Travel journals delivered by designers based in Taiwan
A city that embraces everything wholeheartedly.
If you ask me, "what's the very first Europe City that you fell for," I'll answer without a second thought:
Traveling alone to Belgium, I was just about to experience authentic life. Took one of my friends' advice, I decided to catch a train from Brussels to Antwerp. The moment of getting off at the Antwerp main station was surely a cultural astonishment. The station architecture has the charm brought by a magician called time, with gold words and decoration inserted. It is always until the moment like this that I start to regret my limited knowledge regarding architecture history. I could only appreciate the chance to be bathed in such culture enrichment. This was the very first time I felt embraced and welcomed by Europe.
Being a lazy designer, I only managed to check out some art galleries and museums online beforehand. On my way to some places, I tried my very best to be part of the city, that is basically pretend to be a local resident and feel it in a total different sense. This is also what I always recommend to my friends as a way of traveling: Slow-paced strolling in the city, tasting the whole city, and enjoying being swollen by it as well.
I am constantly searching for similar cultural symbols during travel, for example, the encounter in Antwerp Zoo. It is full of Chinese symbols: the dragon, houses, and red lanterns. From our perspective, it surely is a little bit over the boundaries, which is because we can hardly connect this to Europe. The context itself is unreasonable. Giving it a second thought after, however, I am persuades by the idea that Chinese culture indeed is a part of Antwerp, which we can see clearly in the China Town at the city center. Perhaps the lantern decoration is a kind gesture of tolerance and integration?
Walking around the streets, I could easily be amazed by an opera house hidden in ancient architectures, or feel indecisive at the intersection towards a narrow alley. I would assume this happens when facing the unknown; then courage is always the answer to the doubt. For designers, this is the most charming part of this city, since we will then be challenged to become more sensitive and fear to try to embrace new experiences.
繞進通往MHKA的轉角，首先會被龐大的白色建築物上面往下看的假人嚇到，而不得不停留了幾分鐘，確認一下那是假人，然後再繼續往門口走去。原來那是呼應近期的James Lee Byars特展所做的宣傳。不用海報、不用傳單，而是用裝置先震懾住遊客，並讓這個印象一直停留在心裡。James Lee Byars的The Perfect Kiss展覽很令人驚艷，不只是展覽的內容豐富，以創作者的本位去策展更是讓觀者合理地吸收所有資訊。
Turning into the corner of MHKA, I was struck by the fake man standing at the edge of the enormous white building. I had to stumble for a few seconds, confirmed it was not a real human being, and then kept my path to the entrance. It turned out to be in correspondence with the temporary exhibition of James Lee Byars. Not a single poster or handout, MHKA successfully left impression on visitors. The exhibition, Perfect Kiss, is absolutely amazing, not just how fruitful the content is, but also the curators managed to curate with the perspective of James Lee Byars and have the information soaked by the audience just so naturally.
Apart from art museums, cafe is also a category I couldn't afford to miss. In a small coffee place like this, ordering a coffee casually with my body fully supported by piles of pillows, I got to categorize and feel the city once again. This city, which has its own irreplaceable personality, is gradually forming into something from the conflict and combination of both its old times and newcomers. Spacious public spaces and city landscape bring us continual surprises and the chance to plucking up courage. It seems like although my time here is short, I can easily see the sparkles between Antwerp and myself.