The Foreigner

February 1–March 29, 2013
Venue: SPACES, Cleveland, OH
Participating artist(s): Jon Rubin and Felipe Castelblanco
Publication: Gallery Booklet

Imagine a freckled 14 year old girl at the mall who approaches a stranger and asks, “What is the weather like where you are?” The bewildered stranger cocks an eyebrow and replies, “It’s pretty cold and snowing.” The girl states, “It is 11 degrees Celsius here in Tehran.” Thoroughly confused, the stranger narrows his eyes and furrows his brow. The girl goes on to explain, “I am sitting in my home in Iran, listening to you through my computer and speaking to you through this girl in front of you. I am a 30 year-old man and a musician. What kinds of music do you like?”

The brainchild of artists Jon Rubin and Felipe Castelblanco, this scenario will play out a number of times at different locations in Cleveland as part of The Foreigner. The project employs simple mobile technology that allows Clevelanders to act as physical avatars for Iranian citizens, thus enabling the general public in the mall to meet and speak to someone living in Iran through the body of a local citizen.

The Foreigner presents an uncanny circumstance where the separation between self and other, local and foreign, is collapsed and confused, and the geopolitical distance between the United States and Iran is made personal and local.

Jon Rubin and Felipe Castelblanco, The Foreigner
Jon Rubin and Felipe Castelblanco
The Foreigner, 2013

Events with Avatars

Opening at SPACES
Friday, February 1, 6:00–9:00 pm
Other events
Saturday, February 2, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Saturday, February 9, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Sunday, February 17, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Saturday, March 9, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Saturday, April 6, 10:00 am–1:00 pm