Digital Mourning, conversation with Neïl Beloufa & Pierre-Yves Desaive

Exploring the future of NFT's in presence of artist Neïl Beloufa and digital art specialist Pierre Yves Desaive

Neïl Beloufa is one the most powerful voices of the generation of artists born in the 1980s. His artistic research focuses on contemporary society and on how it is represented and mediated by digital interaction, often with the aim of exposing the control mechanisms. In his videos, feature films, sculptures, and technologically complex installations, Beloufa plays on the viewer’s sensory experience, inviting them to reappraise their own beliefs and stereotypes. He addresses present-day issues that range from power relationships to digital surveillance, to data collection and nationalistic ideologies, to identity and a post-colonial understanding of the world.

This conversation with digital art specialist Pierre-Yves Desaive will examine the evolution of Beloufa’s work, and its commentary on how digital media reshapes our experience of art and its impact on our daily lives.

Beloufa is currently preparing two solo shows at respectively C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G, Brussels and Mendes Wood DM, Brussels. The opening will be in two parts : 22 January opening at Mendes Wood DM (2pm-9pm) and on 29 January at C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G (10am-6pm).


The conversation will be in French.



  • 18 :30 – 19 :00 > Welcome
  • 19 :00 – 20 :00 > Conference
  • 20 :00 > Bar is open


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Don’t hesitate to register a non-member to come along.

Speakers :


Neïl Beloufa (1985, Paris) lives and works in Paris.
The multi-layered practice of French-Algerian artist, Neïl Beloufa occupies the space between various dichotomies. Reality and fiction, cause and effect, presence and absence are the polarities between which the artist’s work begins to take form. Developing his reflection on these by combining various media, including sculpture, video and painting into single installations, Beloufa masterly manages to deconstruct our contemporary systems of belief by moving between the real and the imaginative.

Situating himself between these polarities, Beloufa’s practice is deeply reflective. Examining established structures of power, incidentally, those within the “creative economy”, whilst dwelling on the authority that is afforded by artists in today’s society, Beloufa eliminates his dominant role by awarding agency to actors or materials, informing one another and coexisting in installations as though they are actors and props on a set. Rejecting the alias of sculptor, or any alignment to a particular set of practices or creative processes, Beloufa works primarily as an editor, constructing scenarios to facilitate intersections between different meanings that viewers might build independently.

Beloufa has exhibited at Venice Biennale, MoMA, Palais de Tokyo, Hangar Bicocca and K11 among many other renowned institutions.


Pierre-Yves Desaive is an art historian (University of Liège) and curator for contemporary art at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Exhibition curator, teacher at the National School of Visual Arts (La Cambre, Brussels), he acquired the Belgian Association of Art Critics (ABCA) and regularly contributes to publications on contemporary art (correspondent in Belgium for Flash Art). Member of the Digital Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture, he is interested in the relationship between art and technology, in particular the use of digital media for artistic purposes.

President of the Belgian section of AICA from 2009 to 2012, member of ICOM, he regularly publishes on contemporary art and media art in various publications, print media or catalogs.


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Marcel Broodthaers and R.H. Quaytman exhibitions

Guided tours at the WIELS Museum for TheMerode Members 

In collaboration with WIELS, TheMerode is organizing a guided tour with Charlotte Friling, curator for WIELS , for the exhibition of “industrial poems” by Marcel Broodthaers and the solo show by R.H. Quaytman followed by a drink.

In an unprecedented exhibition, elaborated in close collaboration with the Succession Marcel Broodthaers, WIELS presents the entire series of 36 main motifs of the plaques by Broodthaers, while also highlighting further unknown versions and variations, to reveal the artist’s idiosyncratic take on seriality and the reproducible, rare artwork and image. The exhibition also features unique prototypes, as well as a large group of drawings or preparatory sketches for the plaques, all in relation to a selection of ‘Open Letters’ by the artist.

WIELS is the main center for contemporary art in Brussels. A space for innovative ideas and creative experiences, it is located in a distinctive architectural building in the heart of the European capital. It has a mission to provide new perspectives and stimulate all senses through a daring and cutting-edge program. Initiated by art lovers, WIELS hosts temporary exhibitions of both established and emerging artists, shares and exchanges ideas through their international residency program, and holds numerous workshops for a wide array of audiences.

Timings :

  • 11.00 : welcome drink
  • 11.30 : start tour
  • 12.30 : end of the tour


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Conference with James Vincent

The Importance of Narrative for Founders

TheMerode is excited to welcome another inspirational speaker to the club. James Vincent has been behind some of the most captivating narratives for game-changing companies over the last two decades. From working alongside Steve Jobs to build Apple’s narrative and iconic products to helping visionary founders such as Brian Chesky at Airbnb, Evan Spiegel at Snapchat, Sara Menker at Gro Intelligence, Nicolas at Sorare, and Jack Conte & Sam Yam at Patreon.  

By working with some of the world’s most loved companies, Vincent has a unique perspective on brands and how to construct the right narrative to build them into sustainable businesses that people can connect with. Vincent is also the Founder and CEO at FNDR, a company whose mission is to help Founders align their voice and vision to craft the right story that will guide and shape their futures.

Defining the role of your company in the new world

James has been living in Brussels for the past year and is working with European based founders such as Nick at Sorare, Jean-Charles at Alan, Antoine at Yubo, Adrian at Cowboy, Antoine at Zenly, Sacha at Yubo, Nicholas at 360Learning, and Olivier at Hopium to name a few.  

In this thought-provoking conference, members will be able to learn about storytelling for start-ups as well as bring their businesses into the conversation to build on unique and practical perspectives. 


  • Welcome: 6:30pm-7pm
  • Conference: 7pm-8pm
  • Bar open: 8pm


If you would like to attend this conference, please subscribe below.  



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Panel talk Women's Day

Annelies Verlinden Minister of the Interior, Institutional Reform and democratic renewal, Isabelle Arpin our in house chef of Ciao and Elodie Ouedraogo and Olivia Borlee, Olympic gold winners share with us their interpretation and understanding of feminitude.

Recent global events have made it very clear that female leadership stands out in many ways. For International Women’s Day, we are bringing together diverse voices from female leadership around the world to share their experiences at TheMerode.

We will ask four exceptional women to give their views on female style, skills and competencies to see how society gains from those differences.

For International Women’s Day, we are bringing together diverse voices from female leadership around the world to share their experiences at TheMerode.

About the speakers :

It took 42.54 seconds for Elodie Ouedraogo and Olivia Borlee to race to Olympic silver in the 4x100m at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. A subsequent doping ban turned that silver into gold eight years later, underscoring the quartet’s status as national heroines. As their careers as athletes wound down, the two turned the number representing that winning performance into “42/54”, a clothing brand that embodies style, functionality and sustainable design. After five years of success, “42/54” became UNRUN, an activewear venture with the potential to become the duo’s second gold medal-winning performance.

Annelies Verlinden is Minister of the Interior and of Institutional Reform. In 2001 she graduated as Master of Law at the Catholic University of Leuven, before obtaining a degree in European Law at the Université Catholique de Louvain. After her studies, she joined the law firm DLA Piper in Belgium as Partner Public & Administrative Law. Since 2014, she was Co-Country Managing Partner in the same law firm. She has been Minister of the Interior, Institutional Reform and democratic renewal in the De Croo government since 1 October 2020.

Renowned French chef Isabelle Arpin took an unexpected route into gastronomy. After studying finance in Paris, she was helping a restauranteur friend when she discovered her vocation for food. Back in her native North, she obtained a diploma at the Dunkirk cooking school, to find herself, a few years later, in Ostend, where she remained for over 15 years. Sharing the same values as The Merode: a focus on education, helping young entrepreneurs and catalysing social change, in March 2022 she became the head chef at TheMerode’s restaurant, Ciao. Under her post,, she will mentor rising Italian talent in the culinary world, bringing emerging chefs into the Ciao Restaurant for a taste of head chef experience.

The panel talk will be moderated by Hakima Darhmouch,  a journalist from Brussels, graduated in communication. In 2014, she obtained an Executive Master in Management at Solvay Business School. She started working in radio in 1999 and joined the RTL editorial team a few months later. Journalist, deputy editor-in-chief, presenter of the most watched TV news in French-speaking Belgium for 12 years, Hakima also covers political news… In 2018, she makes an important professional turn by joining the public service. She joined the management committee of RTBF where she was in charge of the “Culture” department for over three years. In 2021, Hakima Darhmouch decided to take up new professional challenges in line with her personal aspirations. She is now a communication consultant. Since 2021, she also sits on two Boards of Directors: Bozar and the Atomium.



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France and the European Union in the face of international crises with Michel Barnier

One year on from Brexit and with less than five weeks to go until the French presidential election, what is France’s role now in Europe and Europe’s role in the world?

With five weeks to go before the presidential election in France, TheMerode welcomes Michel Barnier to present his vision of the issues at stake and of Europe’s current role in the world. With twelve months now passed since Brexit, he will review the economic and political impact of Britain’s break from the Union on both Belgium and France.

Michel Barnier entered politics in 1973, first in Savoie, then at the national and European level. He was elected the youngest French deputy for the first time in 1978. A seasoned Minister (Environment, European Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Food) Barnier has twice been European Commissioner, first for Regional Policy then Internal Market and Financial Services.

In 2016, he became chief negotiator for the European Union, in charge of all negotiations related to Brexit and leading the task force to both finalise them and decide on the shape of a future relationship with the UK.

While unsuccessful as a candidate at the 2021 Republican convention for the 2022 presidential election, he is now campaigning for the right-wing candidate Valérie Pécresse as Advisor for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Europe and France are both at a turning point in their history. Michel Barnier, with his national and international experience, is a privileged witness of the French and European political life of the last four decades. He will share his analysis with us and answer our questions over lunch on 11 March.

Important notice:

  • Once registered you will receive an invoice from TheMerode. Your registration will be finalised once the payment has been received.


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#Break the bias: Women in AI

As part of EU AI week, join us in a discussion with policymakers, business leaders, the European AI research community, and the start-up ecosystem to address the gap between policies and practice and discuss joint action to build an AI ecosystem that is as diverse and inclusive as the societies we aspire to create!

Women are 13 times less likely to file for a technology patent than men. The OECD estimates that just 7% of ICT patents in G20 countries are obtained by women, and only 10% of technology start-up companies seeking venture capital are funded by women.  

 What can we learn from women role models in the AI start-up space about creating a more gender-inclusive tech sector – both through their development of technology that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, and through their promotion of a more gender-inclusive tech sector?

This event will consist of a high-level opening and two roundtables followed by a networking reception. 

This event is organised in partnership with:   


High-Level Opening Segment 

Petra Desutter,Deputy Prime Minister, Belgian Federal Government  

Nicole Foster, Director AWS Global AI/ML and Canada Public Policy, Amazon Web Services 

Eva Kaili,Vice President, European Parliament  

Renaud Vedel, Prefect Coordinator of the National AI strategy of France 


Roundtable 1: Gender Equality in the AI Ecosystem – Where Are We and Where do We Want To Go? 

Nathanaël Ackerman, Managing Director AI4Belgium Coalition an Digital Mind for Belgium 

Luis Aranda, Policy Analyst Artificial Intelligence OECD 

Bart Becks, Chairman E-Health Valley, Chairman EURACTIV Media Network and European Innovation Council Board Member 

Lucy Berger, EU Delegation to the UN 

Emilie Daversin, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder VO2 Group Investor, Leia Capital 

Mieke De Ketelaere, Adjunct Professor of Artificial Intelligence Vlerick Business School 

Dr. Alzbeta Krausova, moderator Legal Scholar 

Alessandra Sala, Global President Women in AI 

Nathalie Smuha, Researcher KU Leuven Faculty of Law 

Cheryl Miller Van Dijck,Director Digital Leadership Institute, Head of EU Delegation to the G20 Women20 

Severine Waterbley Interlude, Chairwoman of the FPS Economy Management Committee 


 Roundtable 2: Women Leaders in the Start Up AI ecosystem 

Oliviana Bailey, Head of Brand & Community EscherCloud 

Mathilde Bras, Expert on Responsible Digital Policies, Member of the Hugging Face Policy Community 

Kat Borlongan, Chief Impact Officer Contentsquare European Innovation Council, Board Member 

Dr. Coralie Ebert,CTO and Co-Founder MeNow! 

Stéphan-Éloïse Gras, Executive Director Digital Africa 

Laurence Jacobs, Business Relationship Officer Agoria 

Caroline Lair,Founder The Good AI 

Ségolène Martin, CEO Kantify Women In AI 

Nagia Orduna, Moderator, Manager Solutions Architecture Amazon Web Services 


Closing Remarks 

Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality 

Wim De Waele, Execution Chairman The Beacon 

Julie Foulon, CEO Girleek 


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Rob Hopkins: From ‘What if’ to ‘What Next’?

If there was ever a time for fresh thinking, for being bold, for being visionary and imaginative – for reimagining everything – this it is. So let’s get together and reshape the #worldwewant. Let’s start with our ability to ask the “What if?” question 

Imagination is central to empathy, to creating better lives, to envisioning and then enacting a positive future. Yet imagination is also demonstrably in decline at precisely the moment when we need it most. In this passionate exploration, Rob Hopkins asks why imagination is in decline, and what we must do to revive and reclaim it. Once we do, there is no end to what we might accomplish. 

From What Is to What If is a call to action to reclaim and unleash our collective imagination, told through the stories of individuals and communities around the world who are doing it now, as we speak, and witnessing often rapid and dramatic change for the better. 

And if there was ever a time when we needed that ability, it is now

We do have the capability to effect dramatic change, Hopkins argues, but we’re failing because we’ve largely allowed our most critical tool to languish: human imagination. As defined by social reformer John Dewey, imagination is the ability to look at things as if they could be otherwise. The ability, that is, to ask What if?  


Rob Hopkins is a cofounder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network and the author of multiple books. The most recent one:  From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want.

He presents the podcast series ‘From What If to What Next‘ which invites listeners to send in their “what if” questions and then explores how to make them a reality.  In 2012, he was voted one of the Independent’s top 100 environmentalists and was on Nesta and the Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals. Hopkins has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought and A Good Read, in the French film phenomenon Demain and its sequel Apres Demain, and has spoken at TEDGlobal and three TEDx events.

An Ashoka Fellow, Hopkins also holds a doctorate degree from the University of Plymouth and has received two honorary doctorates from the University of the West of England and the University of Namur. In 2020 he was a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Sustainable Behaviour Change. He is a keen gardener, a founder of New Lion Brewery in Totnes, and a director of Totnes Community Development Society, the group behind Atmos Totnes, an ambitious, community-led development project. He blogs at and and tweets at @robintransition.



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Climate change – the Brain Paradox

Why doesn’t our brain process climate change 

Professeur Olivier De Schutter, UN Rapporteur, brings together the Belgian Federal Minister for Climate Zakia Khattabi, the social psychologist Benoît Galand and the media & communications specialist Christophe Barzal, for a solution-driven discussion to address the keyquestion:   how can we further activate behavioural changes that  contribute to the mitigation of climate change?   

The debate will follow the  screening of the fascinating  new documentary film: “Climat: pourquoi notre cerveau fait l’Autruche”.  Co-authored by Olivier De Schutter and Nicolas Sayde, this 52-minutes long film produced by ARTE and Les Films à la Patte explains how our brain reacts to information about climate change.  

It explores how our brains are wired to deny certain risk such as the environmental ugency. We will discover how we develop strategies to evade “cognitive dissonance”, i.e., the psychological suffering caused by the gap between what we know about climate change and how we act in our daily routines.   

That film argues that, only by understanding how our brain works when confronted with disturbing scientific information, can we design strategies, based on the “nudging” of behaviour, that will allow us to overcome inertia in our ways of producing and consuming. 


Prof. Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.   

Olivier is the co-author of the film presented.  He is a professor at UCLouvain and at Sciences Po. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Food Security between 2008 and 2014 and a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights between 2015 and 2020. Since 2020 he is the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty.  

He has been actively involved in the ecological transition and promoted the cause of agro-ecology as the UN Special Rapporteur on Food Security. He is currently working to reconcile ecological transformation and social justice. His most recent book deals with the role of social innovations in the ecological and socially fair transition. 


Zakia Khattabi, Federal Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal. 

  Ms Khattabi has a basic training of social worker, supplemented by a license in social work. At university, Ms Khattabi’s greatest interest was in the theories of the social construction of reality.  

  The social phenomena, our conception of the world, the rules of our societies are constructed, created and then institutionalized. From the same train of thought, deconstruction and reconstruction of reality are possible as desired. That statement is at the heart Ms Khattabi’s own social and political engagement. 

  Ms Khattabi has  taken paths in which she has been able to link insight into our society (through research) with action (first as an activist, then in politics). She was first elected in 2009. During that first legislature, Ms Khattabi was leader of the Senate faction in the Belgian Parliament. In May 2014 Ms Khattabi was elected as a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives. 

  In March 2015, Ms Khattabi was elected co-chair of her political party. In May 2019 she was re-elected to the House of Representatives. At the end of her mandate as co-chairman of her party, she did not run for re-election and in October 2020 she was appointed Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal in the Belgian federal government (2020-2024). 


Prof. Benoit Galand, Professor UCL 

Benoît Galand has a doctorate in psychology and is a professor in educational sciences at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL). He is director of the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Socialisation, Education and Training (GIRSEF) and an associate member of the Research Group on School Environments (GRES, Canada). Professor Galand is the author of numerous publications in international journals and scientific books. He also acts as a trainer or consultant for several international public services and associations, and is regularly called upon by the media.  


 Christopher Barzal, Partner, Akkanto 

He is a lecturer at IHECS, Brussels and a Partner at Akkanto, one of the leading communication consulting firm. Christopher is a Communication Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the political sector and the broadcast media industry.  Skilled in Public Affairs (Executive Master from IHECS, Brussels), Marketing (Master from ICHEC, Brussels) Media Relations, Change Management, Journalism, and Strategic Communications, Christopher will share his expertise on the role of communication in supporting changing behaviors. 



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Guided tour of Sol Lewitt’s exhibition and Galila Barzilai Hollander’s collection at the Jewish Museum of Belgium

The Jewish Museum of Belgium opens its doors for a new exhibition devoted to the iconic American artist, as well as to Galila Barzilai Hollander’s collection

The Jewish Museum of Belgium is pleased to welcome TheMerode members to discover their new exhibition devoted to the American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) and the exhibition Paper works from Galila Barzilai Hollander’s collection. The visit of the exhibition will be held by curator and director Barbara Cuglietta and president Philippe Blondin and followed by a drink.

Step Inside The World of Sol LeWitt

Through a unique selection of Wall Drawings, works on paper, gouaches, structures and archives dating from the 1960s to the 2000s, Sol Lewitt’s exhibition aims to highlight diversity and unity in his prolific production. It will present a double “first”: an exploration of his Jewish heritage and an investigation of his links with Belgium. It will also be accompanied by the launch of the new Sol LeWitt application created by Microsoft, for users to further explore the artist’s world. 

Sol LeWitt was an iconic American artist whose work helped to establish both Minimalism and Conceptual Art. LeWitt’s practice was based primarily within his own intellect, establishing a rubric of formal instructions which his assistants followed to create the works. Some of the artist’s most integral pieces are his Wall Drawings, in which he explored myriad variations of applying drawn lines onto walls. 

“When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art,” he wrote in his seminal 1967 essay Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.

The second part of the visit will lead us to “Works on Paper” exhibition that offers an incursion into the teeming world of Galila Barzilai Hollander, a Belgian collector born in Tel Aviv. For fifteen years, this extraordinary personality has been assembling works of contemporary art in a collection that tells the story of his own story: implicit in the works brought together, there is an imperious desire to reinvent himself. As he put it: “A collection is a state of mind.” 

We will then enjoy a brief introduction to the Museum’s architectural project followed by a conversation over a glass.


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Morning talk with Hakima Darhmouch x Thomas Dermine

On the 1st of April, Hakima Darhmouch kicks off her new Friday morning talks series with her very first guest Thomas Dermine, the State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments. Learn more about his vision for 2030, and how we actually get there.

Every other Friday, journalist Hakima Darhmouch will wake up your brain at TheMerode with an enlivening discussion around our collective future. With her expert interviewing skills on hand, Hakima meets thought leaders from economics, politics and the environment to culture and tech. Come equipped with your own questions, and join us for coffee and debate, from 8 am. We’ll always wrap up at 9 am sharp to ensure you are able to make your morning meetings. 

About Hakima :

Hakima Darhmouch graduated in communication. In 2014, she obtained an Executive Master in Management at Solvay Business School. She made her debut in radio in 1999, and a few months later joined the team of reporters at RTL. As a journalist, deputy editor-in-chief and presenter of the most watched news programme in French-speaking Belgium for 12 years, Hakima also covers political news. In 2018, she made a major professional change by joining the public service. She joined the management committee of RTBF where she was in charge of the “Culture” department for more than three years. In 2021, Hakima Darhmouch decided to take up new professional challenges in line with her personal aspirations. She is now a communication consultant at akkanto. Since 2021, she is board member  at Bozar and the Atomium.


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