Preview: Jon Rubin   01.27.13

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 bizarre scenario will play out a number of times at Tower City Center as part of The Foreigner (February 1 – April 6, 2013). This project employs Iranian citizens to channel themselves through mobile technology and Clevelanders acting as physical avatars in public spaces.

Jon Rubin is an enlister. Most of Rubin's projects bring in visitors, passers-by and partners as collaborators—from pigeon coops placed at museums where visitors are sent home with the homing pigeons who find their way back to the museum, to look-alikes who imposter the Danish Queen and Prince Consort carrying protest signs broadcasting the complaints or opinions of any Danish citizen.

Two of his more prominent projects function under the guise of restaurants. The Waflle Shop ( was a waffle-based diner and community-run talk show that live streamed over the internet. Conflict Kitchen ( is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict.

The Foreigner emerges from aspects from these two latter projects. Come to the opening reception at SPACES on February 1st to meet an Iranian with an unexpected face, or wander through Tower City Center on select dates February 2nd through April 6th. It will definitely be a moment to remember.

For more information on Jon Rubin and his past projects, visit

Image: John Rubin, The Waffle Shop, 2008–2012, restaurant and talk show, courtesy of the artist.
Image: John Rubin, The Waffle Shop, 2008–2012, restaurant and talk show, courtesy of the artist.

Keywords: felipe castelblanco, jon rubin, performance art, r&d, social intervention, social practice, the foreigner
Author: Christopher Lynn, Executive Director
Category: Artists


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