In 2012 the Annual Meeting was held in Belgium. Under the topic “Surrealistic Landscapes” the 15 participants experienced Belgium and some of its surreal aspects from a historical, political, artistic and landscape- point of view. From Friday, 17th until 24th August 2012 the organizing team took the visitors to different places around the country.
The meeting started in the Belgian capital Brussels, where all the participants where welcomed by the Belgian team before the whole group left to Ghent by train. After a short tour through the city a first introduction into Belgian culture was provided with dinner and beer tasting at a local brewery. The next day started with a short lecture and site visit of the workshop site at the old dockyards in the city of Ghent. In the afternoon the city was explored by bike and some installations of the art festival TRACK where visited before the day ended with swimming and the traditional international evening. The following day was fully dedicated to the workshop where the participants developed ideas how to bring back some life to the old dockyards visited the day before.
The Monday started with a late breakfast and the return of the bikes before the group went on its way to the region around the city Ypres. The area around the city of Ypres was one of the main strategic battle sites during the First World War (1914-1918), resulting eventually in complete devastation of this area near the end of the war. Mud, debris and some trunks were all that remained. The city was completely rebuild in the historic style, and what seems at first glance to be a very charming and well preserved old city, bears a heavy loaded history (500.000 deaths in this area alone) that can still be visited in parts, making it a unique area for World War One commemoration. An expert in heritage conservation from the university of Ghent guided the group during the day and provided some interesting insights and detail information. In the evening the group continued to Oostende at the coast to stay for the night.
Oostende was visited the next day on bikes. The tour included the city centre, several parks, a visit to the art festival Beaufort04, swimming on the beach and finally the discovery of the nightlife and the famous Bicky Burgers. The follwing day the whole group went by train to Antwerpen and spend the day in the city before we visited the nearby devastated village of Doel and had the amazing experience of having pizza in the middle of a street crossing. With full stomachs we climbed the bus to Brussels, where the last day of the meeting included walks around the city, the Rene Magritte Museum and a final and spectacular visit to the Atomium. The concluding farewell party in the city centre of Brussels once again made the spirit of ELASA live up until everybody tired but with happy memories left back to their home countries the day after.