Asiat, Vilvoorde-North, Belgium
Horst sells itself as an art and music festival with a heavy weighting on the art. Unlike many festivals that claim to be art-focused, tucking a couple of half-baked installations in a back room somewhere, at Horst the artistry is impossible to miss, even if you arrive in the dead of night and head straight for the nearest dancefloor.
The main room at the festival’s new site in Vilvoorde-North, for example, is a cavernous concrete warehouse with two walls of wobbling plastic mirrors erected at right angles. Inside, multicoloured laser beams bounced and distorted throughout DJ sets from Copenhagen’s Mama Snake, Australian selector Lauren Hansom and a thrilling back to back from Orpheu the Wizard and John Talabot.
This year, to kickstart things at the Asiat location, Horst launched a series of creative labs that brought participants and coaches together to work on certain elements of art, design and music with a view to progressively developing the site as the years go on. In this sense, Horst is an ongoing project that seeks to develop not only the grounds where it takes place but also the arts scene in the surrounding area as well. The section we caught – the three-day music and arts festival – was essentially a celebration of broader projects, many of which had begun weeks before.
As you wandered around the site, you could see the results, whether it be panel discussions under the Tomas Dirrix designed Ceiling for a Crater stage, an art installation in one of the many warehouse spaces, or the Feathers stage, which was designed by Fala Atelier as part of the architecture lab. Here, red and blue strobe lights gave the impression you were living in a pair of 3D glasses, perfect for high energy sets from Nosedrip, Peach and Identified Patient.
Overall, Horst is an extremely accomplished operation. Wherever you looked at the new site there was some small detail that elevated the aesthetic and feel of the whole event. In a festival landscape oversaturated with barely thought through arts programming, Horst stands out as an event where music and art complement, rather than distract from, one another.