What: a 10 day gathering bringing together artist run spaces and artists who work in a highly localized context bringing contemporary art and cultural practices to complicated social settings.
Where: Centro de Cultivos Contemporáneos del Barrio, a space for consequential art, located in Poble-Sec, Barcelona.
When: To be decided
How: yet to be seen:–)
Hamdy Reda is an Egyptian artist. He is originally from the suburban working class neighbourhood of Ard El Lewa. He says that while going to university, him and his friends used to say they were from the neighboring Muhandesin, embarassed as they were to admit they were from Ard El Lewa. After school Hamdy travelled through europe for several years participating in art residencies and exhibitions, working towards a typically defined successful art carreer. But then he did something unusual. He went back to Ard El Lewa. Moved into the building owned by his mom and opened an art space in the streetlevel store-front downstairs. Now you must understand that the neighbourhood is very far from Cairo’s cosmopolitan city center. It is somewhere where tourists and foreigners don’t venture, considered of no interest. There are no art galleries or art institutions in this area. As part of this new space, Artellewa, Hamdy invites European and local artist to do residencies, interact with the neighbours and do projects with Ard El Lewa children which spend most of their day on the street.
Nick, Nick and Scott graduated from art school in Baltimore and started to explore the city systematically street by street. They realized that Baltimore is brutally segregated (ironically by the Martin Luther King beltway) and that they have no idea what is happening on the other side which consists maybe 60 or 70 percent of the territory and possibly 80 percent of the population. They decided they are going to walk or drive slowly through every single street, taking pictures, collecting objects and talking to people on the way.This pointless excercise proved to be quite a useful tool. By the end the three knew many neighbrourhood activists and social projects which were previously invisible to them. They continued to do a series of projects connecting to these people and connecting between them (many of the people they met didn’t know each other). Two of them ended up squatting an empty lot in what is called Baltimore’s “homeless campus” where all the prisons and the soup kitchens are concentrated. They started a small city farm which is going on untill this day. Under the name of Baltimore Development Cooperative (a take on the official Baltimore Development Corporation). Now working from an industrial comlex in another Baltimore neighborhood they continue to do social art projects, inviting artist to join them, creating long term connections with neighbours, working for food justice issues among others.
Nebojsa is an artist and an art administrator (curator) from Belgrade. Several years ago he got interested in the far suburbs of the city and started working on projects there with the neighbours that he met. He ended up falling in love with Kaludjerica, a suburban neighbourhood which was built completely without permits. There, he started a variety of projects, among them the collective mapping of the homemade sewage system constructed (a-legally) by the neighbours, sort of an anarchist sewage system, for better or for worse. He himself has moved to Kaludjerica, mostly because he found a small house with colored checkered floors. He has been inviting artists to propose and produce projects in the neighbourhood and some of them actually agreed. Vahida and myself spent 2 weeks there doing an collective embroidered ABC of the neighbourhood and we are now about to go back to do a project revolving around food fermentation.
Almut lives in Basel. After she lost her job she got really into jogging. She would jog through this beautiful forrest on the border between switzerland and germany. She started notice that there are a lot of immigrants from many countries hanging out in one clearing, seeming like they have nothing to do. She investigated and found out that right in the forrest there in an internment camp for refugee seekers. There was a little house right there in the clearing which was owned by the electric company. She managed to get hold of the house and there she openned Bblackboxx. Every day she puts out tables, chairs, coffee and tea. She invites artists from around the world to propose projects for this space working with the assylum seekers, trying to make sense of this harsh and complicated situation.
David Massy is a long time activist and videographer living in Israel. Sussya is an unrecognized village in the south Hebron mountains. The people in Sussya live in tents and lack the most basic infrastructure. It ocurred to David that what the people of Sussya need the most is for him to open an art/social center in a tent in the village. And so he did. He is inviting people from Israel and from around the world to propose projects that would benefit in some ways the inhabitants of Sussya, bringing attention and resources to the village and it’s struggle.
There are several more (still working on it:–)
Consequential Art – a gathering
The cultural landscape is shifting, a subtle change of values is occurring. The paradigm of conceptual art, with it’s emphases on the originality of disembodied ideas is making room for the buds of consequential art, which are popping up all over the globe. Conceptual art is read within the paradigm of “progress”, where one brilliantly orignial idea replaces the other. Consequential art is read within it’s local context. The question to be asked is not “is it original?”, but “what transformation or impact does it suppose within a social context?”.
So cultural action is then judged by it’s consequence and is no longer seen as purely discursive or textual. According to this new paradigm something original and brilliant might be deemed worthless, while the act of copying it and placing it where it might actually make a difference is considered brilliant.
In a world of peak noise where the wieghtlessneess of images and ideas makes them portable and of global reach, a rooted consequential action is neither a novelty nor an anachronism.The importance of an idea is placed once again within it’s social context and within it’s physicality and temporality. In other words, the chain of “brilliant concepts” which constitute contemporary art take up very little space and very little time. But when we judge an action by it’s consequence within a social context, we have to let it take up the time and the space it needs to actually transform something within that social and material space.
In different spots, artists are taking this new/old paradigm to heart, bringing the practices of artistic production into difficult socio-economic contexts, testing utopic and transformative ideas against the harsh realities of migration, occupation, and post-industrial poverty. Many of these artists have come to a similar conclusion: that a sustained presence is necessary in order to do anything of consequence. With this in mind, spaces and small organizations are founded and a long process of trial and error begins.
Consequential Art: a gathering proposes to bring some of these experimental agents of change to Barcelona, for 10 days. During these 10 days they will be able to exchange ideas and experiences, network, and present their work and their vision to the Barcelona public.
Can we be rooted, consequential and experimental at the same time?
The encounter will be an opportunity to debate such questions, raised by this new/old mode of cultural production.