children per year. For this concert, the children of the Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette are joined by other children from the neighbourhood. 

Wouter De Raeve – Wouter De Raeve is a Belgian artist based in Brussels. He has a background in landscape architecture and visual arts. He focuses on researching the role of the spatial practitioner within the force field of the parties involved in spatial development processes. For each project he develops a specific methodology. This results in publications, spatial installations, curatorial projects, drawings, and films.

Loucka Fiagan – Loucka Elie Fiagan’s practice is located at the intersection of poetry, dance, music, and video. Loucka holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Université Saint-Louis and a master’s from the Royal Academy of Bozarts. Under the name of SVDU, Loucka composes and performs abstract hip-hop music, a branch of rap which is strongly influenced by spoken word lyricism. 

Guy Gypens – Guy Gypens is currently head of Live Arts at KANAL-Centre Pompidou in Brussels. He was the administrator at the Beursschouwburg in Brussels from 1987 to 1991. From 1991 until 2007 he was Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her dance company Rosas’s general manager. Simultaneously, he worked for some years as manager for theatre company tg STAN’s and contemporary music ensemble Ictus. From 1996 to 2000 he also directed the Springdance Festival in Utrecht. From 2007 to 2019 he was the general and artistic director of the Kaaitheater arts centre in Brussels.

Groupe GAM (Groupe d’Action Musicale) – At the crossroads of folk and ‘chanson à texte’, the group GAM accompanied dozens of social and ecological struggles in Belgium and abroad – in the 1970s and 1980s – at demonstrations, at the gates of factories on strike, and at militant meetings.

Remi Kuforiji – Remi Kuforiji is a spatial practitioner and interdisciplinary researcher whose creative practice explores the intersection of cartography, racial politics, and coloniality. Developing systems of critique that challenge territorial distinctions and neocolonial policies of resource extractivism, the artist’s work focuses on wetland ecosystems, foregrounding Indigenous knowledge and ethnographic methodologies as modes of spatial practice.

Natural Contract Lab – Natural Contract Lab is a transdisciplinary artistic practice that aims at creating an active and sustained dialogue with bodies of water under deep ecological transformation. The artistic interventions are hybrid and unfold differently in respect to each river as dialogue, a collaboration with, and a gesture of care. With the aim of fabulating new forms of justice, Natural Contract Lab has co-created an artistic Protocol of Reciprocal Care weaving the practices of restorative justice, rights of rivers, environmental grief, sensory ecoscenography and water ancestry. Natural Contract Lab was founded in 2021 by Maria Lucia Cruz Correia.

Jimena Pérez Salerno – Jimena Pérez Salerno is an Argentinian artist based in Brussels and recently graduated from a.pass (advanced performance and scenography studies). She considers choreographic practice as a system of relations that enables modes of imagination, attention, and coexistence. Her work leans towards performative practices that contemplate the activation of an unexpected context to think together through the experience of an implicated body. 

Résidence Masui – Résidence Masui is a nursing home located in the Northern Quarter. The residence accommodates up to fifty-five people and welcomes both persons who can be independent and people requiring care appropriate to their situation, regardless of their ideological, philosophical, or religious convictions. 

Hoda Siahtiri – Hoda Siahtiri is an audiovisual and performance artist-researcher based in Brussels. She defines herself as a ‘diseuse’, who narrates and mediates voices that have been silenced in the past. Siatiri’s work centres around grief, embodied memory, and ancestral vocal heritage. She conducts a PhD research programme at the University of Antwerp on the singing tradition of Bakhtiari women in the west of Iran.

Azahara Ubera Biedma – Azahara Ubera Biedma is a dance artist, choreographer, and independent researcher based in Brussels. Azahara’s work relates with care and otherness; it’s about creating collective experiences in hybrid spaces. Azahara activates care through different protocols and games – and dances for plants.

André Verstraeten – André Verstraeten is an architect who graduated from ENSAAV–La Cambre in 1981. Since 2011, he has been working for the Brussels Region on the development of public architectural projects. Since 2015, André has been in charge of the Kanal project – Transformation of the former Citroën Yser garage into a museum of modern and contemporary art.


Curation: Paula Almiron & Wouter De Raeve In collaboration with: KANAL-Centre Pompidou & radical_house Contributions by: Paula Almiron Simon Asencio, Bear Bones, Lay Low, Chorale Equinox de la Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette, Wouter De Raeve, Loucka Fiagan, Désirée 0100, Guy Gypens, Groupe d’Action Musicale, Remi Kuforiji, Natural Contract Lab, Jimena Pérez Salerno, Résidence Masui, Hoda Siahtiri, Azahara Ubera Biedma, André Verstraeten  Production: Hiros Production on site at M33: Olga Rutayisire Co-production: KANAL-Centre Pompidou Graphic Design: Modem Studio Copy editing: Simon Cowper With support from: VGC Special thanks to: Simon Asencio, Lietje Bauwens, CIFAS, Wim Cuyvers, Guy Gypens, Flore Herman, Katrien Reist