BL!NDMAN Akenkaai 2, B-1000 Brussels +32 (0)2 201 59 47


According to Wikipedia, a blisk “is a single engine component consisting of a rotor disk and blades, which may be either integrally cast, machined from a solid piece of material, or made by welding individual blades to the rotor disk”.

BL!SK also refers to a collaboration between BL!NDMAN, Hisk and Workspace Brussels

Each year, HISK selects 12 artists that are offered a 2-years residency. By introducing the young artists to contemporary music, the artistic directions of HISK and BL!NDMAN would like to stimulate the dialogue between different disciplines of art. The four composers in residence at BL!NDMAN are being asked to create a new piece with an artist of HISK. During the process of creating, the team is coached by Oscar Van den Boogaard and Eric Sleichim

Apart from this, there is also a collaboration with Workspace Brussels that if offering residencies to young dancers, performers and theater-makers. These young artist also can work together with musicians and composers of BL!NDMAN.


lauren redhead + rebecca armstrong
jesse broekman + daniel rödiger
miguel farias + federico acal
yu oda + odilon pain


Lauren about the first BL!SK-encounter:

Last weekend I was in Gent to begin working on a project with BL!NDMAN ensemble. Well, I say weekend but in fact the crazy turn my life has taken of late meant that I spent just over 24 hours in Belgium. At the end of a very long week, working over a number of different sites (in different cities), waking up at 5am to drag myself across London on the tube (which, particularly on weekends, can hardly be considered a form of transport at all given that it doesn’t seem to go anywhere) filled me somewhat with dread. It’s also fair to say that at the end of 3 weeks travelling almost continually between different universities, teaching and performing, I felt not at all like a composer or musicologist. The purpose of this paragraph is to induce in the reader the sense of fatigue, despair, and loss of identity that can be experienced at 6am whilst sitting on a broken down tube train and wondering if this will cause you to miss a further 4 trains, or if you will even stay awake to find out. And, of course, to contrast this feeling with the events that followed.

In exactly this respect this event was exactly what I needed. Having eventually arrived in Gent, after a mere 3 transport incidents, the afternoon was spent giving and listening to presentations at HISK (The Higher Institute for Fine Art). HISK is a place which was described by its artistic director as a “post-academinc institution”; this intrigued me greatly. HISK’s artistic residents are given a studio for 2 years, attend talks and artistic discussion, and pursue their own projects and develop their practice during their residency. As a place it feels open, creative, and interesting.

The presentations began with composer Eric Sleichim, the founder and director of BL!NDMAN, presenting the ensemble and the work that they do. In particular he outlined many of his own works and arrangements which are often challenging, political, and theatrical, and draw on other artforms and literature, as well as involving collaboration with other artists. In this respect, Eric’s work is extremely interesting and stimulating for me: I find him convicted in the work that he does, and the end products convincing. Eric spoke about many issues which I think are extremely close to my interests as a composer and, contrary to themes which have been coming out in my musicological work, I feel that there is an immediacy and depart from institutionalisation in his work which is extremely important in the musical experience of them.

Following this we composers (there are 4 of us: me, Jesse Broekman, Yu Oda, and Miguel Farias) presented our work to the assembled artists. Although I frequently give presentations in my job I was slightly nervous about this as I wondered what kind of information the artists would like to hear about me and whether and how well we would understand each other. I decided to focus on the collaborative work that I have done in the past, to outline the kinds of projects I have done with other artists, and when and how I have collaborated with other composers. I also tried to outline my research interests, and hoped that I had come across clearly enough. It was also really great for me to see and hear the work presented by the other composers, to see similarities and differences in our approaches, and to imagine that being a composer can be an activity which involves a community of practitioners rather than being simply a solitary activity.

The artists at HISK, despite having only recently arrived, equally seem like a community. They have the possibility of shutting themselves away but seem instead to be searching for opportunities to engage with others. In total, 12 artists presented their work and work in progress to us. I found these presentations exciting and stimulating: we saw work involving sculpture, painting, photography, text, and many combinations, and I found in all of the presentations interesting things on show or being said. I was stuck by the differences in approach between the artists and composers, and considered that although those working in the arts often think that their knowledge and practice might be applicable in other disciplines it is rarely as simple as that. Most interesting for me was that many of the artists were prepared to admit issues with their media or practices, to state that their work was investigative and had not reached a kind of perfection, and were aware of public/private distinctions in their work but not necessarily bothered by these (e.g. not thinking that everything must be public). To me these are issues often overlooked in contemporary music, it’s extremely rare to hear a composer say, ‘this isn’t working but I’m trying it anyway.’

For me this was a day of many positive outcomes: I left the discussions at HISK feeling extremely inspired, and if not with the details of new work in mind, then with the desire to investigate and create new work. I am very much looking forward to what I hope will be fruitful collaborations, both in terms of what might get produced, and also in terms of development of my own artistic practice and opportunity to reflect. This event reminded me of what I’m supposed to be doing as a composer and as a creative artist: that the problems I see within contemporary music practice and a body of music which seems increasingly stagnant can be addressed by critical analysis (as in my musicological practice) but also must be addressed by the creation of new work, which may choose not to deal with the corpse of modernism as it is displayed in western Europe at all. That is certainly not what the artists at HISK were doing; they are choosing most often through self-reflexive praxis to create, without an emphasis on ‘newness’, art which makes sense of the issues around them. This gives me a lot to think about.

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BL!NDMAN       contact info

Gallaitstraat 76-78
1030 Schaarbeek, Belgium

general and artistic direction:
management:   M +32 473 29 98 91
production and communication:   M +32 473 71 50 70
technical production:

BL!NDMAN is supported by the Arts Administration of the Ministry of the Flemish Community and the Flemish Community Commission of the Brussels-Capital Region. BL!NDMAN [sax] play Selmer Paris Saxophones.