The Foreigner

Felipe Castelblanco, Jon Rubin
February 01 - March 29, 2013

Everyday Clevelanders will function as real-time local avatars for Iranians overseas. Through simple, mobile technology each Cleveland avatar will be connected live to an Iranian citizen. The Iranian will then speak only to the avatar (through an ear piece) and direct them in who to approach and what to say, as they walk through various public spaces. In this way citizens of Cleveland will be introduced to someone who is currently living in an entirely different cultural circumstance through the body of a local citizen right in front of them.

The Iranian citizens and Cleveland avatars have been selected from all walks of life, from children to seniors. Therefore it will be possible for a local teenage girl to be the avatar for a 53-year-old Iranian woman or a 9-year-old Iranian girl can speak through a 60-year-old Cleveland man.

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.

Events with Avatars

Friday, February 1, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.: Opening Reception at SPACES
Saturday, February 2, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Tower City Center
Saturday, February 9, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Cleveland Public Library, Main Branch
Saturday, February 16, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Cleveland Public Library, Main Branch
Saturday, March 9, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Cleveland Public Library, Main Branch
Saturday, April 6, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: TBA

More about this project:



Tower City Center
230 W. Huron Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44113

Related Projects:


This project is a part of the SPACES R&D Program.

The R&D (Research & Development) program invites artists, curators and other cultural producers to articulate their research and development of ideas and objects through a supported exhibition or project. These exhibitions and projects may be group, solo, or collaborative endeavors.

Artists, Apply for this Program.

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