VUB awards honorary doctorates to Stephan Vanfleteren and Dirk Braeckman

VUB awards honorary doctorates to Stephan Vanfleteren and Dirk Braeckman

Award ceremony on 3 August at Theater Aan Zee in Ostend

Vrije Universiteit Brussel awards honorary doctorates to photographers Stephan Vanfleteren and Dirk Braeckman. They will receive the title of Doctor Honoris Causa based on their general social merits. Dirk Braeckman is constantly seeking the limits of photography. He gives the viewer the freedom of interpretation, which is a brilliant portrayal of the VUB value that thoughts are free. Stephan Vanfleteren's ability to make us think and move with light and dark, black and white, also has a very special meaning for Vrije Universiteit Brussel with their motto 'Scientia Vincere Tenebras'.

The award ceremony will take place at 11 am on Tuesday 3 August at Casino Kursaal in Ostend during Theater Aan Zee festivals. Journalists who wish to be present can address the VUB press relations office. In attachment you will find the motivation for awarding the artists an honorary doctorate.

Today, 21 June, is the day of solstice. The play of light and dark is a fixed element in the works of photographer Stephan Vanfleteren and photographer, sculptor and pictorial artist Dirk Braeckman.

VUB Rector Caroline Pauwels, who is also guest-curator for Theater Aan Zee. "With these honorary doctorates and with the partnership with Theater aan Zee, we want to show ourselves as a connected organization and consciously build a bridge between science and art. After all, the work of academics and artists both derives from curiosity, wonder, freedom, creativity and critical thinking. The work of photographers such as Stefan Vanfleteren and Dirk Braeckman proves this."

Stephan Vanfleteren

Stephan Vanfleteren has been an internationally acclaimed photographer for 30 years. He studied photography at the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels, worked as a freelance photographer for De Morgen from 1993 to 2009, and is co-founder and art director of Publisher Kannibaal/Hannibal. Since 2010 he has been a guest lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Ghent. He is known for his black and white portraits and reportage at home and abroad. His work is characterized by sobriety and character photography. Vanfleteren expresses desire in his work and he provokes thought with light and dark, black and white. He connects past and present, life and death, concrete and nature, grief and hope, defeat and resilience, loneliness and togetherness with the four primal elements as a background: fire, water, earth and air. Each of his initiatives is preceded by careful observation and critical analysis of the subject and is underpinned by authentic humanist values.


Dirk Braeckman

Dirk Braeckman is internationally appreciated and renowned as a photographer, sculptor (e.g. Over the Edges in 2000) and pictorial artist who seeks interfaces and cross-fertilization with the other art expressions. He studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he co-founded the Galerie XYZ in Ghent together with Carl De Keyzer. Between 1994 and 1997 he taught photography at the National Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp, and in 1999 he was a lecturer at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. Former Flemish minister Sven Gatz commissioned Dirk Braeckman to represent Belgium at the 57th international art exhibition La Biennale di Venezia from 13 May to 26 November 2017. Like an explorer/scout, Braeckman seeks out the boundaries in photography. He pushes them and invites us to explore the multilayered meaning of his art. Braeckman also invites the viewer to embark on his own quest and gives him the freedom to interpret.


After the official awarding of the honorary doctorates, hostess Fien Sabbe welcomes writer Peter Verhelst and musicians Mauro Pawlowski and Brihang to pay tribute to the laureates.


The presentation of the honorary doctorates is also open to the public, provided that a ticket (€5) is purchased. VUB residents and VUB invitees can expect a message about their free voucher.  After the ceremony you can visit (until 8 August) an exhibition of Dirk Braeckman's work in the Herstraat 9 gallery. Work by Stephan Vanfleteren can be seen at the Iceland Fishing exhibition in the Venetian galleries.


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Sicco Wittermans
Sicco Wittermans Spokes person Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Sicco Wittermans
Sicco Wittermans Spokes person Vrije Universiteit Brussel
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