Ithaka started in 1993 as a one-day-exhibition. Since then it transformed into a full-grown project. Originally the exhibition was spread around Leuven. From 2003 onwards the festival was held on one – abandoned – location.
Each edition of the arts festival ithaka has it’s own accent, it’s own character because of the different locations which were used. Ithaka offers its visitors something new every year. In a small outline we try to give you a synopsis of what Ithaka was.
During the first edition of Ithaka, the Kultuurraad (cultural council) wanted to provoke a confrontation between the art & the spectator. It consisted of a one-day route passing different locations in the centre of Leuven. There was a mix of already known & renowned artists and young & upcoming talents. Some of them realised a complete installation specifically for the festival, others exhibited existing works.
The first edition of Ithaka passed by Stuk (the former and the current location), auditorium Maria Theresia, auditorium Michotte, the Pauscollege, Alma 2, the Institute of Philosophy & the faculty of Psychology.
with Walter Daems, Lut Lenoir, Anne Heyman, Dieter Machielsen, Hilde Overbergh, Marcel Rademakers, Jonas wille, Ann Dieltjens, Gorik Lindemans, Jo huybrechts, Jean De Coster, Patrick Van Isacker, Patrick Vandewijer & Jean-Marc Navez.
1994 Ithaka 2
While the first edition of Ithaka focussed on contemporary art in general, this year a specific discipline was chosen: music. Ithaka lasted two days, enabling the public to enjoy the entire parcours. The exhibition had a lot to offer. Professional and amateur artists would exhibit projects that explored all branches of contemporary art and each contained a musical element. The resulting combinations, such as speaking dance, music theatre & sound sculptures, were supposed to surprise, challenge and seduce: it was a true odyssey.
The starting point for the second edition of Ithaka was the former stuk and also passed by the Vlamingenstraat, the Arenberg Institute, the Van Dalecollege, the Maria Theresiacollege, the faculty of Law, Café Commerce, the Central Library, Shrink (a garage), the Institute of Psychology, the Institute of Philosophy & Kadoc.
with Leporello, Le Pays des Phônes, muziek lod, Alexandra Cool, David Hernandez, N.V.n.v., Juho Saarinen, Ivan Popovic, Luc Brewaeys, Reinhardt De Grendel, Dirk De Hooghe, Eric Feremans, Dieter Machielsen, Martin Arnold, Walter Verdin, Rudi Bogaerts, Inez Michiels, Margot & Greetje, Dirk Wauters, Bart Vandenbossche, Luc Rombouts, Geert Huybens, Pat Bruggemans, Frederik De Gryse, Pascal Vandelanoitte, Arno Kerkhofs, Hafina Benazzouz, Koen Cuypers, Anoniem, muziekstoeterij Fanfaron, Tom Antheunis & Frank Roelandt, Jan Paul Thiecke & Bart Borremans & Tom Hannes.
1995 Ithaka 3 – Murmuur
This third edition was a bit different from the first two, because it focused on the old city wall. The wall was used as a guideline throughout the exhibition & as frame for the concept of murmuur. The project opened doors to the beautiful, unknown & often inaccessible places along the medieval walls.
with Peter Jacquemeyn, Beatrijs Lauwaert, Joe Cillen, Bert De Keyzer, Jim Oosterlinck, Liliane Vertessen, Wladimir Mozsowski, Leen Lybeer, Philippe Tonnard, Erik Nerinckx, Olaf Mooij, Peter Van Eyck, Johan Van Roy, Frank Thoussaint, Ingrid Castelein, Suzy De Laet, Lex Wegchelaar & Koen Deprez.
1996 Ithaka 366
The fourth edition of Ithaka was organised by fifteen KU Leuven students on February 29th in the leap year 1996. It was a one-day exhibition throughout the city centre of Leuven. 23 artists were selected, who presented their artwork on locations along a track that was outlined in advance. The title, Ithaka 366, was chosen because of the number of days in a leap year.
with Joris Cerstiaens & Kurt De Wit, Alban Toulemonde, Keving Livingstone, Anthony Jonckheere, Mathieu Boxho, Ginkgo Biloba, Hans op de Beeck & Joost De Bock, Kris Maes, Fabian Luyten, Martha Morgan, Beatrice Coppieters, Stefaan Dheerdene, Jose Michel Rodriguez, Saar De Buysere, Jean-Marc Sibille, Frederic Derycke, Claudia Radelescu, Elisabeth Thise, Kurt Wolfs, Dirk Serlippens, Marleen Spiessens, Stani Machiels, Stefaan Hoblou, Nico Dockx, Stephan Balleux, Koen Philips, Frederic Derycke, Peter Leysen & Johan De Pauw.
1997 Ithaka 5 – Excité
Ithaka excité was another one-day art route. The exhibition was built around the architectural idea of network. Ithaka moved from the city center towards the outer edges of the city, more specifically the Vaartkom. 28 artists were based in an ex-brewery, an ex-bottling plant, an ex-silo, an ex-quay & a social housing neighbourhood.
with Sanne Van Rijn, Koen Boyden, Christophe Terlinden & Sybille De Rycke, Klaas Bullynck, Stefaan Dheedene, Bart Van Audenhove, Hilde Fauconnier, Koen Stuyven, Silke Panknin, Marleen Eyckerman, Dirk Serlippens, Christophe Haesevoets, Fabian Luyten, Griet Dobbels, Soetkin Eloy, Kurt Wolfs, Janneke Pepers, Collin Hotermans, Christophe Lepot, Koen De Decker, Dimitri Cools, Ludgard Catteeuw, Joe Cillen, Kristel Peeters, Alex Ivanov, Stefaan Quix & Ivan Maes.
1998 Ithaka 6 – Retour
The 6th edition of Ithaka focused on the forgotten neighbourhood Sint-Maartensdal. The purpose of the exhibition was to actively involve neighbours. They had the chance to contribute a piece of art that would be displayed during the festival next to work by other artists. This way, not only the property of the inhabitants was used, but they also got something in exchange. Ithaka retour received positive responses from both neighbours and visitors.
with Hilke Broodtaerts, Jurgen Gregoir, Dimitri Dumortier, Caroline Cereghetti, Ward Hermans, Angelo Vermeulen, Kris Maes, Dimitri Cools, Marleen Eyckerman, Bert Danckaert, Anja Van Eetveldt, Gauthier Pierson, Koen Meyers & Peter Boelens, Steven Van Overmeiren, Jan Pillaert & Erwin Borghlevens.
1999 Ithaka, your guide to in vitro sightseeing
This edition of Ithaka was a special one, as it took place in two shopping malls: Leuven Shopping Center & Super City. Ithaka was placed into the economic heart of Leuven. This decision attracted a new kind of public: shoppers became visitors of a contemporary art exhibition without knowing it. This way the elite character that is associated with art was downsized. It also forced the artists to question both themselves & their work.
with B.A.C.I.E.P., Koen Boyden, Delphine Brunelle, Saar De Buysere, Wouter Decorte, Ward Hermans & Kristof Tsjoen, Steven De Staerke & Frank Gunthörel, Sofie Haesaerts, Koen Philips, Leen Vandierendonck, Koen De Gezelle, Maarten Hofman, Collin Hotermans, Pascle Muret, Reiko Takizawa, Filip Van Dingenen.
2000 Ithaka vwa Püblik
This edition probably had one of the most exceptional locations in Ithaka history: the surroundings of the train station in Leuven. Especially in 2000 this was interesting, because of the renovations to the station. The artists had the opportunity to exhibit their work and use some of the building for the first or the last time. The central idea of Ithaka vwa püblik was mobility. The anonymous commuters got the chance to escape from their daily routine and admire some contemporary art.
with Emilie Lecouturier & Céline Poncelet, Gerben Van Der Woude, Jennifer Kanary, Jonathan Jacquemyn, Laurent Thiry, Katelijne De Corte, Marc Vanderslagmolen, Larissa Pietrala, Jan Vandromme, Gijs Peeters & Tom De Fraine, Virginie Bailly, Karen Vandenberghe, Marike Pons, Neeltje De Naris, Francis De Hoef & Kenny Cupers, Peter Denayer, Frédéric Fourdinier, Viola Vandomme, Maurice Bogaert, Sebastien Scuvée & Koen De Gezelle (Cloudy).
2001 Ithaka 9 – Ménage à trois
The 9th edition of Ithaka was an extra long celebration, with the relationship between the city and university as its central theme. 15 artists presented their works between the University Hall & the Central Library. The exhibition was three days long, which resulted in a large and varied crowd.
with Elina Kellermann, Mirjam Van Tilburg, Kris Vleeschouwer, Erki De Vries, Philipp Noller, Zusi Rongen, Koen Philips, Yves Callaert, Bram Dujardin, Carlo Van Poucke, Charles-Antoine Lejeune, Johan Dumont, Tim Dickel, Helena Pinket & Jan Vandromme.
2002 Ithaka 10 – It’s only water but hey, what a view!
For its 10th edition, Ithaka went to the Molens van Orshoven, in the Vaartkom. There was no central theme, since the organisers focused on the interaction between art and location. A new concept was introduced: artists that had never met before were paired to work together, as a kind of blind date for exhibitions.
with Kira Seiden & Bram Bresseleers, Erik De Vries, Yves Callaert, Jonas Drieghe & Lander Thys, Ilke De Vries, Gert Vervoort & Luc Compernol, Ruud Vercammen, Leen Hermans, Mieke Cappaert, Sandra Giuria & Bruno Collet, Kaat Pype, Emma Sidgwick & Jonas Vereecke.
2003 Ithaka 11 – Voy(ag)eur
Ithaka was ready for a whole new way to experience art. It was located in the art institute stuk and visitors had to wander through the building to discover the art. Jessica Friday, the next big thing, made an appearance and therefore Ithaka was broadcast on radio donna. Art was never so pink.
with Floris Dehantschutter, Mike Michiels & Yoni Jongen & Ester Kenis & Caroline Monthaye & Tomas Uyttendaele, Christian Noirfalise, Kumi Oguro & Yoko Enoki, Christian Noirfalise, Ilke De Vries, Kati Heck, Jo Foulon, Sara Nuytemans, Dirk Leroux, Annemie Buytaert, Nick Hullegie, Pieter-Jan Ginckels & Liesbeth Marit.
2004 Ithaka 12 – Re-framed
In 2004, Ithaka’s starting point was a question: what is the role of the curator? A research was held on how the artists’ participation in the exhibition could be expanded. It was the first time in Ithaka history that artists were involved in every part of the making of the festival. The location, Copal, had a rich history with different functions throughout the years: from a monastery to a boarding school.
with Annelies Van Camp, Sammy Ben Yakoub, Rinus Van De Velde, Bram Ollieuz, Kim Brewée, Lien Nollet & Fabien Delathauwer, Hans Wuyts, Colin Waeghe, Iris Vrints, Rita Vilhena & Bert De Muynck, Julia Wlodkowski, Philippe Cloes, Kim Vandaele & Vladimir Ivaneanu, Margarita Garrido Espinosa.
2005 Ithaka 13 – Eau revoir
For the 13th edition of Ithaka, 18 artists took over the deserted municipal swimming pool at the Hogeschoolplein. They used the entire building, from the entrance, to the dressing rooms and the engine room. During this short period of time, a new function was given to the building without losing its rich history.
with Eva De Leener, Bjorn Heyzak, Sylvie Janssens, Karina Van Heck, Soraya Namavar, Jeroen Permentier, Mike Michiels, Samira El Khadraoui, Piet Michiels & Kris Deweerdt, Bart Geerts, Annelies Van Camp, Sarah Deboosere, Natalie Vanheule, Judith Peeters, Heidi Swerts, Marie Droogmans, Frederik Van Simaey.
2006 Ithaka 14 – Artistic chemistry
With only a few artists, there was a massive effect. Location: the labs and little rooms of the empty Pharmaceutical Institute. The artistic maze within this location was almost a piece of art itself, asking for the participation of the visitors. Duo artists and solo artists alternated. This edition researched how artwork provokes human fantasy and passion.
with Sylvester Vandeweghe, Bart Popleu, Geert Devos, Evita Appendin, Klaarke Meert, Daan Theys, Saskia Aelen, Ruben Hoogewys & Frouke Van Gheluwe, Bjorn Gielen & Joeri Steeno, Kenny Verberckmoes & Robbie Van Nieuwenhove.
2007 Ithaka 15 – Deus ex?!
The location for the 15th ithaka was the old University Parish (up) in the Jan Stasstraat. The religious atmosphere was still present due to the chapel and decorative elements that remained. The artist interpreted the theme deus ex?! In different ways: did god disappear from contemporary art? Has religion been banned from our society? Is this banishment an improvement or deterioration? Questioning god and different religions, Ithaka 15 addressed a particularly topical worldwide issue.
with Fabian Van Hoof, Valerie Doutreluigne, Susan Banafti, Niko Hendrickx, Jeremy Swinnen, Jan Verbruggen, Wouter Van Der Hallen, Ada Van Hoorebeke, Florian Loosen, Michiel Maarten MC (Michiel Ceulers), Korneel Devillé, Nele Tas, Noura Mokhtar, Jeroen Vandromme & Elise Lepage.
2008 Ithaka 16 – Amphi-bios
This edition of Ithaka took place in the KU Leuven Institute of Land & Water Management. The central theme was amphi-bios and the exhibition focused on the tension between water and land. To attract a broad public & to stimulate the imagination of artists, the theme was inspired by the location. Amphi-bios is the Greek word for “both kinds of life”, referring to amphibians’ ability to survive both in water and on land.
with Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, Jeremy Swinnen, Samuel Vanderveken, Daan Fikkert, Reinhard De Jonghe, Jitske Kroon, Charlotte Peys, Kristof De Borle, Isa Van Duuren & Astrid Van Nimwegen, Meggy Rustamova, Reinhard De Jonge, Arthur Stokvis, Marleen Kurvers, Tamara Van San, Katrien Hendrickx, Karen Van Der Perre.
2009 Ithaka 17 – Artlandis (hic sunt dracones)
Ithaka 17 took place at the former KU Leuven Institute for Geology & brought the visitor from the far corners of the earth, to green tropics, yellow deserts and the wasteland of glaciers.
With Artlandis as a central theme, Ithaka referred to the mythical city of Atlantis. To support the mysterious character, the Latin subtitle “here are the dragons” was chosen. This statement was used on maps before men believed the earth was round. At the edges of the flat earth, dragons would devour everything and anything. the message of Ithaka was very ambitious: discover the whole (un)known world!
with Dagmar Blommaert, Els Corten, Catherine De Somer, Katrien Elsen & Els De Barbieux, Joke Hansen, Leen Hermans, Christine Heylen, Saliha Kenfi, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia, Pieter-Jan Maesen, Mathias Spriet, Samuel Vanderveken, Yentl Vandeurzen, Simon Vanheukelom, Peter Verwimp.
2010 Ithaka 18-plus xx+xy
After 18 years of transformation, Ithaka went back to the roots of life at the former deanery of medicine. The festival had grown up, but it will never be full-grown. Starting from a scientific basis, Ithaka created 18plus xx+xy. it was a place full of inspiration, creativity and most of all art, where artists strived to go further than human DNA. The goal wasn’t only to evolve as a festival, but also to give participants the chance to grow along with it.
with Choah Bang, Charlotte Bouckaert, Karel Burssens & Jeroen Verrecht, Gert De Clercq, Sarah De Wilde & Yiannis Papadoupolos, Benoit Gob, Juliette Kaise, Geert Koekoeckx, Marleen Kurvers, Pieter-Jan Maesen, Griet Menschaert, Filip Sterckx, Egon van Herreweghe, Karen Vermeren & Bart Verstockt.
2011 Ithaka 19 – Onvoltooid verleden tijd
Everything used to be better. There used to be a future & it used to look bright. Longing for yesterday, that was the theme of Ithaka 19. The past got a second chance in 2011, at three locations on the site of the Saint Raphael’s and Saint Peter’s Hospital. 18 young and upcoming artists with a nostalgic feeling were selected to present their work.
with Filip Sterckx, Heleen Peeters, Lisa De Boeck, Bart Smeets & Hans Geyens, Mathieu Staelens, An Vandermeulen, Kasper De Vos, Nel Bonte, Simon Perez, Thomas Van Guaelle, Elise Debrock, Geert Koekoeckx, Karin Schuitema, Mattias Christiaens, Ritsart Gobyn, Kato Six, Juan Duque, Kasinonar Collectief.
2012 Ithaka xx
Between April 25th & 28th 2012, LOKO culture organised the 20th edition of Ithaka. The inspirational Carthusian Monastery was selected as the location. The organisers chose to work without a central theme, to ensure creative freedom for the artists and to celebrate the fourth jubilee.
with Alina Cristea, An Overath, Anneleen De Causmaecker, Arnaud De Wolf, Catherine Lemblé, Fenne Westra, Franck Condon, Hans Geyens & Bart Smeets, Jakob Rosseel, Juan Soria, Lieven Geuns, Maarten Dedroog, Pieter durnez, Styn Vanbrabant, Sven Boel, Ulf Holler, Vladimir Slavov & Willem Sarah.
2013 Ithaka 21 – Monumental
The 21st edition of Ithaka took place in the Helleputte Building, the Vlaamse Leergangen & the Hôtel d’Eynatten. 15 artists got the opportunity to work around the central theme of monumentality, as two out of three buildings were monuments. Ithaka 21 also researched development in urbanisation & the transformation from stone to monument.
with Bram Lattré & Thomas Goddyn, Berten Jaekers, Dieter Daemen, Elien Ronse, Greet Theunkens, Heleen Peeters, Judith Mertens, Karel Verhoeven, Laurens Mariën, Lisa Spilliaert & Clara Spilliaert, Lulu Cuyvers, Maarten Vanermen & Myrthe Vander Mark.
2014 Ithaka 22 – Metamorphosis
In 2014, the work of 13 young artists was accommodated in the College of Premonstreit. The building has a rich history, full of transitions between form & function. The history was integrated in all the art pieces. The theme of Ithaka 22 was metamorphosis & its goal was to search for answers to the following questions: what is metamorphosis & transformation? How does art transform? Does art change the world, and if so: how? In short, art was presented for & in an environment that is subject to change.
with Bilal Bahir, Jolien Dirix, Rob Jacobs, Sfun & Jelle, Brecht Heytens, Dieter Van Caneghem, Karen Vantvelt, Lien Swerts, Romy Eijckmans, Zeli Bauwens, CM MC, Danny & Timmy.
2015 Ithaka 23
During Ithaka 23, 14 artists got the chance to exhibit their work at the KU Leuven Institute for Land and Water Management, which was soon to be transformed into the bac atelier. The organisers decided to work without a central theme again, which resulted in as much as 89 submissions. The student jury got the professional support of M-Museum & D!ng Magazine.
with Emilie Neyt, Natasja Mabesoone, Nadia Randriamorasta, Dries Segers, Emre Celikcan, Lukas Verdijk & Vesna Faasen, Sarah De Vos, Anneleen Steenbergen, Ritsart Gobyn, Karen Vantvelt, Korneel Boeve, Rob Jacobs & Jana Coorevits, Lola Pertsowsky, Margot De Clerck & Kaïn Walgrave.
2016 Ithaka anatomé
This edition returned to the roots of Ithaka, by using more than one location. Four buildings on the Axis of the Minderbroedersstraat & Kapucijnenvoer were explored: the Anatomical Theatre, the Sint-Agnes Institute, the former girls’ school and the Botanical Garden. The jury received 102 applications, out of which 15 artists were selected. They were encouraged to interact with the buildings. Thanks to the broad variety of art works, visitors had the opportunity to come into contact with different forms of contemporary art.
with Amber De Saeger, Aron Wouters, Brecht Heytens, Jasper Van Loon, Jolien De Roo, Kathi Seebeck, Kevin Collaer, Laure Forêt, Matthias De Vriendt, Melvin Pattyn, Rishin Singh, tbedrijf, Tja Ling Hu, Waldorf Claw & Winne Lievens.
2017 Ithaka 25
In 2017, Ithaka celebrated it’s 25th lustrum. The art festival reached a new milestone. During this edition, 13 young artists exhibited their art work from the 6th of March until the 12th of March. The exhibition took place in the Luxemburgcollege in Vaartstraat in Leuven. The beginning of the twentieth century was a period of indetermination for the Luxemburgcollege. In 2013, the building’s facade was renewed because a small part of the city was being restored. In 2014, the city of Leuven decided to give the building a new purpose as a law court. For Ithaka 25, we agreed to work without an outspoken theme to dedicate our full attention to the 25th birthday of the art festival. In this way, artists were able to exhibit their projects with much more freedom.
with Ash Bowland, Bram Van Breda, Esther Hoogendijk, Henk Huibers, Henk-Sjoerd Hinrichs, Iza Marie Jans, Jonathan Huygens, Kimberly Hoskens, Melvin Pattyn, Mirrounds, Sarah Lauwers, Thomas Lesaffre.
2018 Ithaka #26
LOKO organised the 26th edition of the arts festival Ithaka in 2018. This edition took place in the Carthusian Monastery. It’s a building that dates back to the 15th century. For a long time it was a home for Carthusian monks, but last century the building was inhabited by Capuchin monks. From 1521 onwards, the monastery was linked to the university and it helped spread the philosophy of humanism within the university. From 2015 the Carthusian monastery was a temporary home for a few young refugees.
We arrive in the year 2018, the year when the arts festival takes place in the monastery. Just in time, because shortly after the festival, the monastery would be renovated in order to fulfil a new purpose. Just like the previous editions, a few young artists were given the opportunity to exhibit their work in a historical building which temporarily came back to life for the festival. The most recent editions had no central theme, and this year was no different. Without being guided by a central theme, the artists have more freedom to develop their ideas.
With Ash Bowland, Diego Latruwe, Florian Waerzeggers, Florien Allermeersch, Geraldo H. Dos Santos, Jomi Builaert, Laura De Jaeger, Lukas Claessens, Mathieu Hendrickx, Sanne Kabalt, Santiago Evans Canales, Simon Mascchelein, Tubien Van Wulften, Johanna Ellesdorfer & Elisa Maupas