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MIMA: the future museum of Culture 2.0 by the Canal

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2015-10-15 - March 2016 will see the opening of MIMA in part of the old Belle-Vue brewery by the Canal in Brussels. MIMA, the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art, is a contemporary art museum – the only one of its kind in Europe – that will take the public through a history of ‘Culture 2.0’.

Culture 2.0 is the version of culture that dawned with the Internet age and has broken away from the traditional codes of contemporary art to explore new worlds and establish a different relationship with the public.

The concept

MIMA will showcase art that breaks down barriers, offeringa mix of cultures: musical (punk rock, electro, hip hop, folk), graphic (graphic art, illustration, design), sporting (skateboard, surfing, extreme sports), artistic (film, visual art, performance art, comic art, tattoo, fashion), urban (graffiti, street art) and geek. In concrete terms, the museum will present artists whose choice not to confine their self-expression to the contemporary art community reflects a new way of thinking.

Most of these artists have backgrounds in ‘subcultures’ such as street art, hacking, skateboarding, graphic art or various musical genres, and some have achieved considerable prominence and influence in civil society on the fringes of the contemporary art scene. Seeing that this kind of art was not represented in Brussels, or indeed anywhere in Europe, Alice van den Abeele, Raphaël Cruyt and Michel and Florence de Launoit decided to set up MIMA, a museum of contemporary art dedicated to Culture 2.0.

The overall approach

With a floor space of 1,000 m2, divided into eight galleries and a multipurpose space, MIMA will have its own permanent collection: 40 works will be lent by an association of patrons, providing an historical survey from 2000 to the present day through works and artists that have reflected the cultural paradigm shift in society in the Internet age. Pride of place goes to work by European and American artists who have been instrumental in the emergence of this culture, such as Barry Mcgee, Parra, Invader, Banksy, Maya Hayuk, Blu and Boris Tellegen.

Alongside the permanent collection, MIMA will organise two exhibitions a year, which will either be thematic or showcase a major artist from this artistic scene. These exhibitions will present internationally recognised artists, but also the work of artists’ studios based in the local area and in Brussels, while maintaining the artistic standards crucial for a museum of international stature. For its opening, MIMA has scheduled the exhibition City Lights. Five artists from the US will headline MIMA’s first temporary exhibition: Maya Hayuk, Swoon, Momo and the duo of artists Faile. These iconic figures of Art 2.0 will create four installations specifically for the occasion.

MIMA will build bridges with different audiences, devise educational activities for school groups, associations and families, make the museum a forum for debate, liaise with the academic world, establish a dialogue with various museums and export its exhibitions abroad.

The location and the Canal

MIMA will boast an iconic location in Brussels: the former Bellevue breweries, an urban site that is perfect for the museum’s theme. Adjacent to the Meininger and Bel-Vue hotels, which opened in 2013 and 2015, and benefiting from operational synergies with the Meininger, MIMA will complete the development of this historic site.

MIMA will help to smarten up a public space, to breathe new life into the district, to strengthen its diversity and to put it on the map thanks to the 30,000 visitors the museum expects to draw in its first year. But it will also offer physical sustenance in addition to its cultural fare: there will be a restaurant which is intended to be a lively meeting place. The museum will also create eight jobs.

The people behind the project

Since 2005, Alice van den Abeele and Raphaël Cruyt have been running the A.L.I.C.E. gallery, within which they champion a political and contextual vision of art that is sometimes associated with Urban Art. Ranked among the top 100 ‘leading figures in Urban Art’, the A.L.I.C.E. gallery presents international artists who share an aesthetic that combines the codes of contemporary art with those of the subcultures. They include the likes of Barry McGee, Invader, Steve Powers, Sixe Paredes, Boris Tellegen and Parra. Across all genres and media, A.L.I.C.E. explores these new forms of contemporary expressions within and outside the gallery.

Michel and Florence de Launoit, who are passionate about contemporary art and urban art in particular, are, along with the A.L.I.C.E. Gallery, the brains behind this new project that is unique in Europe. Since 1992, they have dedicated their professional life to artistic output in various forms (television clips, films, documentaries, theatrical and musical work) through the companies Tourne Sol Production and Akamusic SA.

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