Make way for the municipality of Differdange! In the framework of the European Capital of Culture Esch2022, the municipality of Differdange now has the opportunity to showcase its outstanding multicultural identity and its diverse cultural offer to Luxembourgish and international visitors. With unusual performances and theatre shows, gastronomic explorations and numerous artistic interventions in public spaces, it certainly knows how to impress each and everyone with its unique charm.
The third largest municipality in the country, Differdange includes the localities of Oberkorn, Niederkorn and Lasauvage. Located on the border with France in the Chiers valley, the town has a rich historical heritage, with prestigious buildings such as the Cistercian Abbey dating from 1235 or the Château de Differdange, which houses the Miami University.
It is also surrounded by beautiful nature made up of forests and parks. When they are not walking around town, the locals gather at the many events and activities that punctuate the annual calendar. Everyone will tell you the same thing: there is always something to do in Differdange!
As far as culture is concerned, the events, shows and concerts at the Aalt Stadhaus, the Marcel Noppeney Centre, the H2O space in the former Oberkorn water reservoir or the photo exhibitions at the Paul Wurth Hall always attract many curious people. Moreover, if you are looking to meet the country’s creative minds, Differdange is the place to be: many of them have set up shop at the 1535° Creative Hub located in the former workshops of the ArcelorMittal factory. Yes, let’s not forget that “the iron city”, as it is known, was Luxembourg’s first industrial town. As far as history is concerned, a visit to the Grôven mine, which was operational until 1957, is a must. Now a museum, the gallery tells the story of the miners’ daily lives through sound and photos. A reconstruction can also be seen in the Eugène Pesch Museum in Lasauvage.
Lasauvage is the only French-speaking village in Luxembourg to be declared a pilot village for the preservation and restoration of the industrial habitat. It is home to a working-class housing estate that is still in its original state, as well as a museum and a salle des pendus (hall of the hanged) – the name given to the miners’ cloakroom – that are well worth a visit. Today, Differdange has a dense population with at least 100 nationalities. This multiculturalism is promoted and valued by the municipality, as shown by the Festival of Cultures, which has been organised for over 20 years every spring and is always a great success. This festival celebrates the diversity of its residents through music, cuisine and crafts: an unmissable event that allows visitors to feel the pulse of the municipality.
Within the framework of Esch2022, the municipality of Differdange, in collaboration with numerous cultural actors from the region, has implemented a variety of exciting ideas and projects that combine the central themes of Esch2022 with a wide range of art forms in order to showcase the character and unique features of its municipality to the general public.
One of these projects focuses on a topic that is rather rarely dealt with in the art world, but is nevertheless of great importance: the place and role of agriculture in our modern world. Differdange is home to the ancient farm “Lommelshaff”, which was sold by its family to a building developer a while ago. However, the municipality decided to buy the farm back in order to preserve and restore it.
This very story was the inspiration for the project Terre Ferme – Lommelshaff. During this participatory theatre piece, the audience will follow the actors all around the area and through various rooms of the farm while reflecting on the still uncertain future of the property. Should the farm be demolished in order to build housing there? Should it be turned into a huge commercial farm or rather a small and modest organic farm? Director Renelde Pierlot and author Francesco Mormino want to encourage the audience to understand and question the values and difficult challenges of the world of agriculture today. During the performance, they will also have the opportunity to sit down at the dining table with the actors to sample local products and dishes and enjoy them together.
In the context of this multilingual performance, various workshops on topics such as conservation or culinary memory will be held between 27 September and 4 October, and there will also be an ephemeral restaurant.
Another leitmotif that connects the municipality of Differdange with Esch2022 is that of accessibility. Back in 2014, the municipality of Differdange hired a “disability officer” to address this very issue. In 2016, the municipality also set up a participation committee, whose members all live with a disability, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, they can advise and support the municipality in its initiatives for an inclusive society. Following the principle of “design for all”, the municipality works with internal and external partners from the fields of education, sports, business and urban planning to develop targeted actions to make the municipality of Differdange more accessible and inclusive.
As part of the Pimp my Access(ibility) project, various obstacles such as steep inclines, stairs or holes are equipped with inclined planes or ramps, which facilitate and/or enable access to places or buildings for people with wheelchairs, but also for those with strollers or buggies. Now, these very features are being “pimped” by a number of artists in order to beautify the urban landscape and convey positive feelings, while at the same time taking into account the needs of the entire population.
Following the Esch2022 motto “Remix Yourself”, the DiffMix project gives the citizens of the municipality the opportunity to take part in a very special art project. In an initial phase, the people of Differdange were asked to select five public places within the municipality that have a significant influence on their individual everyday lives. In order to upgrade the selected places, artists from all over Europe were invited to present their ideas for an artistic redesign of these locations.
Together with the citizens, they developed and elaborated different concepts to give each person the opportunity to have an influence on the design of their surroundings and to re-experience the public space through this tangible process of creation both in a cultural and participatory context. You have the opportunity to admire three of these exciting art interventions until 31 December at Thillebierg, in the car park near Aquasud at Place Jehan Steichen in Oberkorn and in the Parc de la Chiers.
The ephemeral restaurant that is being built on the site of the Lommelshaff as part of the le mixeur project also relies on the collaboration with local citizens. All the elements of the restaurant will be built and arranged during various workshops, and the recipes will be elaborated. Everything from the chairs and menus to the plates and tablecloths will be designed and crafted collectively. Each element of this restaurant is meant to symbolise a certain aspect of the region’s identity. This creates a place of collective creation and exchange, where art, gastronomy and cultural diversity come together. Once this is done, the only thing left to do is to share your collective stories about cooking and exchange ideas.
In the Parc de la Chiers, the Esch2022 project PANTA RHEI presents various sculptures illustrating the constant process of change in our natural world. They are intended to demonstrate the changeability as well as the transience and the eternal “flow” of nature. In this spirit, the park offers a unique meeting place for people from different neighbourhoods, generations and cultures.
On 19 October, there will be a philosophy seminar at the Ecole Internationale de Differdange including a visit of the exhibition in the ‘Parc de la Chiers’. The Paideia asbl and the professors of the Ecole Internationale de Differdange will focus on the teachings of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus and the leitmotif Panta Rhei to encourage participants to reflect on transience as well as the natural flow of things.
By contrast, the DifferDanceDays project invites visitors to move, to feel and enjoy the freedom of their own movements. On the occasion of a series of original events in unusual places, the Lucoda collective invites everyone to merge the past and the present of the art of dance. The idea is to dance together and be inspired by each other, to “remix” different art forms and to experience new immersive and interactive experiences.
In the framework of the DifferDanceDays, there will be two Rencontres éphémères. During these events, the Lucoda collective aims to introduce the art of dance into locations that normally have nothing to do with this art form… such as a church, for example. In this spirit, everyone interested is invited to meet on 12 October between 19.30 and 19.55 at the Eglise de Saint Paul and on 19 October at the Eglise de Saint Joseph to rediscover this unusual space and bring it to life alongside a renowned choreographer. You can register by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 58 77 1-1900.
In the same context, the Grand Bal will take place on 22 October in the Aalt Stadhaus, marking the closing event of the Month of Differdange. In a festive atmosphere, amateur dance enthusiasts will have the opportunity to come together with professionals and celebrate Differdange’s unique contribution to the European Capital of Culture 2022 project.
You can have a look at the municipality’s complete programme on the website of the Aalt Stadhaus