Is there alternative cultural life in Luxembourg?
By Gabrielle Antar
When I moved back to Luxembourg, I desperately needed a space to dance and bond with other alternative and creative folks. After all, social interaction was finally possible again. How odd that I would find exactly what I was looking for in a big house in Sandweiler, a typical Luxembourgish suburb. That is where I first stumbled upon Lagerkultur.
This collective for progressive club culture set up what they call “the mall”, a pop-up space that combines a dancing venue for electronic music with rooms to show the work of homegrown artists. The mall has now closed down, but Lagerkultur has started hosting events in other venues and is creating a name for itself in Luxembourg’s cultural scene.
Last month, I attended their “Super Maart” – a “market dedicated to urban lifestyles and local culture”, which they set up together with the Rotondes. Music accompanies you as you walk through the hallway, which is futuristic and factory-like at the same time. Such spaces, where you come to explore yourself were hardly available during the lockdown, when it also became much harder to support home-based talent. But now I was reminded of the importance of the contribution young people make to culture in Luxembourg. Creators in fashion, photography, collage prints and pottery all displayed their unique vision.
Milo Hatfield, a photographer, showed his images of the many Lagerkultur club nights. These were not just random photographs from a party. Capturing small moments of having fun was also an effort to show a scene that was sidelined during the pandemic, on finding your community and letting go of the expectations consuming young people. We are taught to work hard and be productive. Moving to the sound of techno can be an act of resistance.
Later on, ceramic sculptress Mara Elise showed me her pottery, including mugs, ashtrays, and bowls that incorporate sculpted curves of a pair of breasts or a vulva. The portrayal of these taboo body parts argues for a different representation of women, one not rooted in sexism. Women in art typically are the object of male desire and Elise’s sculptures distort that approach by showing the female body without shame. Women often do not find it easy to start conversations about the power structures of gender inequality, but these works of art can create more authentic and empowering representations of themselves.
Finally, a print at the beginning of the exhibition hall caught my interest. Charl Vinz was the artist behind what looked like a piece of Chinese communist propaganda, depicting the last old building standing at the Hamilius square every Luxembourg citizen knows. Once a tranquil public space, Hamilius is now a busy thoroughfare flanked by the anonymous headquarters of banks – a few of them from China - and other temples of consumption. A man is seen hammering texts about social justice into the rocky soil. While this print criticized putting profit over community, others depicting landscapes drowning in water, underscoring the urgency of fighting against the rapidly aggravating climate crisis. One was a nightmare in bright colors, a factory drowning in water surrounded by the words “croire” and “decroitre”- to believe and to shrink, but which could also be read as to grow and to shrink. A clear message that all of us will all someday witness destruction - unless we act now.
Interacting with these different forms of art opens a new prospect for Luxembourg’s cultural scene, which is increasingly getting the appreciation it deserves. Lagerkultur takes you a step further into a future in which people freely take part in a conversation about how society can cope with the enormous challenges it faces. The collective enables fresh young voices to create a progressive scene that hosts local art - at the forefront of Luxembourg society.