iMAL is an art center for digital cultures and technology, located in the center of Brussels. It combines the functions of a Contemporary Art Center and a Media Lab and is unique in its kind in Belgium.
The non-profit organisation was created in Brussels in 1999 by Yves Benard, with the objective to support artistic practices around the creative and critical use of technology and digital technologies. It mainly functioned as a place for encounters between practitioners and theoreticians in the realm of artistic -, scientific - and industrial innovation. In 2012, iMAL opened a Fablab, one of the first in the Brussels region and unique because of its specific focus on artistic practices.
Its most recent transition marked the start of a new phase in iMALs 20+ years of pioneer working. Thanks to support from the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 (ERDF) iMAL could double its infrastructure along the Canal in Brussels, which was opened in March 2020, only two weeks before the COVID pandemic broke out. In the summer of 2021 Yves Bernard, founder and first director of iMAL, took a step back and Lucia Garcia, former director of LABoral was appointed general director.
iMAL wants to formulate a solid response to a rapidly evolving digital society. The center will therefore not only provide space for (inter)national art practices that use, challenge and question innovative processes but will also be a place where technological developments and creativity are reflected and shared with a broader community. iMAL strives to create a program that contextualizes these developments and inspires and encourages citizens to actively participate in the latest digital cultures, as well as empower them to be critical of the challenges associated with the digital revolution.
A 4-LEGGED PROGRAM
With its programme, iMAL proposes a multi-voiced and transdisciplinary approach to contemporary issues. In order to structure this, its activities are divided into four, strongly interconnected sub-areas:
1) LAB: RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION
4) PUBLIC PROGRAM
1) LAB: RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION
RESIDENCIES, PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION
In its core, iMAL is a laboratory and a workspace for artists in the field of digital art and interdisciplinary projects. iMAL stimulates experiments, offers residencies, supports development- and research processes, as well as the production and dissemination of works. iMAL thus offers guidance along all aspects of the artistic practice by sharing space, knowledge, expertise and financial support. The aim here is to further professionalize artistic practices in the field and to guide the artists through their entire journey - from local to global.
GUIDED TOURS, WORKSHOPS, MASTERCLASSES
Sharing of knowledge and ‘learning’ are important values that shape our field. iMAL wants to use the artistic energy to create moments of reflection around major themes and to give our audience the opportunity to deepen their insights and introduce new concepts of thinking, acting and learning.
iMAL offers a specific educational program around its exhibitions and the labs that bridge the gap between the artistic practices and a broader audience. As part of our Learnscapes, we also pay specific attention to theoretical reflection and development of practical knowledge to support artists, cultural producers and professionals from different disciplinary backgrounds in the form of lectures, workshops and masterclasses.
The aim is to facilitate access for anyone interested in the development of new art practices and working with technological means. iMAL offers them a rich array of entry points, in a safe, peer-to-peer environment.
As part of its learnscapes, iMAL will also reinforce its partnerships with schools, (part time) art education, universities and research centers. By ensuring a close coordination with the existing curricula, iMAL’s educational offer will complement those trajectories.
iMAL’s exhibitions offer visibility to the artists in the field, to projects that grow in our LAB and works we (co)produce. Every two years iMAL organises a larger, international exhibition in co-production with peer organizations, in close cooperation with experienced curators. The exhibitions also form a (thematic) basis to the learnscapes.
Given the very limited number of places worldwide dedicated to technology-based art, iMAL’s offer - a well equipped exhibition space (700 sqm) and specialised technical staff - is unique. It makes iMAL a well appreciated partner in the field and beyond. iMAL’s rooted and long year relationship also opens the possibility to have the (young, local) productions created in iMAL circulate among major international venues and festivals.
4) PUBLIC PROGRAM
PERFORMANCES, FESTIVALS AND GUEST PROGRAM
The final leg in our programme structure is the Public Program. This is complementary to the activities that are developed within the LAB, the Learnscapes and the Exhibitions and supports their public accessibility. Varied activities will be organized at regular intervals, such as performances, screenings, presentations or a festival.
This program will involve collaboration with existing local networks and initiatives with whom we are joining forces and shaping this program.