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3rd neighbourhood dialogue with Jon Rubin

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ifa laboratory’s third neighbourhood dialogue project on research stage


Jon Rubin Jeu de Balle 1Jon Rubin Jeu de Balle 2

What do you get if you mix a politician, a social worker, a researcher, and an artist? One answer is a contextual artist, or a social practice artist.

Jon Rubin was trained in fine arts and he started his career as a painter. Today, and since 25 years back, he is working with contextual art. As Jon was interested in politics and the society he decided to change practice as he felt a need for channeling his interests through art in another way.


Today Jon is a praised for his social art practice. Recently he delivered a project “…Circle Through New York” (together with artist Lenka Clayton) for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The project sought to create dialogues across perceived cultural, economic and geographic boundaries as well as among entities with different civil functions. The project was made possible through a generous grant to Guggenheim’s Social Practice Programme from the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.

Another of Jon’s recent projects is “Conflict Kitchen” (with Dawn Weleski); a restaurant that only served cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. The restaurant rotated identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration was augmented by events, performances, and discussions that sought to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country.


The value of art, social practice and the role of the artist in the society is something that Arts Lab Brussels explores since its start. This is also at the core of the “neighbourhood dialogue programme”* that took off in 2016. The programme is co-created with different artists; the first with Swedish artist Patrik Qvist, “Everyone an activist” and made locals interact on the topic of environment, climate change and local social environment. The second project “If I had Wings” departs from a public space installation by Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen aiming to inspire locals to reflect upon their identity, the identity of the neighbourhood and the right to the common space shared.


As with Jon Rubin’s previous projects these initiatives are focused on process and not product. Today there is still a great challenge for these kind of projects with limited enlightenment from non creative sector’s and from politicians on what artists actually can contribute with outside art galleries and museums. When will they understand that it is in the intersection of disciplines, sectors and cultures innovation happens?


Jon Rubin recently came to Brussels for the research visit regarding the 3rd neighbourhood dialogue project with the working title “Transatlantic art lab” made possible with support from the German Marshall Fund of the United States (Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives Alumni Grants*).

In Brussels experience and conclusions from previous programme projects were shared with Jon and he visited the neighbourhood and talked to locals. Jon says “I was particularly struck by the Vieux Marche, La Place du Jeu de Balle, in the Marolles neighbourhood. There is a social model within the market that seems to function more organically than that of the larger neighbourhood and economically smoother than that of the labyrinthine structure of the city and state”.


The next step is to go to Cleveland in the US to do continued research there, because the 3rd neighbourhood dialogue gets a transatlantic perspective with the exchange between a Cleveland neighbourhood and the Marolles in Brussels; how can communities be reinforced by a transatlantic exchange?


#jonrubin #GMF #GMFMMF #privatepublic #crosssector #artasmethod #socialpractice #innovation #greenhouseforsocietalandculturaldevelopment


Johanna Suo, founding and administration member Arts Lab Brussels, Director ifa laboratory



*The neighbourhood dialogue programme is conceptualised by ifa laboratory and managed by Arts Lab Brussels.

*The Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives Alumni Grants
This project is supported financially by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and implemented by alumni of its leadership programs. Managers for project and exchange: Johanna Suo, ifa laboratory and Arts Lab Brussels, Belgium and Arlene Watson, FRONT, Cleveland, USA.
GMF offers a portfolio of leadership development initiatives for established, mid-career, and next generation leaders who are committed to strengthening transatlantic relations to make a free, prosperous, and peaceful world possible. Upon successful graduation from one of these programs, participants join a 4-thousand strong GMF alumni network that deploys their talents to advance democracy, inclusive leadership, and global engagement for a new century of transatlantic collaboration. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

ifa laboratory @European Business Summit 23 May

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“Creativity at the heart of businesses, a key to success?”


ifa laboratory presented a session at the European Business Summit in Brussels on 23 May A panel discussing creativity in business was created. The question was “Can creativity, if placed at the heart of projects and companies result in innovation with the potential for longer term disruption?”.

These days’ creativity, disruption and innovation are frequently used buzzwords. But what does innovation really mean? And how does this translate into the corporate environment?

This session was not about presenting a final definition of innovation, and certainly not about product or business model innovation. This session aimed to dissect innovation and its various aspects by a case-by-case and company-by-company interpretation of innovation from a people-driven view because what drives innovation are people, process and philosophy.

The panelists, with different backgrounds in so-called “creative” and “non creative” sectors presented the big picture on how their organizations work with, and arrived at innovation, and what was critical to do so. They also dived into the intersectionality with company culture and the best ways to work with creativity and what its place is in achieving innovation.

ifa laboratory contributed with human driven and cross sector perspectives through the artist as the natural expert of creativity.

A couple of key agreements about the innovation process:

  • Risk taking (can of course be measured) has to be implemented in the DNA of the company culture.
  • People. You work with and for people. People’s relations. People are the basics for all innovation.
  • Education. Informal or formal…Knowledge…You have to know your field, team, company, product…in order to innovate.
  • Why do you want to innovate? What is driving you? Is it for your image (whose image?) or are there real needs and thought through reasons behind?


Thomas Van Halewyck, CEO and founder BUNDL

Javier Echarri, CEO, EBN Innovation network

Frederique Paccagnella, Director at Excel Careers and Excel Interim

Zeldah Schrama, innovation consultant, Connect Africa

Bartholomeus Henri Van de Velde, change management expert and orchestra director ifa laboratory


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Collecte T-shirts ! Participez / T-shirts inzamelingsactie ! Deel mee / T-shirt collection ! Join us

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Collecte de T-shirts pour une installation artistique !

Date limite pour les dons de t-shirts et chemises à manches courtes : 4 Avril 2018

Donnez une nouvelle vie à vos vieux t-shirts en contribuant à une installation artistique – aidez-nous à donner de la couleur à l’ascenseur des Marolles !

Nous récoltons toute sorte de t-shirts et de chemises colorés à manches courtes pour une installation monumentale qui aura lieu sur l’ascenseur des Marolles. Cette installation aura pour but de représenter les différentes communautés qui vivent et travaillent dans le quartier, ainsi que celles passées et à venir.

L’artiste finnoise Kaarina Kaikkonen mettra en place l’œuvre d’art au cours de la deuxième semaine d’avril. L’installation durera tout l’été et donnera lieu à des conversations et des débats autour de thématiques propres au quartier des Marolles.

Participez !

L’inauguration aura lieu le mardi 17 avril 2018 en présence de l’artiste, l’équipe du projet, le ministre Pascal Smet, l’échevine Karine Lalieux , l’ambassadeur finlandais Timo Ranta, et d’autres encore. Nous vous y attendons nombreux !

Si vous avez une grande quantité de t-shirts à donner ou si vous voulez participer à la mise en place de l’oeuvre, vous pouvez nous contacter par email à l’adresse suivante : contact@ifa-laboratory.com

Points de collecte

Vous pouvez déposer vos t-shirts et chemises à manches courtes aux endroits suivants :

Plus d’infos ?

Inzamelingsactie: T-shirts gezocht voor kunstinstallatie !!

T-shirts schenken kan tot 4 april 2018

Geef een tweede leven aan oude T-shirts en hemden met korte mouwen in een artistiek en kleurrijk project aan de lift in de Marollen

Wij verzamelen T-shirts en hemden met korte mouwen voor een kunstinstallatie op de lift van de Marollen. Dit kunstwerk staat symbool voor de verschillende mensen die in deze wijk leven en werken, zowel in het verleden als in de toekomst.

De Finse artieste Kaarina Kaikkonen zal dit kunstwerk creëren tijdens de tweede week van april. Het kunstwerk zal de hele zomer te zien zijn en zal aanleiding geven voor ontmoeting en dialoog rond thema’s die eigen zijn aan de wijk van de Marollen.

Deel mee !

U bent van harte welkom tijdens de inhuldiging op dinsdag 17 april, in aanwezigheid van de kunstenares, het team van het project, Brussels minister Pascal Smet en schepen in Stad Brussel Karine Lalieux, de Finse ambassadeur Timo Ranta en nog veel meer.


Veel T-shirt te schenken of helpen bij de opbouw van het kunstwerk ? Neem contact met ons via contact@ifa-laboratory.com


Meer informatie ?

T-shirts wanted for art installation!  

Deadline for giving t-shirts and short sleeved shirts: 4 April 2018

Give a second life to your old t-shirts and give color to the elevator of the Marolles!

All sorts of t-shirts and short sleeved shirts are wanted for a monumental art installation for the elevator of the Marolles. The installation will reflect upon many different people and communities living and working (past, present, future) in the neighbourhood. Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen will create and install the piece during the second week of April. The artwork will be up for the summer and be accompanied by conversations about the Marolles.

Join us !! 

On Tuesday 17 April it is time for the inauguration of the work 2018 in presence of the artist, the team, Minister Pascal Smet, the alderman Karine Lalieux, the Finnish ambassador Timo Ranta and many more.

If you have a larger amount of t-shirts to donate or if you would like to participate in the installation of the artwork please send an e-mail to: contact@ifa-laboratory.com

Collecting points

Here is a list of the partners and venues where you can leave your t-shirts and short sleeved shirts:

More info ?

Echoes from 6 November Creative Forum Charleroi

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“Une journée très inspirante et un thème passionnant !”

On 6 November ifa laboratory (Bartholomeus Henri Van de Valde, orchestra director/ expert in change management, Sebastien Meert, entrepreneur and coach specialised in commercial strategy/ sale team development and Johanna Suo, director ifa laboratory) organised a conference on behalf of Bubble Hub/ Forum Charleroi Creative/ IGretec.


The objective with the day “The artist and his/her competences as source for creativity & innovation in the company” was to inspire and show the audience the potential to innovation and change through our working methods.

We are happy about the feedback; 92,4 % of the participants would like to go deeper into the topic through a workshop.

Some echoes from the day:
“Les 3 intervenants de la journée se complétaient idéalement”.

“J’ai été interpéllé par le contenu, car je m’attendais à ce qu’on parle surtout d’une utilisation par l’entreprise de la créativité de l’artiste dans le but d’améliorer les produits. Que des entreprises engagent des artistes professionnels pour venir sonder les processus relationnels, je trouve ça encore plus intéressant !”

“I am surprised by the skills of the artists”.

“Je suis interpéllé par cette façon d’aborder différents sujets par la créativité”.

“Following this experience I plan to collaborate with ifa laboratory”.

“L’émotion et l’écoute .L’apprentissage pour les hauts responsables de secteurs obligatoire . Un label de qualité pour l’entreprise”.


ifa laboratory new member of European Creative Business Network!

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ifa laboratory is a new member of the European Creative Business Network! This is good news as we believe it will make us prosper and grow. We also look forward to contribute; to exchange about the crucial role the creative industries play in other sectors and see how we can increase the cooperation with other sectors. #valueofculture #crosssector #ecosystem #betterworld #disruption #innovation