Bart Moeyaert has been appointed artistic director of the programme to be presented by Flanders and the Netherlands as guests of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016.
In mid-March 2014 the two culture ministers, Jet Bussemaker and Joke Schauvliege, signed an agreement with Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. The agreement states that the Netherlands and Flanders will jointly present themselves as guests of honour at this most important of all international book fairs.
It has been known for some time that the two literature foundations will take responsibility for organizing the programme, but the entire book industry has spent several months eagerly anticipating the appointment of the project’s artistic director.
In choosing Bart Moeyaert the two foundations are clearly opting for an enterprising author who is held in high regard by his colleagues, by the public and by the media, in both Flanders and the Netherlands. Moeyaert is an internationally renowned author with an extensive network in many foreign countries and translations in twenty-one languages. Nineteen of Moeyaert’s books have been published in German translation, most of them by Carl Hanser Verlag. He has a strong relationship with the German language area, where he regularly holds workshops and appears on stage at festivals. He has been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair for twenty-five years and knows it from the inside out. Moeyaert writes prose and poetry for readers of all ages and in that sense builds bridges between different literary genres and authors. He is passionate about all kinds of art forms, enjoys experimenting with digital media, is continually searching for innovative ways of interesting and involving his readers, has gained experience at organizing multidisciplinary productions and is extraordinarily creative. These qualities among others make Bart Moeyaert the perfect person to fill the role of artistic director.
“I’m now going to look for a simple concept with a clear message,” says Bart Moeyaert. “Finding the most natural way to present Flanders and the Netherlands together internationally – that’s important. On reading tours I’ve all too often had to explain where Flanders and the Netherlands are. Is Flemish the same as Dutch and is Amsterdam near Antwerp?” The guest of honour programme will be breathtaking and transcend all the clichés. Moeyaert goes on: “You can’t use tulips or beer to promote literature. I enjoy parties, but I’m not crazy about having parties here there and everywhere. A guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair is memorable only if you can still recall that unique atmosphere years later. You remember what it was like to step into the guest of honour’s hall, you know where you were sitting when you experienced that particular event, you can still see the writers in front of you. That’s what we have to achieve, presenting the Low Countries in Frankfurt in such a way that visitors remember them as the Wow! Countries.”
The Frankfurt Book Fair takes place every year in October. With around 7,300 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, over 9,000 journalists and some 275,000 visitors, it is the largest and most important book fair in the world. Guests of honour in recent years have been Argentina (2010), Iceland (2011), New Zealand (2012) and Brazil (2013). This year’s Ehrengast is Finland and next year’s will be Indonesia.