Iconic statues

Johan Leman, 12 May 2024

You expect the statue of Breydel and De Coninck in Bruges, not in Ghent. You expect Jacob van Artevelde in Ghent, not in Bruges or Antwerp. Such statues do not necessarily have to be there, but once they are, their place makes sense and creates meaningful identity.  Not least if there is a mythical story there too.

Why should that logic not apply to the iconic Vaartkapoen at Place Sainctelette, on the edge of Historic Molenbeek? Weren’t the Vaartkapoenen this part of the Molenbeek work force made up of underdogs? Weren’t they the ones best watched by the police? The rascals from Little Manchester in the 19th century?

Over the years, ‘vaartkapoen’ became a nickname: it took on a much more positive meaning. This is what is about to happen to Molenbeek too, a process that has already begun. Some statues represent this development. That is why they belong in precise places, and not others. That place is Historic Molenbeek. For such a statue, one should not look for a place where it looks ‘nicer’ or where even ‘more people’ pass by. Such a sculpture must be historically rooted and tell something meaningful.

Bring back iconic Vaartkapoen at Historic Molenbeek


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