The Crystal Ship is back in Ostend

the crystal ship

Celebrating the fourth edition of Ostend’s ‘The Crystal Ship’ street art festival, a select group of Belgian and international street artists are invited to spread their art around the city. Their theme? The Dictatorship of Art. We had a chat with curator Bjørn van Poucke about his work, and his reasons to start working with a theme for the first time this year.

The Belgian ‘City by the Sea’ already boasts a great public art collection featuring 54 large-scale murals, alongside smaller artworks and installations.

Since when I began this adventure” said curator Bjørn Van Pouckethe feedback of local people has been very positive: wall owners get in touch to help us getting the locations right. I have the feeling I’m organizing the festival with every habitant of the city. And, to be honest, it really feels like an amazing honor to work with them

More artists are set to visit the Belgian costal city this year, among which the German graffiti legend Case MaClaim, the 3D master Leon Keer, the urban interventionist Jaune and the political yet surreal Escif.

Street Art Today The Crystal Ship Jaune

Jaune at The Crystal Ship 2018

Bjørn Van Poucke: “I started organizing my very first art festival 8 years ago. My goal back then was just to showcase that the Belgian public has an interest in street art. Now, 8 years later, I would like to tell a story with my artists. I believe having a theme for the first time ever definitely helps to tell this story

The Crystal Ship

Ben Slow at The Crystal Ship 2018

For the first time this year, The Crystal Ship embraces a theme: The Dictatorship of Art.

According to curator Bjørn Van Poucke: “This theme is in fact not meant as a provocative statement. It is, quite simply, a manifest. Let us be honest: we have already tried everything else – popes to presidents, communism to capitalism, aristocracy to mediacracy – and the world is still on the brink of a nervous breakdown. And that is why The Crystal Ship is – emphatically, because only then we can make a difference – aligning with the German artist Jonathan Meese, who states that Art is by far the most radical thing you can do with your life. Forget politics, forget religion, forget ‘purchasing power’ or other truisms. Only Art has the power to truly change the world. Only Art will let you bring something meaningful to the table. So stop what you are doing. Now! Right away! Drop everything, muster all your passion and creativity, fire up all your lust and enthusiasm, and go nuts. Not half-heartedly, not just a bit, but completely nuts. Choose Art. Choose The Dictatorship of Art

We are looking forward to seeing how this suggestive topic will be developped by the artists onto the walls of Ostend.

The Crystal Ship

Colectivo Licuado at The Crystal Ship 2018

The Crystal Ship 2019: Artists Line-Up

Case Maclaim (DE) – Crystal Wagner (USA) – David Walker (UK) – Escif (ES) – Helen Bur (UK) – Jaune (BE) – Leon Keer (NL) – Lonac (HR) – Marina Capdevila (ES) – Miss Van (FR) – Mohamed l’Ghacham (ES) – Paola Delfin (MX) – Tom Herck (BE) – Wasted Rita (PT)


The Crystal Ship 2019 launches on April 13th, with a full program of guided tours, parties and –of course- live painting.


All photos in this post are by Henrik Haven; Header photo: Matthew Dawn at The Crystal Ship 2018

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Street Art Today is a platform for promoting street art and a full-service Urban Contemporary and Street Art agency. We enjoy working with globally recognized artists on award-winning art projects. We’re also the organizers of the annual Kings Spray Street Art Festival. Currently we're working on creating the world's largest street art museum in a former shipyard warehouse at NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam.