CBK Rotterdam

Center for Visual Arts Rotterdam

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Z-Files # 6: Breytenbach and Lucebert

Z-Files: 08 / 10 / 2014 - 09 / 10 / 2014
Location: WORM

In this special edition of the Z-Files Ernest van der Kwast talks to Breyten Breytenbach (writer and artist, South Africa) about Breytenbach's work. Van der Kwast discusses Lucebert's work with Kamagurka (ao writer and artist, Belgium). This one Z-Files is being organized as a result of the renovation of the murals of both Lucebert and Breytenbach (both in the Gaffelstraat in Rotterdam) and in collaboration with Poetry International Rotterdam.

For years now, two remarkable murals by Breyten Breytenbach and Lucebert have been adorned on Gaffelstraat in Rotterdam's Old West district.
In the wall painting of the South African poet and painter Breyten Breytenbach (Poetry International, 1992) art and politics come together. The work depicts a captive writer who longs for freedom. Next to the image is a list of names of writers who were imprisoned for their work. This painting has everything to do with the poetry festival Poetry International, which at the time awarded an annual prize to a poet who was held captive for his literary activities. His name was added to the ornament list and crossed out when he was released. Breyten Breytenbach received the prize in 1981; a year later he was released after being imprisoned for seven years. Every prize winner received a work in public space at the time.

The painting of Lucebert - The story is so good that it is not over yet (1994) - has a line from his poem Timetable and gender table. Lucebert spoke in favor of freedom of expression, in particular that of writers. Lucebert and Breytenbach were close friends and got to know each other at the Poetry International Festival.

Art in the public space
Visual Arts & Public Space (BKOR) regularly provides the ornaments lists in the city with new works and restores the old classics. The works of Lucebert and van Breytenbach were recently restored. This was a direct reason for an edition of the program Z-Files, Art and the City devoted to both double talents: Lucebert and Breytenbach were both painter and poet. Poetry International and CBK Rotterdam invited Breyten Breytenbach for this occasion to come to Rotterdam. He will be the guest of honor on this special evening.

Platanus xhispanica / Tomb of the Unknown Poet
With: Breyten Breytenbach
Wednesday 8 October

"Every person is a hidden poet", with these words the poet Breyten Breytenbach christened the large, stately plane tree on the Westersingel as a monument for free thoughts during the Poetry International Festival in 1986. The tree was renamed 'Tomb of the Unknown Poet'. On 8 October 2014, almost 30 years later, Poetry International places a plaque next to the tree that gives the tree the status of an official monument.

The placement of the plaque is celebrated on 8 October at 17.00 o'clock in the presence of Breyten Breytenbach. Subsequently, there is a festive program in the Van Gennep bookstore on Oude Binnenweg.

During his imprisonment in South Africa (1975-1982), Breytenbach wrote a story in which he spoke about 'the grave of a poet'. A kind of meeting place where poets could undertake a 'pilgrimage' to 'meditate' there. Because, he thought, every person is a hidden poet. So somewhere in the world there must be a place where one can let his or her thoughts run free. After his release, the story of Breytenbach, in collaboration with the organization of Poetry International, was given a place on the Westersingel.


Z-Files, Art and the City is a series of programs from SIR and BKOR (both part of the CBK Rotterdam) in which art, public space and the city are discussed through lectures, presentations and excursions. The aim of the program is to bring attention to the special collection of artworks in the public space of Rotterdam and to highlight current developments in the city.

TENT is the platform for contemporary art in the context of Rotterdam with exhibitions, new productions, educational projects, performances and events with makers from the city and beyond.
To website TENT

Sculpture International Rotterdam manages Rotterdam's international sculpture collection, brings it to the attention and develops a metropolitan international art policy.
To the SIR website

Forest polder fox, Florentijn Hofman, Schiedamseweg, 2020. Photo: Otto Snoek

BKOR manages and renews the extensive city collection in collaboration with Rotterdam residents, companies and institutions. BKOR advises the municipality, citizens and artists on the realization, placement, relocation and remediation of public works of art.
To the BKOR website

Art Office mediates, informs and supports visual artists from Rotterdam with regard to their professional practice. For artists, institutions and individuals.
To the Art Office website