It is with immense sadness that we learnt that Frie Leysen passed away today. The significance of Frie Leysen for the artistic sector, as for Kunstenfestivaldesarts, cannot be expressed in words. She has changed the cultural sector and has been an inspiring figure for colleagues, and for a next generation. It's easy to say that the world of theater wouldn't be the same today without her contribution, and it will not be the same without her.
Frie taught the value of risk: artworks must not simply be liked, or be compliant; but rather they must take risks, undermine securities, and sometimes make us feel uncomfortable in front of them. In doing this, she did not let herself be put on the defensive, but she defended the artists with passion. A gentle giant who did not mince words and dared to say what it is to be said.
Frie has developed and taught how to look at international creation, eschewing the risk of the exotic, and always respecting the singularity of the artist. She looked at artists as antennas, helping us to navigate the complexity of the world: "I want to see the world through the eyes of a hundred other people, and maybe I will understand something about it"
Frie believed in the political potentiality of artistic creation and institutions in bringing people together. She imagined the unimaginable and created Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 1994, bringing together the French-speaking and the Flemish sector in an international festival in Brussels. She became an example to us all, at home and abroad, by making the impossible possible, with her boundless energy, vitality and sharp presence.
Frie described herself as a hyphen: between artists who have the urgency to share their vision and an audience; a hyphen between artistic and geographical contexts; a hyphen within a city; a hyphen bringing people together. The metaphor she used reveals the humbleness of her spirit; but it also reveals the necessity of her presence. Frie, you will be missed.
Sophie Alexandre, Daniel Blanga Gubbay & Dries Douibi
Brussels, 22 september 2020