Mons: it’s the European Capital of Culture – but locals just want to go to Ikea

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Neon nest … the €400,000 centrepiece of Mons Capital of Culture has now been dismantled for fear of collapse
Neon nest … the €400,000 centrepiece of Mons Capital of Culture has now been dismantled for fear of collapse / © Olivier Berg/EPA

A cloud of planks swirls above the streets in the Belgian city of Mons, thrusting neon-painted splinters out in all directions. Like the jazzy nest of some mutant raver-crows, it is a curious arrival to the sleepy medieval lanes, a 90m-long torrent of orange sticks between the classical law courts and the baroque bell tower. It can only mean one thing: the European capital of culture 2015 has arrived.

That was the scene last week. Now all that remains of the €400,000 centrepiece of the city’s cultural jamboree is a few broken stumps jutting out of the pavement. The entire sculpture, designed by Belgian artist Arne Quinze and intended to stand here for the next five years, has been dismantled after just five weeks, following concerns over its stability after chunks of wood fell to the ground.

“It’s a precautionary measure. We will not take any chances,” said the city’s usually ebullient mayor, Elio di Rupo, who recently returned to lead his hometown after three years as Belgium’s prime minister. “We have talked about reconstruction, but we must first absorb the shock.” ….