L’Agence Saint-Gilloise {Brussels, 2022}

L’Agence Saint-Gilloise was a project developed by Laboratorio Popolare (Priscilla Suarez Bock and myself) in response to the Open Call for a participatory project in public space (Kunst in co-creatie) launched by Pianofabriek in 2022, and which encouraged applicants to address the ‘growing polarisation’ in Saint-Gilles (Belgium).

As a way of understanding the complexity of the multiple narratives co-existing in the municipality, Popolare set up an ‘agency for community intra-tourism’, a speculative institution aimed at uncovering and visibilising initiatives, projects and tales of Saint-Gilles that challenged the ‘dual perspective’ of polarisation. To this end, they (1) met with different actors that allowed them to collect and map the stories; (2) published the Gazette Saint-Gilloise, a wall-journal aimed at visibilising various initiatives from the municipality; (3) hosted two co-creation sessions with various relevant actors, wherein they defined and designed together a narrative route; and (4) organised a narrative and collective walking tour entitled Flux Saint-Gilloise.

The walking tour took place on the 21st of January of 2023, followed a route of 5 km around the municipality and included 11 ‘stops’ where different actors (who acted as ‘tour guides’) were invited to share their insights and/or experiences in relation to a place. In making a collective appropriation of (public) space, the tour was an act of walking from hangout to hangout, but it was also one of streetwalker theorising, insofar as the knowledges and experiences of different people were given an equal value and were situated in a specific place and time.

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