Praxis and Context: Art, Pedagogy and Community
Praxis and Context: Art, Pedagogy and Community
Praxis and Context: Art, Pedagogy and Community ©2014. “Praxis and Context: Art, Pedagogy and Community” FOUNDATION CASA TRES PATIOS– ANTIOQUIA, COLOMBIA Cra. 50A # 63-31 – T. 57-4-5717798 www.casatrespatios.org Spanish Edition 2014 ISBN -978-958-57744-3-8 This Edition 2016 ISBN 978-958-57744-6-9 “Fundación Casa Tres Patios” Printed by: Especial Impresores S.A.S Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, using any method whatsoever, without prior written permission from Foundation Casa Tres Patios.
C3P DIRECTOR Tony Evanko C3P GENERAL COORDINATOR Sonia Sequeda MAIN AUTHOR Sara Lazarín EDITORS Tony Evanko Sonia Sequeda Sara Lazarín Adriana Aguilar COORDINATOR Sara Lazarín STYLE CORRECTION Adriana Aguilar / Bruce Brantley TRANSLATION Tjebbe Donner / Tony Evanko EDITORIAL DESIGN Fercho Just / thinjust.com Doris Álvarez (layout) PHOTOGRAPHY Fercho Just / thinjust.com
COLLABORATORS Daniel Gomez / Paula Villa Helena López Silvana Mejía Javier Naranjo Paola Peña Carlos Uribe SUPPORT FOR PUBLICATION ArtEdu Ministry of Culture of Colombia CASA TRES PATIOS SUPPORTERS Hivos DOEN Arts Collaboratory Mayor of Medellín Secretary of Culture of Medellín Foundation Fraternidad Medellín
Paola Peña Ospina
Working without a Recipe: The culinary arts and artistic self-management
Between the Personal and the Collective: Human relations in self-managed artistic practices
Territory and Context: The basic elements of artistic self-management
Alternative Spaces and Artistic Practice: The exercise of creating a new map for the arts in Medellín
Uncertainty: In a complex world, uncertainty is the constant
Art Questioned: Contemporary Artistic Practices
Taking Pedagogy Out of Schools
Art and Pedagogy: A Praxis in Context
Literature, Informal Education and Vulnerable Groups: Some ideas based on an experience in a women’s prison in Mexico D.F.
1…2…3 Patios: Notes on Education at Casa Tres Patios
So We Don’t Lose the Plot
Casa Tres Patios Pedagogical Program
Daniel Alberto Gómez and Paula Andrea Villa
Cauldrons, Pots and Pans: The commun-ity is cooked between the pots and pans
History of Casa Tres Patios
Description of Photographs
A primordial human characteristic is our capacity for expressing ourselves through words, but words can only communicate something when they have a shared meaning among human beings. And how, we must ask, did man learn to share meaning? Contemporary archaeologists and anthropologists have found traces of a recently arrived homo sapiens on the European continent: an ivory flute, an ancient Venus, beautiful and delicate horses and lions carved from stone; these traces contrast with their absence when we study homo neanderthalensis, who occupied European territory before homo sapiens, and who ended up becoming extinct while the latter multiplied. It has also been discovered that both species had similar skills for hunting and manufacturing tools, for following the Earth’s cycles during their daily lives and that during the European winters, neanderthalensis even had physical advantages over homo sapiens (BBC, 2009). In spite of this, neanderthalensis didn’t survive. So the question arises: can a difference, an advantage, be found in these delicate objects crafted by homo sapiens? Let’s look at this more closely. These objects have been found in locations 30 to 40 kilometers apart. This means that small communities, without permanent contact, manufactured and probably traded the same type of objects. Archeologists have concluded that Homo sapiens had extensive social networks and also exchanged ideas and symbols of identity (BBC, 2009). So, to answer the question: yes and no. Those small objects, those primitive art forms, helped consolidate a human community that went beyond each individual tribe, not in and of themselves, but because of the meaning they had for the human beings that manufactured and shared them. Art therefore allows the creation of a tissue that joins men together over distances and makes them stronger. The expansion of human life and the growth of human communities do not just depend on physical food; it depends, perhaps to a greater measure, on symbols and images. All the elements present at the dawn of humanity - shared meaning, language and communication, art forms, human communities, exchanges of symbols and ideas - are present in different ways throughout this book, in which Foundation Casa Tres Patios seeks to offer a farreaching perspective, a comprehensive reflection based on its own particular experiences, not only emphasizing its uniqueness, rather, trying to look beyond itself. Besides the chapters written within Casa Tres Patios [C3P], by Sara Lazarín, several authors have presented their reflections and narrations on self-management, and independent or alternative experiences related to art, pedagogy, literature and community practices.
The idea is to share knowledge acquired through practice and to provoke in you, the reader, movements, questions and reflections around the topics shared and presented in this book. Work on this book began with the idea that symbolism moves in diverse, far-reaching fields, one of which is the culinary arts, an area that combines symbolism with necessity; two important texts deal with this issue, and open and close the book. The first, written by Paola Peña, defines several relationships between the arts and cooking, emphasizing artistic self-management. The final chapter, written by Daniel Gomez and Paula Andrea Villa, offers a highly symbolic community experience brought about by food. These two chapters emphasize the fact that art and food share important elements, and one of these is that both are made for others. Artists, artisans and cooks create so that others may enjoy – while stealing no pleasure from the creator for sharing and creating social ties. After the first chapter, Casa Tres Patios proposes that, in its experience, self-managed artistic spaces are always marked by three components: context, persons and uncertainty, keeping in mind that these spaces are always inserted into a given context, with people to imagine and put them into practice, people who are invariably subject to the uncertainty inherent to human relationships and to life itself. With regard to context, the Foundation as such has some unique characteristics. Its name arose originally from an architectural feature: the original house, located in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of the city of Medellín, had three internal patios; our current installations have only two. But we find the third patio when we cross our threshold and put our feet on the street outside. This is the patio that has the greatest effect upon what happens inside. Our relationship with it provides us with guidelines to follow since, from the start of the project, we have sought to give it an impact that extends beyond the people that work directly within it. In this sense, pedagogy and community artistic practice become a fundamental factor for defining our relationships with the elements that make up the entire Foundation. This vision is complemented by a chapter from Carlos Uribe that presents a detailed panorama of alternative artistic spaces in Medellín, helping us understand the context in which the House’s activities take place and their relation to the city’s current cultural situation.
The following chapter asks questions about art, not so much about its conceptual and abstract definition, but about the evolution that has given rise to contemporary art, within which there is space for a questioned kind of art that encompasses community, pedagogical, multi-disciplinary and multi-interpretative practices. After this chapter, Silvana Mejia invites us to break down the prejudices that isolate art education and reflections on pedagogy. With this in mind, she introduces a distinction between schooling, education and pedagogy in order to connect the latter with art through the concept of formation (bildung), indicating a need to conceptualize artistic pedagogical work and give it its rightful place alongside perceptions about artistic endeavors. So, Casa Tres Patios considers the touch points between art and pedagogy around which most of C3P’s current projects revolve. Sara Lazarín points out the political nature of education, especially in Latin America, and highlights, above all, the need for pedagogy in the arts that will respond to the context in which it is developed. As both the arts and pedagogy are imagined and created out of the context in which they exist, they represent a potential opportunity filled with meaning and connecting people’s experiences and everyday lives. In turn, the chapter written by Helena Lopez, shares her experiences of a pedagogical-creative process (that included literature and the visual arts) for promoting empowerment and cultural citizenship among women marginalized by the educational and penitentiary systems. After this, C3P talks about formation as a continuous and unfinished process carried out beyond strictly pedagogical spaces and that supplies a context, introducing the topic of the relationship between artistic and cultural management and power. Finally, some examples are presented that illustrate the use of essential tools and relationships in self-managed spaces. The writer Javier Naranjo shares his experience within the Laboratorio del Espíritu (Laboratory of the Spirit, in Pantanillo) library and community center where, through words, reading and writing, a space for listening, understanding and collective memories has been woven. In turn, C3P shares its experiences and reflections which lead to the formulation of its evolving pedagogical program, and which focuses its attention, beyond works of art, on processes, conversations and a capacity to ask questions.
Finally, Paula Villa and Daniel Gomez present us with an experience â€“ Cocineros Moravia (Cooks from Moravia) - that began as a social project focused on improving the nutrition of children in one of MedellĂnâ€™s most marginal neighborhoods that became an almost magical event, where the routine of preparing soup for a community turned into a ritual of cohabitation and coexistence. Thus, theoretical reflections and shared experiences that combine different perspectives on art and education implicit within the search for the underpinnings of these spaces become the model. In this collection of essays C3P attempts to open a dialog on the questions, issues and possibilities for people involved organizing, executing or participating in such spaces. It is hoped that by sharing these thoughts this dialog will enrich both the experience of those involved in C3P and the experiences others involved in similar projects.
The idea is to share knowledge acquired through 14
practice and to provoke in you, the reader, movements, questions and reflections around the topics shared and presented in this book. 15
Working Without a Recipe: The culinary arts and artistic self-management
Historically there are many intersections between art and food that can be analyzed in different ways. Following Elisabeth Harung (as cited in Lozano, 2013), we will examine three. The first relates to food as a topic for artistic representation. Examples include still lifes from the Italian Baroque period, such as those painted by Caravaggio to those by the father of modern painting: Cézanne. Recognizing the new artistic paradigms of the 20th Century, food appears represented in works of pop art: from Warhol’s iconic Campbell Soup Can (1962), to Claes Oldenburg’s sculptural representations of junk food. A second intersection relates to food as material for creation. Examples include Sandy Skuglad’s photos in Food Still Life (1978) in which, imitating camouflage, he places food on a background, which it blends in with; Felix Gonzalez Torres’ beautiful work called Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), where a mountain of candy represents the weight of his partner who died of AIDS, and where the public can take pieces from it, little by little, just like the disease took Ross; Wim Delvoye’s Marble Floors (1999), in which salami is used to build a floor that imitates forms more associated with tiles or carpets. We could also mention Vik Muniz’s famous chocolate paintings or the work of the Russian artists Blue Noses, with their Kitchen Suprematism series (2005), wherein Malévich’s paintings are appropriated and turned into suprematist plates of food. Finally, it is worth mentioning the work of Daniel Spoerri who experimented with food like few others. In his well-known tableauxpièges (snare pictures) he used utensils and leftover food, fixing them to the table where they were consumed, thus creating assemblages operating as two-dimensional pictorial work similar to Duchamp’s ready-mades. Spoerri was also a precursor to the Eat Art movement, and his work leads to a third intersection: the artist as cook or host. Not only did he produce work where food was used as material, but in his quest created a work like the Hungarian Meal (1963), wherein the artist cooked dishes from different nationalities for the public during ten days, within the context of the exhibition 723 Kitchen Utensils at the J Gallery (Paris), converting it into a restaurant and giving rise to the first dinner-happenings in restaurant-galleries, which marks the development of Eat Art. Within this third trend there are three more examples that will expand the panorama even further. Allen Ruppersberg’s Al’s Café (1969), was a café promoted as a meeting place that opened every Thursday afternoon;
where one could find coffee and beer, and where his assemblage menus, inedible dishes made by Ruppersberg and offered at the price of an ordinary meal, were sold, all with the idea of democratizing art and letting everyone take a little bit home. Another, Food Restaurant (1971), promoted by Gordon Matta-Clark along with Carol Goodden and located in the middle of SoHo in New York, operated as a cooperative of artists, musicians, dancers, poets, painters, film-makers, photographers, etc., that would become chefs for a day and design and cook that day’s menu. A third, final and more contemporary example, is the case of chef Ferrán Adrià, and his restaurant El Bulli, who, with his controversial participation in the 2007 version of Documenta in Kassel, introduced the topic of food as art and how the artistic environment can elevate certain actions to the status of art, legitimizing itself during a period in which generalized aestheticization is dominant. These examples are just a few in the spectrum of relationships that can be established between art and food throughout history, and that lead us to propose another relationship linked to the following questions: Can self-managed artistic practice, i.e. art and places for the consumption of food or cooking, have anything in common? How can we understand the way in which self-managed artistic spaces work? Is there a recipe for working in art? Can culinary practices help us understand artistic practices? In attempting to answer these questions, it is worth asking: what is understood by self-management and how has this concept changed throughout history? We can start, by examining its etymology. -The term “self-management” (auto-gestión in Spanish) comes from a translation of the Serbo-Croatian samoupravlje, composed of samo, equivalent to the Greek prefix auto (by itself) and upravlje that translates as management. From the Serbo-Croatian, the main language of Yugoslavia, it moved to French, and with the same spelling (plus the accent on the final vowel) to Spanish” (Iturraspe, quoted in Hudson, 2010, p. 581). Self-management, as suggested by its etymology, results from the conjunction of auto, that has to do with oneself, and management (gestión), that speaks of doing, originating, gestating or promoting something; together they indicate an action that is embarked upon autonomously. Self-management focuses on keeping control over processes performed in order to reach a given goal. Initially, though, the concept had political connotations given its links to the libertarian thought of the utopian socialists and to anarchist theory. It was mainly used as a form of social
â€Śwhat is understood by selfmanagement and how has this concept changed throughout history?
organization defined by the people in preparing and making decisions. It is not surprising that self-management in progressive movements interpreted the term and incorporated it as an operational part of their political struggles. Apart from its political and etymological connotations, it is useful to point out, that the concept of self-management originally pointed towards the self-determination of communities and the elimination of command-obedience-based structures. It affirmed the freedom and autonomy of individuals and gambled on collective political and economic organization. These characteristics illustrate the countervailing nature of the concept of self-management, which has mutated and infiltrated unsuspected environments and varied spaces. During the sixties and seventies, social movements like the hippies, the first ecological and feminist groups and minorities claimed the right to diverse sexual orientations or civil rights reclaimed self-management. This occurred in the arts as well, through sensory experimentation and expansion of consciousness, which emphasized alternative lifestyles. Self-management also found a home in music, with the creation of independent labels, rock music, and Woodstockstyle festivals. This proliferation of heterogeneous lifestyles influences self-managed artistic practices by expanding some of the precepts from its political origins into various areas of peopleâ€™s daily lives. Self-management thus acquires a contemporary nature, where its most important trait may be a focus on working collectively under principles of autonomy and equality, seeking to promote plural realities and communities rather than monolithic ones. Any self-managed praxis seeks people of like interests who promote an awareness that nothing good will come from delegating power to external entities. Until now weâ€™ve been able to outline ideas regarding self-management, but what about cooking? Cooking is usually related to the art of preparing food in a creative manner. Initially the culinary task of creating dishes was associated with empirical practice, arising from the skills and ingenuity of the housewife, and later professional chefs. Eventually food production overflowed the family environment and empiricism gave way to experimentation. In a certain sense, culinary practice is now equivalent to working in a laboratory; where ways are learned to transform food in order to make it more attractive and to improve its nutritional properties.
Culinary knowledge includes how to mix textures, aromas colors and how to achieve and serve tasty dishes. These are elements of processes of refinement from different cultural contexts, creating a variety of ways to prepare food. It can be said that cooking requires knowledge and creativity, precisely the two ingredients required by art. Beyond its preparation, food is for sharing. Eating is one of the most social actions in any culture; it doesnâ€™t simply mean sharing food through cooking, serving, consuming, enjoying; it is also a coincidence of emotions, feelings, sensations, reflections, encounters, confrontations, affections and displeasures. The act of eating can be loaded with meaning and feelings. Several artists, such as the Spanish artist Antoni Miralda, and the Argentinian/ Thai artist Rirkit Tiravanija have demonstrated these aspects. Acknowledging the foregoing ideas and the meaning behind sharing food, itâ€™s worth asking what all of this has to do with self-management. We believe these ideas can help in understanding self-management as it relates to artistic practice. It begins by criticizing the difficulty of accessing traditional distribution venues (museums, galleries, etc.), controlled by the few, with predictable consequences for artists. Self-management promotes opening other spaces that can create more horizontal relationships which embody the principles of autonomy and equality, and that focus on diversifying the venues available. Rather than waiting for change, taking initiative is the driving force behind self-managed artistic forms, practices, and strategies. Self-management in the arts requires a high level of commitment and co-responsibility among the people promoting collective activities. It also requires and provides greater freedom in project development and differs from other forms because of its horizontal nature. In this sense Artistic self-management is very similar to culinary practice: an activity that doesnâ€™t fit a single model. There are no recipes for self-management in the arts, everyone must find their own way. This is why their results can be very different, even if they share certain affinities. A common similarity between self-managed spaces is an insistence on collectiveness, insofar as they seek collective benefits through their work, so the common good may prevail over individual or personal interests. In this sense, self-managed artistic practices are similar to cooking, frequently performed selflessly, to delight others and,
It can be said that cooking requires knowledge and creativity, precisely the two ingredients required by art. above all, out of a desire to please. These practices activate values that frequently run counter to the ideas and values instilled by a capitalist society and its work-based worldview, including competition or the pursuit of economic benefits in every task. Self-management replaces these with collaboration and a pursuit of enjoyment, helping to weave new forms of togetherness.
Self-managed spaces also favor experimentation, the search for unknown sensations, and they share this with the culinary arts in which creativity is used to find the best way of preparing a dish or finding the most convenient ingredients for making it a success. In artistic self-management, creativity is often put to the test regarding financing. Different spaces resort to different kinds of solutions: Parties, concerts, individual contributions, self-financing, grants, calls for proposals and partnerships are common. Recipes are invented on a daily basis in order to create a new experience or a new project. The financing of self-managed spaces is one of the most interesting places that experimentation can be found, not only in the fundraising methods used, but also in the processes implemented for each project. Organization, management and the proposals themselves can suggest new ways of thinking about and of making art.
When we share around the table, it is usually to meet with friends and family: through food, relationships of affinity and trust are consolidated, and these are also present in self-managed artistic spaces. This dynamic creates a working environment where enjoyment and experiences compensate for the difficulties that arise along the way such as the time invested, difficulties related to both project execution and organization, and the financial requirements. Nevertheless, artistic organizations do not simply exist around the intention of solving common needs. Empathy, commitment, aesthetic commonalities and forms of negotiating meaning all have a great influence on them and, at times, jeopardize their continuity. Two ingredients can mitigate this risk of the failure of collective endeavors. Cooking requires willpower and resourcefulness, and a taste for learning techniques and experimenting with new ingredients. Sometimes one has to cook with very little, and creativity is required to satisfy oneâ€™s appetite. In the same sense, many strategies of self-managed artistic practices are the result of necessity, as versatility and creativity are required for finding possibilities and solutions with few resources. Ultimately, those that bet on self-management are manifesting the simple but powerful desire of wanting to do something. This may
sound like a cliché, but it reveals the libertarian side of selfmanagement practices, the anarchistic idea that says nothing good can come of delegating the resolution of problems to external entities. To a certain extent, self-managed artistic practices are a way of empowering life itself. We don’t want to become too romantic because we know that these practices may also be subjective. However, wanting to do something is the driving force that allows many spaces to realize an idea materialized by opening a physical space and proposing multiple ways of making, thinking about and understanding art. Just as food is a vital daily element, self-managed artistic practices can link art to everyday life. The linking of art and life, perhaps no longer in the manner of that avant-garde utopia in the sense of equating these two elements, but more as a way of humanizing content and bringing them closer to everyday life, helps to distance them from academicism and posing. Self-managed spaces can promote the ideas of collectivity, of commonality, much like the preparation and consumption of food. In the same way that food and its preparation can break down the separation between work and life, collective self-managed spaces frequently begin because the members or founders contribute their own resources; i.e., they develop an amateur economy that often depends on the traditional one - many founders work elsewhere in order to fund their spaces. Over time alternative resources and additional funding sources become necessary: scholarships, grants and events; but more importantly, the attitude underlying self-managed artistic practices vindicates a vitalist notion, in the philosophical sense of the term, of work. An enjoyment of what one does runs counter to the reality of many people who work out of necessity, frequently in badly paid jobs that contribute nothing to their personal development, while a vindication of the enjoyment of professional labors reinforces the idea of a link between the activities performed for earning a living and vocation and personal development leading to a merger of work and life. Ultimately, just as one can eat without receiving nutrition, one can work without growing professionally or personally; it’s important, therefore, to reaffirm that underlying these practices is the power to empower life. The previous ideas show that self-managed artistic practices generate workspaces where work doesn’t feel separate from life, where the work done is full of meaning, and the duality between the conventional world of work and self-managed work can disappear.
They criticize the way in which the commercial world proposes labor relations, whereas a gamble on a self-managed space promotes the creation of different ideas about work, which are traversed by different values. Self-managed artistic practices also create networks that, eventually, could turn into platforms for work. Their spaces are characterized by collaborations with similar platforms, which allow them to carry out activities they couldnâ€™t on their own, reinforcing bonds of solidarity and creating an ample network of contacts that generates vast synergies within the artistic world. As these projects become consolidated, they start to seek other sources of funding. Like the culinary arts, they start by developing empirical and intuitive forms of working. Over time, they refine and professionalize their actions and expand into other environments. Self-managed artistic spaces are not always dissidents; they coexist with the institutional side, and can eventually collaborate with it. This idea shows a shift in the way the debates that existed in the nineties [and earlier] regarding marginal, independent or alternative art have evolved towards the idea of self-managed artistic practices. This shift expresses a pragmatic position related to the way in which these spaces operate. They donâ€™t compete with or dissent from the institutional side, but in certain circumstances, simply make it part of a strategy for generating other sources of knowledge and livelihood. These shifts propose a new rationale for self-managed artistic practices, as they demonstrate the incorporation of new management concepts and organizational models for art and the way in which they facilitate its praxis. The incorporation of management, specifically cultural management, requires that it is born out of a context with conditions usually linked to ideas of the commercialization or instrumentalization of culture, and so self-management in the arts always runs the risk of subjugation. Cultural or artistic management includes concepts and theories that explain, substantiate and permit its performance and that, in turn, are the product of an ongoing negotiation with concrete management practices that involve an articulation of rationales and personalities that are not always moving in the same direction. Continuing with the analogy, one needs to find the right cooking temperature, the right mixture and the most suitable flavors so the dish will be appetizing, and in the same way, since there are no recipes for artistic self-management, one needs to know how to
manage challenges in different environments in order to find the point at which this combination works. This text briefly approaches certain aspects of artistic selfmanagement, and attempts to explain them through affinities with the culinary arts. Both try to maintain control over their processes. Experimentation is at the heart of what they do. Both extend an invitation to share and consolidate practices and values that highlight collectivity, and above all, both are hard to define using a single parameter. Finally, in their daily endeavors they invent the recipes that work the best, they generate extremely varied models, ways of doing and solving things, and of mixing the ingredients that work the best or according to any need that arises and the intentions or ideas they want to execute. In the end, neither the culinary arts nor artistic self-management have a single path, but rather a variety of unsuspected possibilities.
â€Ś a gamble on a selfmanaged space promotes the creation of different ideas about work
Between the Personal and the Collective: Human relations in self-managed artistic practices
Although in everyday life we use the words “individual” and “person” interchangeably, etymologically they have dissimilar and revealing meanings: […] during the first Modern Age, the word “individual” referred, in the first place, not to the separation between human beings, but to the concept of indivisibility of an entity with inseparable elements. In the 16th and 17th Centuries the Trinity was spoken of as an individual, or marriage was spoken of as an individual, because the notion of individuality referred to the notion of indivisibility, but the rupture of Christianity through the Protestant reformation broke up this unity of the political body and introduced another definition of the individual, no longer as indivisible, but rather as distinct, separate, singular (Chartier, 2007, p.11). This evolution in the meaning of the individual refers not just to an individual in isolation, or an indivisible unit, it also refers to a unit made up of more than one element, whether human or not; a unit considered indivisible in social, political, religious or other terms. This allows us to contemplate the individual beyond the body, which can then permit us to refer to human beings as a genus that is also indivisible. The word “person” comes from the Greek prospora, which means, “mask”, alluding to the masks used by actors in Greek theater. Then, the word “person” can be extended to “citizen”, who are those that had rights and a given role within the city; i.e., the legal person. Today, a “person” is often identified with the uniqueness of every human being, and the word “personality” derives from this. Originally, though, it was related to the specific roles in a play or in society. This seems to indicate that “human beings” and “persons with rights” overlapped, which means that a person’s social aspects were fundamental for defining that person as unique. The evolution of the meanings of words over time takes us from the general or collective to the particular, from the social to the intimate, public vs. private. This indicates a variation in the relationship between what is public and what is private. We tend to consider these two categories as stable, but a historical analysis shows how they have been constructed over time, Western history shows us that “public” can be identified with the state, social spaces or the family, and “private” identified with friends, acquaintances, family etc. (Ariès, 1989).
…selfmanaged artistic practices bring the collective into prominence again…
This historical understanding allows us to point out that relationships between the collective and the individual are not static, but are social constructs that vary over time. Modern western traditions have also inherited a division between the personal, i.e. intimate, private, proprietary; and the collective, i.e. public, external and foreign. Historically, the traditional art world has privileged the image of the solitary artist, who creates privately, thus isolating the artistic space. But self-managed artistic practices bring the collective into prominence again, criticizing a model of art wherein a genius produces in isolation. Self-management proposes artistic practices in which the collective enriches not only the works or objects but also the communicational, transformational and creative processes. The modern West also inherits this division between the public and the private in the labor world: people can only be genuine and happy in their intimacy, but in their public world, in their workspace, they are beings that, in some way, don’t belong to themselves and cannot find fulfillment. Self-managed artistic practice, as proposed by Paola Peña in the previous chapter, seeks a merger between life and work, fostering enjoyment, that helps individuals develop, that matches a person’s calling. In this way, they offer a new organization of public and private spaces, of the individual or personal and the collective; not just in artistic environments but also in labor-related settings, filling collective spaces with a sense of ownership and vitality. In self-managed artistic spaces, each person performs a role, or roles; one may direct, another may organize, someone may design, find resources, contribute ideas, imagine, prepare and provide food, referee conflicts etc. Some may fill several of these roles at the same time. Thus, each person can contribute strength, fluidity, solidity, beauty, fullness, precision, questions, doubts, security etc. They are all part of the project’s life; similar and different - human beings. This variety of roles, although they imply a hierarchy, adds to diversity and horizontality, as each person contributes. Thus, in a space like Casa Tres Patios, the essential team are those that keep the Foundation running, from the most basic jobs, like keeping the space clean, to the complexities that require juggling desires and budgets. This team may be small, but it is constantly influenced by the actors that pass through the space; people that, either for long periods or short instants, exchange ideas, visions and points of view regarding the space, the activities and our surroundings. It’s important to look at this exchange in greater depth; all these perceptions, emotions, ideas, originate with a person. Life
alters us all differently, with unequal intensities and at different moments. This makes it impossible for us to think in exactly the same way. In this sense, people are unpredictable, but that’s where the magic lies: every day, every hour, every degree Celsius affects our behavior and, therefore, our interpersonal relationships are complex even at the best of times. This is why, throughout history, we have tried to understand how people function, to foresee the behavior of groups of humans, to anticipate what will happen when two or more individuals relate to each other. In turn, different disciplines have assigned more and more importance to the person performing the activities; contemporary science takes into account the researcher (person) as a part of the system being analyzed. Personality, the environment, and the experiences that people accumulate, whether good or bad, will always influence the way in which they interpret their reality. This may be a definition of subjectivity (avoiding the infinite meanings ascribed to that term) as a kind of social nutrient that provides perceptions, ideas, and questions, which come from each individual’s point of view. To acknowledge subjectivity is to admit that universality doesn’t exist, or that it merges with particularity, so that agreements can be reached in order to move forward. It also means valuing each of the individuals involved. The role of subjectivity in the construction of reality has become as variable as the number of people explaining it: from photography (Fontcuberta, 2013) to science (Verdugo, 1996), reality is made up of many realities. Therefore, in the midst of this variety, how can we communicate ideas? Part of the answer can be found in the notion of inter-subjectivity. “It was Trevarthen who introduced the term some decades ago and defined it as an ‘access to the others subjectivity.’ It is based on the primordial social drive towards communication, a shared motivation for understanding the other” (Gutiérrez, Ball and Márquez, 2008, p. 694). Regarding inter-subjectivity, the sociologist and philosopher Alfred Schütz states that the names of things are generated in everyday life, and especially in everyday cohabitation, and allows the subjectivities in our daily existence to coexist: “Thus we learn to name a chair, a dog, the sky or the stars; but beyond this, by being created socially, we can interact socially, and the probability exists that there will be understanding” (Hernández Romero & Galindo Sosa, 2007, p.235). It is through inter-subjectivity, therefore, that relationships between individuals are established via agreements that allow them to communicate and that are manifested in the way they name their environment, but that also include a shared way of understanding
that environment. Inter-subjectivity becomes relevant to self-managed artistic practices in the reassessment or reconstruction of meaning in order to validate their work. By opening up to actions and concepts other than those established by institutions, public or otherwise, they seek to maintain a personal subjective dialog. This dialog allows them to generate a sense of their own work and methods. Paulo Freire has returned strongly as one of the most famous Latin proponents of the importance of understanding persons. In his Letters To Those Who Dare Teach (2004), he speaks of the feelings a teacher experiences when faced with a new group, and asserts that only progressive educators will accept that they feel many things, including fear; but that, by accepting that fear, they may become aware that those people may also feel that fear, or something similar, and thus embark upon a relationship that will be truly significant for them. Freire reminds us, that communication between people isnâ€™t simply intellectual, but that true relationships are based on the greatest subjectivities, those things that, as individuals, we feel the most deeply, those that are the most intimate but which we know are common to humanity and that weâ€™ve all felt in one way or another. True dialog results from this: a radically honest and, therefore, fragile, but powerful posture. In this sense people are a prime element of self-managed artistic spaces. Persons, whether teaching or exhibiting their work are of great relevance to these practices of course, but besides being the driving forces, they establish dialogs through which the collective imagination can be recreated. They build relationships that validate more authentic ways of being together, thus, a combination of persons produces a new individual, a richer, more diverse and complex unit.
Persons [â€Ś] establish dialogs through which the collective imagination can be recreated.
Territory and Context: The basic elements of artistic self-management
Before the territory came the land; vast, complete, foreign. Territorium is a Latin word composed of terra (land, or earth) and orio (belonging, place). So, literally the word ‘territory’ can be defined as ‘someone’s land’ or ‘land that belongs to someone. Thus, from land (terra) to territory there is one step: appropriation. Our territory is what we know, what we understand and the secrets we command. But how can man make a place on Earth his own? One possible answer is language. Not simply verbal language, but our gestures, rites and marks upon our territory. Our gestures and rites provide us with a precise way of inhabiting the world and are an expression of the way we interpret it. The same thing happens with our marks: the signs that we have inhabited a place and that it belongs to us; paintings, objects, temples, houses. We take and transform what the world offers us and acquire our own way of living, which in turn transforms the world. In this way, by disseminating our words, practices and marks throughout our surroundings, we create context – the union of the weave and the warp - connections between matter and the intangible, the visible and the invisible, thus turning the land into our own territory, which we inhabit and which inhabits us. With increasing momentum, the process of creating contexts and their elements grows and becomes more complex. The need to preserve a territory as one’s own and to defend it yields more complex and extensive forms. Appropriation and relation to the territory can include governmental, political, economic, communications, technological relationships and autochthonous cultural forms. Further, this includes specific ways in which all these elements relate to and influence each other. This level of complexity also includes the multiplication of the individuals involved in human processes, food, art, government, the construction of habitations and cities, the transmission of knowledge, commercial exchanges, etc. In this way, the most primitive actions and objects persist within us; we’ve simply created wider and more complex networks. Currently it appears evident that human practices generate physical changes within inhabited territories. As these changes are assimilated and integrated they generate new relationships. Therefore, it seems appropriate to talk about context as a link between territory and human practices and meanings. These can be basic yet complex, variable, and extremely relevant to life. Since every context has unique characteristics that create qualities particular to its inhabitants who enter into a cause and effect cycle where relationships are not linear, and which are more like braids, profoundly linked by their constructs like the warp and the weave.
This far-reaching, complex panorama of territory and context is useful for determining their place in self-managed artistic spaces. Although all contexts are different, Casa Tres Patios’ own experience may help materialize ideas that have already been presented and provide an example of their place in self-managed artistic work. Just as the land becomes territory through appropriation, so a selfmanaged endeavor must undergo a process of appropriation by its context. Otherwise, the territory will be foreign, and the project may fail. The process of founding C3P is paradigmatic regarding this ‘appropriation’. Its founder is from the United States and, therefore, in the process of absorbing this new context: i.e.the city of Medellín, Colombia, he had to start from the beginning. Grown human beings possess cultural baggage and this often brings with it preformed judgments, or ideas of which we usually are not aware until confronted by reality. Initially, C3P held exhibitions of local artists, with good results, and people attended the exhibitions. But when the works of foreign artists were displayed the low turnout was disconcerting. What was the mistake? What was being done wrong? Perhaps it was due to a lack of publicity? Experience accumulated, and it appears that the individuals within the foundation’s sphere tend to relate personally to the artists; they prefer to feel close to each other and there is not as much interest in the work of foreign artists. In confronting this, the initiative’s founders changed their expectations and methods and reconsidered their relationship with foreign artists, seeking to make the experiences more personal for the local public. They decided to set up workshops in which the artists would share their creative processes. This allowed artists in residence to interact differently with people, to develop relationships and to show their work in a more personal manner.. This process indicates that it is fundamental to understand individuals as the starting point and the goal of self-managed spaces. Since they are the ones that configure and reconfigure them. The presence or absence of individuals bears witness to the relationship that’s being established with the context. Individuals aren’t the same everywhere, although they may seem so at first. The needs and desires of one and the other are complex and diverse. In this way, a self-managed project enters into a new space, even a foreign land, but through its actions it can take ownership, speaking and acting in the language of that place. This allows it to appropriate that land as its own territory, and become integrated into the context.
When we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory we must understand how it moves, interprets and reacts to things…
Territory is constant in everything and reflects our way of relating to the world. Territory is carried on the inside. Any part of the land in which we grow endows us with special characteristics: a particular way of looking at the world. When we move to another territory we bring it with us., The influence of our territory is always present. When acting outside familiar territory, we may expect the new space to react in a predictable way. When we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory we must understand how it moves, interprets and reacts to things, because it may contain similar elements but never exactly the same ones. Since C3P is culturally and ethnically diverse, it is essential that in understanding and responding to these new territories, the differences are emphasized over the similarities. These differences may create clashes but clashes create attraction. The process by which a self-managed space starts to take ownership of a formerly foreign territory can work in two ways, affecting as well as being affected by that space., C3P’s experience with interventions is instructive. Working with the Government is a good example: Medellín’s municipal administrations, after learning about the institution’s work (its ability to change methodologies, for example), have started to keep C3P in mind, to seek ways of carrying out joint projects, not only with financial support but also as partners. Traditional museums have also allowed themselves to be affected by self-managed projects, entering into partnerships and including in their schedules exhibitions, workshops and other kinds of activities. The world of academia, thanks to certain flexibilities in its standards, has also entered into a relationship with self-managed artistic spaces, appreciating the different options they offer. Self-managed projects may also initiate new paradigms in art and, from there, new social relationships. It can be argued that self-managed artistic spaces are educational, whether they dedicate themselves directly to any teaching activities or not. The simple fact of their existence makes them part of a greater context and invites people to relate specifically to culture and art. They can affect the educational environment, albeit in a non-official and informal manner. This occurs to an even greater degree when working directly with learning processes. C3P can offer people of all ages a, more horizontal and dynamic relationship to education based on conversation and inquiry. Self-managed spaces that inhabit a territory can and must affect each other. In this case, relationships may be more complex because, at least in the initial stages of these processes, each space is trying to define itself, to find support for sustaining themselves, to grow and to learn. The learning often occurs empirically.
It is possible to become too busy trying to make a place within this kind of context, and under these conditions it can be difficult to work together with other groups. However, collaboration is desirable and many times the spaces with more experience serve as examples for the more recently establishe ones in areas like cultural management. This can be difficult for self-managed spaces, which typically flow against the current and are motivated not by experience or knowledge of the necessary tasks, but mainly by passion for the work, which, although desirable, is never enough. Finally, there’s a wider context that’s affected by the work of self-managed artistic spaces. Thanks to the Internet, international contacts are created that, through joint efforts, can become networks, allowing the creation of a context that, if not global, can be farreaching and diverse. Casa Tres Patios’ experience within its context – understanding it, acting within it, integrating into it, modifying it, expanding it - may serve to demonstrate how the context, which includes the territory, is the basic element of any self-managed project. The idealism that characterizes this type of project must find a place within a specific context, and it must respond to that context’s needs, conditions and demands if they are to be truly significant and, above all, alternative.
Self-managed projects may also initiate new paradigms in art and, from there, new social relationships. 37
Alternative spaces and artistic praxis: The exercise of creating a new map for the arts in MedellĂn
The recent history of the visual arts in Medellín, especially in the last decade, during which the city has positioned itself through the MDE events, (International Art Encounter in Medellín),1 as urgent calls for its insertion on the international stage and its artists within a global context, has paradoxically not been found especially interesting by theoreticians, critics or commentators, who, from different points of view, are engrossed in the current reality of viewing Medellín as a sexy place that twenty years ago bore the label of the most dangerous city in the world. Acknowledging a process of rebirth, seeking a plural praxis that is reconnecting to the world and becoming a place where museums and art faculties work together to promote these processes, Medellín now has alternative artistic spaces, spaces that are independent from established institutions.2 A new identity has been given to the local scene by offering innovative proposals and ideas that have breathed new life into both the circuits for exchanging and circulating contemporary art and the practice itself. This text reflects upon artistic practices located outside the traditional and official circuits in Medellín; practices that bear a festive character and allow different people to congregate around the arts3. Practices that modify society’s norms and create ephemeral situations in which the connections generated at these meeting places4 configure a way of creating contemporary art, create an artistic praxis that is true to its avant-garde legacy and can be understood based on the situationist postulates5. The theories of relational art proposed by Nicolas Bourriaud as well as the theories of social aesthetics or the new cultural ecologies approached by Ladagga, Canclini and Ranciere also apply. In order to understand this new artistic map or scene in Medellín it helps to remember the seventies, an environment of collective creation the seed of which was planted by the early theater collectives and ideological discourses on the system, which fostered collectivism or collaborative practices amongst artists. The city, as a space for production, as a structure for social organization meant to contain and permit the traffic of a great number of strangers, is the stage where places are created, as a contrary and subversive reaction, which fosters encounters and contacts between strangers while affecting their senses (Cadavid, 2014). A pioneering group in this field was the Taller de Artes de Medellín (Medellín Art Workshop) (1976-2001), an interdisciplinary group that combined performing arts, music, literature and visual arts with
Medellín now has alternative artistic spaces, spaces that are independent from established institutions.
artists and amateurs from different backgrounds and helped build one of the most influential artistic and ideological proposals at that time among the traditional arts in the city – classical theater, opera, zarzuela, etc.- as well as avant-garde forms. Neo-expressionism and the trans-avant-garde became the dialectic with which Samuel Vasquez, the workshop director and a local painting guru, attracted young people interested in representing a new urban reality through unrestrained drives and gestures. The Taller de Artes was headquartered at a mythical house on the corner of Echeverri and Venezuela, across Oriental Avenue, on the border of the Prado and Villanueva neighborhoods, a sector that today houses some of the most dynamic alternative spaces for visual arts in the city and that are the subject of this article.
Another reference point, is the Taller del Grabado / La Estampa (Engraving / Stamping Workshop) (1983). This graphic workshop was initiated by two young artists, Ricardo Pelaez and Luis Fernando Mejia, who, in 1981, while studying engraving at Valdottavo, Italy, in Luis Camnitzer’s Studio, conceived an infrastructure that would allow them and other graphic artists and amateurs to develop their own proposals, and allow other graphic artists and amateurs to do the same.
This shared dream became a reality in February 1983, and was consolidated in the following years with the incorporation of new partners; Angela Maria Restrepo, Jose Ignacio Velez, Santiago Londoño and Jose Antonio Suarez. For over 30 years in the different locations they have had in the El Poblado neighborhood, hundreds of art aficionados and design, visual arts and architecture students have received training and have found in the availability of its presses a refuge for practicing professional engraving. The most coherent initiative as an independent space for artistic activation and circulation was the La Guardia (1998) bar, located in Castilla, one of the city’s traditional neighborhoods. A meeting place and a space for cultural dissemination, it was formalized by means of the union of several cultural actors in the zone, including Juan Cano, Freddy Serna and others, who used it as a space for concerts, exhibitions, conversations, poetry readings and artist residencies (this last format was associated with MDE07). The space was closed in 2012. The creation of groups, collectives6 or autonomous associations in Medellín for engaging in collective creation arose within a fertile environment of academic debates and positions that challenged individualistic pedagogical models structured by arts faculties in
spaces like the Central Workshop and the Integrated Workshop of the National University and the University of Antioquia. These models were based on a hegemonic artistic educational model that profiles student artists, comparing their individual processes with those of their peers within a common space that is intentionally competitive and exclusive. This process had the effect of segregating the majority from an exclusive minority that validated the profile of the artist-artist; a process completely foreign to an expanded and plural practice of the arts and consistent with alternative fields of insertion. It is important to note that compared to other Colombian cities-- Cali (Ciudad Solar, Lugar a Dudas, Helena Producciones), Barranquilla (El Sindicato), Bogota (Taller Cuatro Rojo, Ruinas Faber, Popular de Lujo, El Bodegón) and Cartagena (more recently Mal de Ojo and Octavo Plástico) to mention just a few with the longest history-the promotion of collective practices independent from artistic institutions came to Medellín later. Later collective and collaborative initiatives in the visual arts7 associated with physical spaces or locations for exchanges, networking and circulation arose in Medellín at the beginning of this millennium, with different purposes and needs that we will look at below. The following is a current description of alternative or independent spaces in Medellín. Quoting a recent article I wrote, for the magazine Errata# No. 7, published by the Gilberto Alzate Avendaño Foundation in Bogotá titled ‘Community artistic practices: a horizon for action that transforms artistic and social relationships in Medellín in which I approach the recent dynamics in this field and the typology of existing groupings or associations, the following local categories are defined. In this text I will only cover the first two: 1. Locations for individual and collective students, graduates and artistic colleagues.
2. Initiatives created due of a lack of exhibition spaces in the city for young people and artists not considered by museums and galleries. These initiatives have implemented, over time, the practice of artistic residencies, adapting the locations or renting neighboring spaces for carrying out diverse, simultaneous functions, such as exhibitions, conversations, workshops, film and community encounters, as part of a wider offering.
3. Collaborative projects that have made alternative incursions as itinerant circulation spaces without fixed locations (2012, pp. 162-164-165). In his book Aesthetics of Emergency, Reinaldo Laddaga points out that the present state of the arts is defined by the proliferation of certain types of projects that don’t fit within traditional or institutionalized rationales and arise as a result of particular initiatives that transcend into collective or collaborative productions: “…in order to articulate the production of images, texts or sounds and as an exploration of lives held in common, they forego the production of works of art or the type of rejection materialized in the most common productions of the most recent avant-garde, and initiate or intensify open processes of conversation (dialogs) that may or may not involve artists over long periods, in well-defined spaces, where aesthetic productions are associated with the deployment of organizations that intend to modify the state of things within a given space and that aim for the constitution of artificial social life forms and experimental forms of coexistence (2006. p. 21).” With this in mind, independent initiatives have, over the past 15 years, created several options for the city’s artistic life. Locations for individual and collective production by students, graduates and artistic colleagues, the intermittent Taller Darién (Darien Workshop) (2000-2013) stands out. This was a collective workshop located in the Prado Centro neighborhood and led by the artists Pablo Jaramillo, Isaiz Gutiérrez, the two Clara Restrepos (Clara Oscura – Dark Clara – and Clara Clara – Light Clara), Albeiro Londoño and other artists that had graduated from the National University of Colombia (Medellín). This space promoted some exhibitions and encounters that brought together members of a generation reacting against the postulates of a teaching body aligned with the pedagogy of the Taller Central. Taller 7 (2003). Created by some students of the Bellas Artes Institute: Mauricio Carmona, Adriana Pineda, Julián Urrego, Paola Gaviria, Javier Alvarez, Carlos Carmona and Maria Isabel Velez, who used a rented house in the Bombona neighborhood in the city center. By the end of 2004, it had become consolidated as a collaborative project and brought two new members on board, the recently graduated Milton Valencia and the student Albany Henao, both from the same institution, as well as other students from similar faculties, generating an articulation and circulation of ideas among peers.
In 2006, Taller 7 operated intermittently as an artistic residence, and with an invitation from MDE07 to host the event, became consolidated as a destination for artists and curators with diverse backgrounds. Currently, only three of the founders remain: Mauricio Carmona, Adriana Pineda and Julian Urrego. Sebastian Restrepo joined them in 2011. It’s worth pointing out that after eleven years of collective work, Taller 7 is part of a network that collaborates with other peer entities around the world, especially in Latin America, including Networked Residencies of Iberoamerica and Residencies of Colombia (RICO). It also receives support from the Ministry of Culture and has raised funds through different projects. They have also developed stimuli for different artistic projects in collaboration with the City of Medellín (Cadavid, 2014). This year the jury of the Ministry of Culture’s National Award for New Artistic Practices selected it as a finalist. Casa Taller Sitio - Plazarte (2007) is a workshop founded by Mauricio Velez and Mirta Lucia Burbano, with contributions from Juan Fernando Velez, among other artists. It is headquartered in a borrowed building in the Prado neighborhood. It has an active cultural and exhibition program and generates strong cultural and heritage-related political resistance among its neighbors and peers. Medellín’s alternative spaces are complemented by a second category of Initiatives created due to a lack of exhibition spaces in the city for youths and artists not convened by museums and galleries. These initiatives have implemented artistic residency services over time, adapting their own locations or renting neighboring spaces that fulfill diverse and simultaneous functions, like exhibitions, conversations, workshops, cinema, community encounters and social life.
â€Śthe present state of the arts is defined by the proliferation of certain types of projects that donâ€™t fit within traditional or 44
institutionalized rationales and arise as a result of particular initiatives that transcend into collective or collaborative productions. 45
Although some projects have already disappeared due to the radiance or viral environment of collaborative dynamics: some other excellent projects that have used this alternative rationale and have achieved consolidation are: 10-36 (2003). An experimental space created by the artist Wolfgang Guarin, Natalia Diaz and Juan Esteban Estrada, was located in the old section of El Poblado. Although the venue was a bar with commercial motivations, it served as a meeting place for a generation of visual artists, designers and musicians, often among the avant-garde. Jam sessions, performances of genre music and exhibitions were a part of a collaborative dynamic and a fervent social life that closed down, sadly, in 2006. Thanks to the MDE07 (International Art Encounter Medellín: contemporary artistic practice) other independent initiatives for artistic circulation and residencies with fixed locations were anticipated or incubated. Casa Imago (2007) was a space organized by the artist and teacher Carlos Galeano, located at the Playa Horizontal building, in the center of Medellín. It started out as an artistic residence, but with the boost from MDE07 it became an exhibition gallery and a platform for workshops, conversations and social encounters. Campos de Gutiérrez (2011). This space for residences and workshops, which mostly works with foreign artists, was created under the initiative of the artist and promoter Andres Monzon-Aguirre. It is located in an historic country house with a traditional coffeeplantation architecture close to the neighborhoods east of the city. Every year, between 25 and 40 international artists, researchers and young curators, eager to get to know Medellín and become submerged in the introspective environment provided by its contemplative view, circulate through its residential workshops located in an exuberant countryside only minutes away from the center of town. La Tienda Gallery (2012). This initiative arose as a space for exhibitions, reflection and pedagogy related to contemporary artistic practices. The idea found traction with the presence in the city of four North Americans: Thomas Bettridge, Nick Murphy, Ryan Rooney and Alejandro Uribe, all from different professions, not all artists, who, interested as they were in the circulation of ideas and in adding atmosphere to the city’s plastic arts scene, fostered the latter for over ten months from premises located on Avenida 65, close to the Suramericana sector of the city.
That same year Por Estos Días (2012) appeared. The architects Jaime Carmona and Alejandro Bustamante created a space for reflection and sharing ideas wherein art, architecture, design, cinema and literature bring people together using social life, exhibitions, workshops, and conversations. This space is located in a rental house in the Belen Granada neighborhood in the west part of town. Perhaps the only one of these independent spaces that, doesn’t have a fixed location is Galería Móvil (2008), a collaborative initiative created by Viviana Palacios and Camila Botero who were students at the Universidad de Antioquia at that time. Only the former remains in charge of this project. Galería Móvil curates exhibitions in temporarily rented or loaned venues, promoting the production of young artists. Perhaps the most consequent example, and pioneer as an alternative initiative with fixed installations8 which provided spaces for exchanging and circulating ideas, discourses, agents and institutions within this new model is Casa Tres Patios (2006) (Cadavid, 2014). It was initiated by the North American artist Tony Evanko, and incubated during his Fullbright grant in Medellín. In 2006, a few days after arriving in Colombia Tony and I met in the city of Cartagena de Indias while participating in a joint art project: the Book of Ideas, organized by the Metal Foundation in Liverpool, England. This project brought together British curators interested in the processes of contemporary Colombian artists like Jose Alejandro Restrepo, Juan Fernando Herran, Hugo Zapata, Luis Fernando Pelaez and the author of this article. Tony was interested in this exchange of contemporary art and in expanding his knowledge about the country’s artists. He was extremely interested in understanding the dynamics and the state of art on the local scene. Since his presence in the city was temporary he was particularly willing to participate in academic activities as a guest teacher for workshops in the art faculties of the National University and the University of Antioquia. It is not often that gringos-- the term used in Colombia for North Americans and Europeans that speak languages other than Spanish, Portuguese and Italian-- decide to settle as artists in Medellín. Except for Georges Brasseur, at the beginning of the 20th Century, who was imported by the Society for Public Improvements to direct the painting school at the Instituto de Bellas Artes; or the charming Ethel Gilmour, present in this city since the seventies due to her devotion and love for an inhabitant of Medellín, we hadn’t adopted a single gringo.
Tony came to stay. Today one sees not only gringos but also foreigners of all stripes and backgrounds attracted by the Most Innovative City in the World. Prior to Tony’s arrival this was a timid artistic scene, not decadent but dumbstruck, inhibited by the remnants of the dark period of drug trafficking, which affected the art market, and by the eternal isolation that cultural centers outside of the permanent sway of the centralism of Bogota are subjected to. If there’s one foreigner who believed in Medellín before it was consecrated as the most innovative or the sexiest city in the world, it’s Tony. I think he has a nose or some sixth sense. Tony gambled entirely on Medellín, the city nobody gave a cent for on the country’s artistic scene until MDE07. Without a doubt, Tony helped to draw a new map for the arts in this city. Thus, Tony Evanko = Casa Tres Patios were here to stay. After his first visit he returned to his home-town of Albuquerque, ended his contracts as a professor, put his affairs in order and returned to Medellín with the mission of becoming established here and opening up an alternative space for practicing and circulating contemporary art in the city. He began by renting a large house in the Bombona neighborhood, in the center of Medellín, which he opened for exhibitions and experimentation by young students and artists. At the end of 2006, after purchasing a building in the Prado neighborhood and inviting the artist Santiago Velez and the designer Sonia Sequeda to become partners in this endeavor, it became consolidated as a collaborative project: …I embarked upon the C3P project because I observed a lack of experimental spaces in the city at that time, and also to provide an exhibition and dissemination space for art students and artists in Medellín. Santiago [Velez], as a professor of the U.de A., and I, as guest professor, were teaching a course for that institution at the Botanical Gardens, which we called Art and Space in the Landscape. I had started reforming the house, where I lived during my grant and I invited Santiago to become a part of the project. The first exhibition we held was based on reinterpretations by the students of the course we had offered. Their work was moved from the Botanical Gardens to C3P. That’s how we started. And now we’ve been offering a space for contemporary art in the city for the past 9 years ( Tony Evanko, edited written communication, July 28, 2014). I won’t take the time to mention the hundreds of activities hosted by this space or to illustrate the network of contacts and supporters it has created around the world but it’s worth noting that, currently, it’s one of the most dynamic non-institutional spaces, not just in Colombia, but also in all of Latin America.
[C3P is] one of the most dynamic noninstitutional spaces, not just in Colombia, but also in all of Latin America. 49
Uncertainty: In a complex world, uncertainty is the constant
According to the Royal Spanish Academy [for the Spanish language], the word ‘uncertainty’ is defined as: “a lack of certainty”, i.e., a certain degree of ignorance. But, regarding what? Regarding the world, the future, other people, oneself, regarding anything that can be known. Thus, we could see ignorance as something negative, when in fact it’s no more than the impulse we need to live. Uncertainty is a vital stimulation that helps us taste life with greater intensity. Uncertainty is something we experience regarding the future and the present, regarding what life brings us at each instant and what we can know. Without a doubt, human beings can let themselves be carried away, as they often are, by a rejection of uncertainty; many would prefer to have everything written down in some kind of table of contents, but clearly this is not possible. Even if we live like we can predict life’s results, we never really know what will happen later, always later. Faced with uncertainty we can ignore it, which will invariably lead, to an untimely shock. We can fight against it, or we can also accept our lack of control. Recently, this option has become more plausible; in fact, the acceptance of uncertainty is one of the most common highlights of contemporary systems of thought, from physics to philosophy. In the history of the Western world, a ‘lack of certainty’ has been the object of complex theories. The most well known analyses can be found in the field of physics, and are known as the uncertainty principles, proposed by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, in 1925. This principle, together with the theory of relativity, changed the landscape of physics. According to the uncertainty principle it isn’t possible to measure the position and the velocity of a particle at the same time, because when you measure one of the two variables the other is affected. So the very act of measuring affects what is measured, and so an inevitable degree of imprecision exists when trying to estimate the most basic elements of matter. Thus, physics, one of the most ‘exact’ sciences, and a model for the others, allowed itself to include error and doubt thus acknowledging an error or a lack of certainty in even the most precise calculations. One could say that the history of the universe is starting to be rewritten on a foundation of error and uncertainty. Even so, the uncertainty principle is a way of organizing the world. Accepting that it’s impossible to measure it with entire precision, but also using it as a constant that ‘makes contradictions disappear’ (Heisenberg, 1959), indicates that what appears to be a contradiction is simply
the sign that something still needs to be understood, this idea places questions and doubt at the heart of science itself, allows theories to be constantly revised and puts in jeopardy the most absolute of proposals. This is what is known as complex thought: On the one hand, we can say that complexity in the empirical world reiterates uncertainty and an inability to achieve certainty, to formulate laws, to conceive of an absolute order. On the other hand, it reclaims something from the field of logic, i.e., a capacity for avoiding contradiction. From a classical perspective, when an argument contained a contradiction, it was a sign of an error and the argument had to be started over. Under a complex perspective, when a contradiction is reached using empirical-rational methods, it doesnâ€™t imply the existence of an error, but rather that a deep layer of reality has been reached that canâ€™t be translated into the terms of our logic (Solis. 2003, p. 11). But complex thought doesnâ€™t just refer to the knowledge of the physical sciences. In its beginnings, the uncertainty principle was restricted to subatomic elements of matter, but its consequences have expanded. An acknowledgement of uncertainty has extended from the postulates of physics to the structure of modernity itself, which proposed that science would provide the possibility of organizing and understanding the world precisely through categorization (Hawking, 1999). The disciplines of biology, chemistry, even psychoanalysis use classification for ordering the world, in the quest to understand it. But in the 20th Century, when physics decided to integrate uncertainty as something inherent to all its calculations and as a fundamental part of its theories, concepts acquired philosophical relevance (Heisenberg, 1959) as this slowly became part of the Western way of understanding the world. So at the beginning of the 21st Century, uncertainty has penetrated everyday life. Taking this principle into account, disciplines beyond physics; technology, philosophy, pedagogy, economics have adopted the uncertainty principle as an important part of their thought and actions. Complex thought arises out of this context, a proposal that embraces all aspects of human life, understanding that uncertainty goes beyond the quanta. Edgar Morin, alongside Vallejo-Gomez, proposes the existence of several uncertainty principles that affect the daily life of society and of individuals:
Self-managed artistic spaces are experimental and, therefore, they are places where new knowledge is constructed…
• A cerebral-mental uncertainty principle derived from the process of translation/reconstruction inherent to all knowledge. • A logical uncertainty principle. As Pascal stated clearly: ‘Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth’. • A rational uncertainty principle, understanding that rationality, if it doesn’t maintain self-critical vigilance, can fall into rationalization. • A psychological uncertainty principle: It isn’t possible to be fully aware of what happens in the machinery of our mind, which always keeps something fundamentally unconscious. Therefore, there is the difficulty of performing a critical self-examination regarding which we cannot honestly be certain, as there are limits to any self-knowledge (1999, p.46).
Based on this understanding of uncertainty, Morin states the need for education in the future that will integrate uncertainty into science and history, so we can learn to deal with them using complex thought, through which human beings are made more aware of their ignorance, not as a limitation but as an invitation to deeper thoughts, ideas and symbols. Complex thought, with its capacity for integrating uncertainty is also present in self-managed artistic spaces, whether consciously or unconsciously. In what sense? On one hand, they are constructed as a counterweight to common practices and are proposed as alternatives to the establishment. This implies the introduction of new perspectives and practices, with an attendant uncertainty regarding their results, and the future. These spaces are a gamble with results that can’t be predicted. There are calculations, desires, plans; but the alternative nature of these projects endows them with a certain degree of uncertainty. Self-managed artistic spaces are experimental and, therefore, they are places where new knowledge is constructed; in this way, they imply uncertainty regarding current actions and knowledge, as they test accepted wisdom and risk creating new wisdom, unpublished or dismissed in the past. Admitting the uncertainty of accepted knowledge, i.e., the fact that within its borders there is a place for what is ignored and there are possibilities for rectification and expansion. This generates a kind
of hunger and thirst for knowledge: the empty regions necessary for the production of new knowledge are created. In Morin’s words: ‘Just as oxygen destroyed primitive life forms until life used that corruptor as a detoxifier, thus the uncertainty that destroys simplistic knowledge, is the detoxifier of complex knowledge’ (Morin and Vallejo Gomez, 1999, p.12). Thus, self-managed artistic spaces are privileged locations for uncertainty, for facing the unknown. Their identity will probably depend greatly on their degree of acceptance of and empathy with uncertainty. Once a project becomes predictable, installing itself in the comfort of what it knows, it is almost certain that in its shadow an alternative will appear to revitalize its fields of action and knowledge. But, was it necessary to deal with this subject from the points of view of physics or philosophy? This journey was pertinent in order to remind us that although at heart we know the power that uncertainty has in our lives, we often forget it. We adhere to prejudices mixed with desire and we stop observing what’s happening. We want to cling to what we’ve planned, which doesn’t occur. Projects like those mentioned here must keep this tendency in mind from the start so they can rectify, improve and change as much as necessary. Besides knowing many things rationally, it can take a long time, to change our real and immediate perception of the world and, therefore, our way of acting and interacting with other people. So it may be simpler to speak of uncertainty than to live in full awareness of it. Although physics started speaking about uncertainty in 1925, some of its theoretical and practical consequences are only now being worked out. That is not to say that prior to the 20th Century we didn’t understand the power of uncertainty, but the modern Western world had forged the hope that it would be able to control life to such a degree as to minimize uncertainty almost completely. Uncertainty is a constant in self-managed spaces, and so it must be understood as a part of their praxis. Taking uncertainty into account, preconceptions and private world-views are insufficient for dealing with everyday reality. The praxis of C3P allows uncertainty as a constant in its activities, and acknowledges that each new project implies continuous learning and reflection.
The praxis of C3P allows uncertainty as a constant in its activities, and acknowledges that each new project implies continuous learning and reflection. 55
Art questioned: Contemporary artistic practices
In the understanding of art proposed by UNESCO which is very similar to the one proposed by Umberto Eco (2005)9, art is variable and always depends on its time and place. People in all cultures have always, and will always, seek answers to questions related to their existence. Every culture develops means through which the insights obtained through the search for understanding are shared and communicated. Basic elements of communication are words, movements, touch, sounds, rhythms and images. In many cultures, the expressions, which communicate insights and open up room for reflection in people’s minds, are called “art”. Throughout history labels have been put on various types of artistic expressions. It is important to acknowledge the fact that even if terms such as “dance”, “music”, “drama” and “poetry” are used world-wide, the deeper meanings of such words differ between cultures (UNESCO, 2006, p. 7). In recent history art refers to the works by the great masters, tormented artists and manifestos that declared what art was …and wasn’t. Earlier in history we know that art was dedicated to kings, queens, gods, pharaohs and a long list of beings that ordered the world at that time and place. Symbolic architectural sites were built as complete spaces: the structure was fully conceived, often including decoration, music, traffic patterns, the day and time of use etc. In a nutshell, the entire life and meaning surrounding each building was pre-programmed. If we return to the present and speak about the ‘contemporary’, one of the many adjectives added to the term art, we find more questions than certainties.
…art is a reflection that extends beyond the work itself
The term “contemporary art” speaks to us specifically of our present time, but also of a way of thinking and doing: art is a reflection that extends beyond the work itself. But present time is complex. For instance, the present isn’t the same in Medellín as it is in Mexico, or in Spain or Brazil, even when we refer to the same day at the same time in each place. This mirrors the concept of space/time for which we thank the field of physics again. So contemporary art is understood differently in different regions and even in different parts of the same region. In spite of this there are elements related to contemporary practices that have been maintained and that can be identified as being held in common: the use of materials beyond those traditionally reserved for art like marble, bronze, oil paint, etc.; the inclusion of the audience in the creation of the work; the work as a continuous process or even the process itself as a work of art, and a questioning of the author’s place within the creation
of the work. Until fairly recently the author was considered to be solely the person who created the work, but modern art and technology have meant that the physical part of the work may no longer be the privilege of its author. Postmodernists claim that changes in behavior, assimilation and transformation regarding art are, eventually an influence on everyday life and that the changes complete a cycle and penetrate ways of making art again. In this sense, artistic recent movements are part of a complex cultural system that mixes aesthetic, practical, economical and political elements. This creates multiple movements, actions and reactions around cultural and artistic endeavors, with different values and meanings wherever they develop. This dynamic and the diversity of contemporary art is, ultimately, a response to the conceptions and practices of art passed down since the Renaissance. In 1550, the Italian Giorgio Vasari published the first edition of Le Vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori et scultori italiani. It can be said that this text was the first Western ‘art history’ to be written and it defined the guidelines for what was to come. The Renaissance conceived man as the center of the universe. Following this vision, Vasari installed the ‘artist’ at the center of the artistic universe. The Renaissance witnessed a more mimetic representationalism than that of the Middle Ages, one that would embody a more natural way of viewing the world. Later, this humanism would acquire nuances and be reinforced through the Cartesian model, i.e. ‘what is placed at the center of the explanation of human history is man […] as a subject, man as thought, man as subjectivity […] now subjectivity provides the foundation for everything that exists’ (Feinmann, Chap. 2, Temp. 1, 2008). It can be argued that René Descartes marks the beginning of modern thought. Acknowledging this, it is during the first half of the 17th Century that one can see how realism comes to the fore within artistic representations, even in the religious art of the CounterReformation. It is in this period that the emerging bourgeoisie began to appear representing biblical characters. At the same time, in Protestant countries, iconoclasm caused religious topics to decline as the axis of artistic creation, and art moved closer to the world that people knew. Still, lives, war scenes, and moreover, everyday city life became part of the repertoire of artists like Rembrandt. The development of modern Western societies was predicated upon the idea that man could be the center of the world, and that it was possible to find truth based on his perception. In the long run, this generated a series of divisions where history was told from a single perspective,
and was presented as being unique. The tendency was to silence other visions of the world as it considered them erroneous. The same thing happened to art. The history of art has largely been a European phenomenon, cataloguing foreign artistic expressions with certain given names: popular art, pre-Columbian art, African art, etc., while Art with a capital ‘A’ only included European expressions. This established a dynamic wherein one artistic current was played off against another, generating movements that, in turn, gave rise to change. In the first half of the 20th Century, these successions occurred more rapidly; in order to keep the train in motion, change had to be constant. Thus, the history of art pits Cubism against Surrealism and the latter against Dadaism, which in turn is contradicted by Constructivism, and so on until the end of the ‘-isms’. A good example of this phenomenon would be the Impressionists, who were concerned with light and the way it could be represented within paintings. The fauves took that idea and then concerned themselves with the use of color. Constructivists focused on form and color and they believed in the essential and the pure: straight lines and basic colors. The rationale of this succession of styles was to appropriate a single formal element and to develop it until reaching its ultimate consequences. This process didn’t just open up an enormous gap between artists and the public because of this specialized content, it also focused on very specific topics and based the work on prior explorations by other artists. The value of the art exchange shot up after the second half of the 20th Century. Thus, more and more conceptually challenging work was produced, with materials traditionally unused in the arts. A high degree of thematic or conceptual specialization held sway, which therefore caused a lack of meaning for those without any art training. The art world started moving toward a dynamic of financial speculation and certain works exploded in economic value. This framework of specialization and merchandizing is where many contemporary art movements find a home, especially in Latin America. This process is also possible thanks to recent changes in the concepts of ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ in all fields of knowledge. During the 19th Century and a good part of the 20th, when knowledge was divided into different disciplines, the global scientific context opened up. This led to certain changes in the questions asked as well as the way they are proposed. This promoted more communication between the different
disciplines, which doesn’t just lead to new ways of asking questions but to questioning the discipline itself.
This growing interdisciplinary relationship has created more open and collaborative research… So now we see the rise of multidiscipline, inter-discipline and transdiscipline, distinguished mainly by the degree of connection between the component parts that congregate around a topic. Multidiscipline is a transfer of methods targeting practical applications; whereas inter-discipline is more epistemological in nature, sharing theories while searching for new knowledge. Finally, trans-discipline produces new disciplines by applying methods belonging to one in the fields of others (Pereira Filho and Da Silva Garcia, 2007). This growing interdisciplinary relationship has created more open and collaborative research where different points of view, measurement and examination can come together in a quest for understanding. Within the arts, these collaborations can work on different levels and have varied repercussions. This phenomenon is not entirely novel since elements of scientific knowledge have always been used for creating works of art: the mathematics used to take astronomical measurements are the same used to create works using perspective and the golden ratio.
Scientific and technological progress always influences the treatment of works of art, both in their technical form and in the conceptual process behind their creation. As Ball (2003) mentions, purple was one of the most complicated colors to obtain, which led to its use being restricted to religion and royalty. In pictorial and architectural works, the color purple has traditionally been linked to spirituality. So although art can be seen as a discrete discipline its topics and strategies are often tied to the technological, scientific and philosophical elements of its time.
It seems evident that, today, art is stretching or even losing its boundaries. The ‘Fine Arts’ may once have been differentiated disciplines with precise techniques and methods, but artistic practices in the second half of the 20th Century have clearly challenged that model. Visual and performing arts became fused within ‘performances’, photography ceased to be objective and became a continuous post-production of image manipulation, while painting fused with sculpture in collages. A current definition of art includes elements that may seem disparate, like dance and painting, theater and web art: expressions that at first glance may seem separate but really have several points in common:
a) Subjectivity: in both the disposition and selection of the message, and in its reception. An author makes an initial proposal and the audience, now participants, is free to take away any message it finds in the work. b) Emotion: As these are messages deriving from personal experience (in a field, a topic or situation), their transmission is based mainly on the sensations arising around the proposed experience, and other reflections and ideas then derive from it. c) Meaning: Since artistic expressions are often emotional and subjective experiences. Acknowledging this, these expressions and even their referents can be endowed with meaning and value, and may even create stakeholders that can use the work as an expression of their own feelings and knowledge. In this manner, the process becomes a part of the message, and the spectator becomes a part of both. Art ceases to be a closed system with a beginning (the artist), an end (the spectator) and a one way relationship mediated by the work; it is transformed into an open system with multiple possibilities for action and interaction. The work of art and its creator or receiver are simply parts of the same cultural event that is art and can only be explained based on the context within which their actions are performed. The esthetic experience is therefore not an entirely individual issue (Perez-Soba, 2005, p. 475). This is how community-based practices gain ground within the art world and declare the boundaries between art and education open, seeking to create shared reflections between artists and participants. These practices arenâ€™t limited solely to courses or workshops. They can include events that seek to discover ideas, needs, feelings, meanings and values. These discoveries are not just for the artist, but for everyone involved; this permits an exploration of artistic and cultural concepts beyond those of traditional institutions. C3P is situated within this new framework, incorporating a simple concept; the question. A good example is a project called â€˜Questioning Contemporary Artâ€™ that asked people from all walks of life what contemporary art meant to them. They published a document based on the responses.
An examination of the word “question” is in order. It comes from the Latin quaestionare, derived from the term quaestio, that means ‘inquiry, interrogation, the action of searching’. This word was used in legal terminology and referred to the investigations required for a trial. In Roman times the main form of investigation was by asking, and thus quaestio became synonymous with interrogation. In rhetoric, the word quaestio means ‘the search for a greater truth’. A contemporary meaning is ‘to shed doubt upon or argue against proof, assertions or reasons’ (RAE). So a fundamental practice for self-managed artistic spaces is the questioning of the idea of the artist, art and its function, its use and form. This fosters the creation of work that doesn´t fit within the traditional standards of museums and galleries, and that promotes new, collective and non-specialized practices. C3P isn’t the only group that questions established ideas. The division between art and non-specialized audiences has implications on cultural and even economic levels. This has been discussed by many self-managed artistic spaces from various points of view. It is arguable that questioning may be one of the most important facets of art today. But art can’t just question itself, it must look outside of its context and ask: What is truly out there? Which people inhabit it? And, what do they ask themselves? Asking questions is a complex task. All questioning is not equal and it needs to be done with a certain rigor. Regarding the ideas and practices of art, one should examine philosophy, history, art criticism and pedagogy at the very least. Questioning implies investigation, experimentation and research if we are to take it seriously. In fact, art has always been the best pretext for experimentation. The word Art opens a door to infinite possibilities, since today the concept of art is expansive and ambiguous. Therefore, the umbrella of the arts allows us to explore fields and forms that possibly couldn’t have been considered previously. In artistic endeavors, formal or material explorations can be linked to the presentation of ideas: thinking and doing become linked. This is one of the definitions of praxis, as studied by authors like Sanchez Vasquez (2003).
Research, experimentation and its related documentation truly become valuable when they focus on a goal. In the case of the praxis at C3P, the goal is to generate meanings from people who arenâ€™t art specialists and to provide them with a space in which to share them. C3P also seeks to bring together the public and artists allowing them to share their esthetic constructions. It is often best to start at the bottom, and C3P has sought an atmosphere of minimum expression, reserving expectations that any of this will become universal. In Casa Tres Patios, the creation of meaning allows the public to approach the proposals of artists or other participants through dialog. Thus, common meanings can be arrived at, slowly start giving way to greater dialog.
Research, experimentation and its related documentation or records truly become valuable when they focus on a goal 64
[In] C3P, the goal is to generate meanings from persons who arenâ€™t art specialists and to provide them with a space in which to share them 65
Taking Pedagogy Out of Schools
Every man and every woman is an artist, not so much by choice as, so to say, by decree of universal destiny. (Zigmunt Bauman) We have placed you in the world so you could better contemplate the contents of the world. We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. (Pico della Mirandola, quoted by Marguerite Yourcernar) A DISQUIETING CONVERSATION Some years ago I participated in the organization of an event on teaching experiences in higher education because I was looking for teachers whose work could be considered significant. It was necessary to analyze it pedagogically and share it with the academic community. When I suggested to an arts teacher that she share her work at the event, she replied that it wouldn’t work, because it involved ‘very creative’ actions that couldn’t be done ‘sitting down quietly’. Her answer perplexed me. What did ‘pedagogy’ mean for her? Could it be common, when the word ‘pedagogy’ is mentioned, that art educators evoke an image of uniformed children, in passive rows, simply receiving knowledge? This was a revealing encounter. It contained many of the common mistakes inherent in our understanding of pedagogy and many of these mistakes have been used as arguments to isolate art education. The objective of this text concerns this isolation. A whole series of prejudices and stereotypes related to pedagogical knowledge become visible when we observe the way in which institutions organize the teaching of art. For example, by prescribing that anyone affiliated as a teacher in an Arts faculty, even if they are going to teach pedagogy, must have artistic experience on their résumé. This is not as common with artists, since they aren’t required to know about pedagogy, didactics or curricula to become professors. This institutional practice, not unique to this subject, accounts for the position of Arts faculties and the relationship between the Arts and pedagogical knowledge. These postures arise from certain stereotypes held by those of us trained in the Arts, particularly regarding pedagogy. One of the most structural of these stereotypes our way of understanding schooling, education and pedagogy to be synonyms. This has effects on implied teaching practices and it’s worth clarifying these terms.
…while schools are modern institutions, education has existed as a general requirement for humanity to become configured as a collective… Schooling is only one form of education. Schooling became hegemonic and it became equated with teaching, sharing and instruction.
Schooling implies regulatory practices inherited from places of confinement like school buildings. In these buildings, spaces and times are clearly differentiated through disciplinary devices like classrooms, blackboards and rows of desks. Conventionally, discourses are organized by the educational system, and at school teaching is performed upon a collective by means of an asymmetrical power relationship guided by grades, tests, evaluations, etc. At school, curricula are universalized (currently, ‘standardized’), and content is specifically organized including a specialized publishing market. (Pineau, 2001).
Education, in the broadest sense, includes any influence with which society seeks to humanize growing persons. These influences may be family, school, the State, religion, the media, and others. The definition of education and school was consolidated in modern times by authors like Kant and Rousseau. In Noguera’s history of the constitution of cultures or pedagogical traditions, he analyzes Rousseau’s definition of natural education: ‘the idea of natural education is, precisely, to open up a path for spontaneity, to allow the individual’s internal dynamic to act freely, to let things happen, to stop intervening and allow nature to act’ (2012, p. 174). Durkheim, in turn, in his book Education and Sociology, published in 1922, defines it as: …the action performed by adult generations upon those that as yet haven’t acquired a degree of maturity required for social life. Its object is to elicit and develop in the child a certain number of physical, intellectual and moral states required of him by both political society and the specific environment to which he is specifically destined (1922, p. 60).
In this sense, while schools are modern institutions, education has existed as a general requirement for humanity to become configured as a collective and has undergone historic transformations in many directions.
For example, in certain societies education has involved subordinating individuality to the privilege of the collective; in other cases, depending on historic trends, it has been understood as an art or as a science. Having reached this point, we can begin appropriating a notion of pedagogy that will allow us to critically consider its pertinence to a reflection on artistic teaching. Before this, however, we need to clarify that the concept of pedagogy differs depending upon the academic tradition we use to approach it: the Anglo-Saxon, the French or the German. However, all three traditions, except for
their cultural, conceptual and social distinctions, define what we could call a ‘modern pedagogy’ that appeared alongside public systems of instruction aimed at nationalizing education (Noguera, 2012). Schematically, Noguera describes each tradition as follows: At the heart of the Anglo-Saxon tradition is a concern for traditional curricula as a way of organizing teaching and learning content and activities; at the center of the Germanic tradition is the issue of Bildung or formation (distinct from education and instruction) and, based on this, a distinction between pedagogy (interested in general education) and didactics (focused on formation issues and on teaching and learning processes); finally, the distinctive of the French tradition is the concept of ‘education’ and the constitution, not of a single discipline but of various sciences of education (particularly sociology and psychology) at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries, from a perspective of trying to encompass the expansive problems related to the phenomenon of education (2012, p. 212). We are particularly interested in the concept of bildung, the ‘center’ of the German Humanist tradition and translated into our tongue as formation. WE ARE WHAT WE GIVE FORM TO The word formation, as used in English, is insufficient for describing the concept of bildung. Some context is useful in examining its pertinence to pedagogy particularly regarding teaching and esthetic training outside the classroom. In the words of Runge and Garces: The concept of formation alludes to the epigenetic structure of human beings that states that individuals aren’t unescapably determined by their own natural development, or by their metaphysical or religious origin, but by their own practices; i.e., individuals must determine themselves through their interactions with the world, transforming themselves and transforming it. Expressed in shifting terms, the concept of formation designates a movement by which the contents of a material and spiritual world are deployed and opened up before an individual and, in fact, define the latter, and in which the individual, likewise, is developed and opens up to that content and its connections as a reality. This openness occurs as a progressive visibility of general and categorical content, from an objective point of
view, and as a procession of experiences, appreciations and general occurrences, from the point of view of the subject (2006, p. 69). To simplify, the concept of bildung explains how, through humanization, individuals become what they are: they are constantly becoming themselves. Bauman states it as follows: …human life consists of a permanent confrontation between ‘external conditions’ (perceived as ‘reality’, by definition something that always resists, and often challenges, an agent’s will) and the designs of its ‘authors’ (authors/actors): their goal of overcoming active and passive resistance, the challenge and the inertia of the affair, and of remodeling reality according to their chosen vision of the ‘good life’ (2010, p. 69). The same author states that this understanding of human life implies that every man and every woman is, inevitably, an artist of life; but he doesn’t state this as a postulate for making life beautiful and meaningful, but as an irrefutable fact, inherent to beings with will and a choice. The term ‘art’ may have diverse meanings in Western history. For Bauman, in a liquid modern world, making life a work of art means to ‘exist in a state of permanent transformation, […] redefining and perpetually transforming oneself’ (2010, p. 92), without self-affirmation, without loyalties and without commitment. But, apart from the author’s criticism of present times, what we want to emphasize is that, allowing that human beings are malleable, we have the task of ‘giving ourselves form’, which can be explained using the German Humanist concept of ‘formation’, i.e. to make life a work of art. WORDS TO THINK ABOUT OURSELVES According to pedagogy in the German tradition humanity is formed by experience and we find connections between art and formation. Based on this we can conceptualize the things that happen in artistic teaching that don’t typically occur in school-based education or its spaces. But, why is this conceptualization important or even needed? The process of naming things, helps us intervene and consciously transform our activities. According to Meirieu, …a ‘good concept’ is precisely one that clarifies my existence and allows me to organize it, understand it, dominate it […] it can’t be substituted by prior knowledge, even if it stirs up my representations: it brings form to my experience, makes reality more comprehensible and enables me to act upon it (2002, p. 27).
Conceptualizing our teaching and formation practices and making them evident is our intent. We have become accustomed to critical, esthetic and historic analyses of art, but examining artistic formation is relatively new, even among artists actively engaged in it. Besides making these new practices visible, reflection will allow us to name it, recognize it, absorb it into our knowledge base and explain it. Tensions or paradoxes that challenge us in our pedagogical praxis can only be resolved through practice itself. Requiring that the other’s desire to know while understanding and respecting their will (even when it manifests as resistance), is of utmost importance in this area. Moreover, as practice it is how we understand what we do. It is important that we write it down, narrate it, relate it, organize it and interpret it. When we look at our acts of formation, separated from our activities as artists, mediating our practices with a pedagogical discourse is necessary. One might examine and understand working as an art teacher, versus working as an artist. As a way of understanding the differences between these actions Mèlich quotes from Schiller as follows: When an artisan works on an unformed lump to give it a form adequate for his purposes, he is not afraid to be violent, because the nature of that which he is shaping doesn’t deserve any respect in and of it self. The artisan doesn’t thinkabout the whole while considering the parts, but rather the parts while consideration the whole that he is shaping […] Teachers and politicians act very differently, as they make humanity their subject and their task simultaneously. Here, their purpose is found in the subject, and only because the whole serves the parts can the parts come together as a whole. A politician must approach his subject with a very different respect than the artist shows for his, not subjectively, nor provoking an effect that could trick the senses, but objectively, favoring the inner essence of the man, he must preserve the uniqueness and personality of his subject (1997, p. 162). Assuming we are, according to Bauman, simultaneously malleable and autonomous, artists of life, and recognizing ourselves as human beings, our pedagogical praxis must acquire the same value as our artistic praxis. This would be the way in which we construct an identity as teachers, as well as artists, understanding that ‘our identities (i.e., the answer to questions like “Who am I?” “What is my place in the world?” and “Why am I here?”) need to be created in the same way as works of art” (Bauman, 2010, p. 70).
We might ask ourselves: What part of our training as artists has the potential to be used in our activities as educators? And, further: How is our identity transformed in this process of bringing together subjectivities? Recalling the response of that arts teacher who didnâ€™t think of herself as a pedagogue because, for her, pedagogy excluded creativity. Surely she does not mean that she does not think about, or question herself about what she does when she teaches. We want to point out that the consideration of appropriating different [creative] concepts could empower us while making those same reflections.
Assuming we are [â€Ś] simultaneously malleable and autonomous, 72
artists of life, and recognizing ourselves as human beings, our pedagogical praxis must acquire the same value as our artistic praxis. 73
Art and Pedagogy: A praxis in context
Here, in Latin America, we canâ€™t afford the luxury of not making education a practice of freedom. (Pablo Gentili)
Pedagogy can be understood as the study of education, a discipline that organizes and establishes a system for educational events that has several facets. These include the constructivist perspective, which studies the relation between knowledge and reality, stating that reality is defined by individual meanings co-constructed between individuals and their surroundings (Zubiria, 2004, p. 16). On the other hand, pedagogy as a science of education concerns itself with teaching methods and classroom strategies as mechanisms for reproducing ideologies and as one of the ways in which societyâ€™s relations are maintained (GĂłmez, 2005); It can also be a means for refuting dominant ideologies. In general terms, pedagogy is a means of intervening the world (Freire, 2004b). In all these respects, art and pedagogy have points in common. In the case of the praxis of C3P, pedagogy has been an essential element of its construction, grounded in the idea that the community out of individual subjectivities constructs meaning. It has developed reflections on pedagogical activities that seek another understanding of pedagogy: teaching strategies that, based on art, can generally facilitate intervening worldviews and social relations. The relationship between transformative pedagogies and art is still in the experimental stage and is a fairly recent practice. In his text A History of Art Education (2002), Arthur Efland recounts the inclusion of the arts in education. In most cases, this inclusion has had economic motives, which in turn dictated the guidelines for art education curriculums. Technically drafted requirements from industry influenced industrial and graphic design leading to the practical aspects of the arts gradually being included in modern education, where previously they had been excluded (Efland, 2002). The needs of contemporary education have not changed entirely. Frequently in the government study plans, the relevance of subjects related to practical functions, such as mathematics and language, is primary, eclipsing subjects that favor reflection, such as philosophy or the arts.
Many times the arts aren’t even included in this second group, because they are not held in the same esteem as history or philosophy, for instance. Due to the focus they are denied, they acquire a recreational character, seen as nothing more than handicrafts and only useful for filling certain empty spaces. The treatment of the arts in education takes a unique turn in Latin America because, according to Arriarán (1997) in his text The Philosophy of Post-modernity, the processes of modernity in Latin America have occurred differently than in Europe. This distinction is important since colonized countries have functional rationales that differ from the colonizers. In Latin American contexts, the dynamics between property owners and workers or the relationships of the population with their cultural heritage respond to specific needs. Latin America’s cultural heritage has driven the adoption of forms that were not its own and that, therefore, superseded significant original forms. Many times this occurred in a violent manner, either directly or indirectly. Consequently, Latin America’s current cultural heritage is a mixture of what it has assimilated from external cultures and what it has reclaimed from its local symbolism. This mixture is made evident in the region’s educational tradition. Thus, the idea that teaching is a manifestation of an educator’s political posture can be felt strongly in Latin America, where official educational models are imports. Their denial, adaptation or acceptance, then, implies a political posture, either conscious or unconscious, regarding their origin. In this sense, taking artistic praxis into the terrain of pedagogy implies a political posture; it means taking a position regarding the reality of one’s context. A political posture is evident in the goal of carrying out positive transformation (Casa Tres Patios Strategic Plan, 2014), as this supposes that negative elements can be identified in reality implying the goal of overcoming them in some way. In this case, through artistic-pedagogical praxis, using the tools of the arts to develop a pedagogical praxis is perceived as necessary. A base has clearly been identified for Casa Tres Patios practice in one of the proposals of Paulo Freire, who emphasized the importance local education as a starting point and understanding that context has an influence on the way education is provided and received.
… art and its inherent flexibility give us access to new types of symbols, a potentially new vocabulary. In his Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1975), Freire speaks, precisely, of taking into account what is happening on a macro level to end oppression, while acquiring an awareness of the elements and tools provided by the environment. Freire, therefore, doesn’t think about pedagogy in the abstract, but places it within a concrete space with precise needs, which requires a way of thinking that is completely linked to practices.
But this approach isn’t exclusive to Freire. In Latin America one can see a trend of thought through action. José Pablo Feinmman, in his series Philosophy here and now, on the Argentinian television channel Encuentro, analyzes philosophical thought in Latin America and proposes that it is through praxis, understood as actions that contain reflections within them, that Latin American thought is made manifest. This is why purely philosophical texts are scant compared to Europe, and generally relate to concrete or specific actions that act as mirrors, reflecting the needs of the moment. The arts tend to share an internal logic in which action is a part of thought and profoundly related to context. The arts, like teaching, allow for questioning which has led pedagogues and artists to seek local stories, sometimes their own stories, by taking advantage of the arts to reconfigure meanings using existing images and forms. Since words and letters are limited in their capacity to signify, art and its inherent flexibility give us access to new types of symbols, a potentially new vocabulary.
In this regard, the work proposed by Ana Mae Barbosa in 1987, the ‘triangular method’, is a way of adapting certain proposals arising from the perspective of ‘Discipline Based Art Education – DBAE’ (Pérez-Soba, 2005) to the local context. Thus, she points out that both reading and artistic creation are traversed by context, which is fundamental for understanding them. The text Education in Postmodern Art (Efland, Freedman & Stuhr, 2003) states that the problem the social sciences come up against when they try to describe foreign cultures, is that these descriptions always relate more closely to the culture of the researcher than to culture being observed. Freire also touches upon this issue, but he focuses on the relationship between the educator and the student: when the educator presents himself before the student with his own worldview, his discourse refers to his own reality, and not to the student’s.
For Freire, the answer to this problem lies in assuming that the educator and the student complement each other. He states the relationships in educator-student and student-educator terms, such that each somehow permeates the other, establishing a horizontal relationship in which both sides are affected by the exchange. Through the arts, these relationships can be established based on the constructions and the common experiences they foster. In Greek, the word corresponding to experience is ekperia. The particle ek refers to the ‘habitation or source of something’ and peria refers to a ‘test, assay or intent’ (García Olvera, 2000). Therefore, experience is what comes after peria, based on the fact that it occurs and is perceived by the senses: empirics. Clearly, after an event occurs a vision exists of the phenomena, that is, experience, which, in turn, fosters learning. Fernando Bárcena, in The reflexive experience in education (2005), speaks of the importance of experience, which does not have to be linked to art, as an essential part of the way in which learning occurs, since it is not possible to state the moment at which something was learned, but one knows that an event or occurrence fostered that learning. There is a ‘before’ and ‘after’ to such an experience. The pedagogical proposal of ‘art in context’ seeks experiences that will break the isolation art has experienced for so long. One ideal of modern art was to return art to people’s daily lives; pop art with its ready-mades and its exaltation of consumer culture had the opposite effect. However, community practices, that are gaining momentum around the world, provide hope that art may return to everyday life as the ritual poetic part that was stolen from mankind. Like art and beauty, freedom is a pliable concept that depends on its context. But when we talk about liberation pedagogy and the freedom afforded by education, it’s clear that an approach to this topic is lacking. Freire’s posture was questioning, propositional and liberating regarding the events that the educational and economic systems have promoted in Latin America. According to Stella Accorinti’s (2002) interpretation, for both Freire (and Matthew Lipman) ‘freedom is the freedom to learn how to think and to be in communities of dialog, of investigation, of research. It is the project that leads human beings to know themselves and to re-know others’ (p. 37). This type of freedom can be promoted with artistic practices within education or, better, with education from the arts (Efland et al., 2002; Jiménez, Aguirre & Pimentel, 2009).
This version of freedom, which is not necessarily political, is a way of expressing deficiencies in the surrounding context. The somewhat risky proposal is that the arts might provide the necessary space for this recognition to arise: …the arts teach children that their personal seal is important and that there are several answers to questions and varied solutions to problems. In the arts there’s more than one way of interpreting a musical score, more than one way of describing a painting or a sculpture, more than one correct way to perform a dance, more than one meaning to the poetic description of a person or a situation. In the arts, diversity and variability have a central place. This is one of the lessons education can learn from the arts (Einser, 2002, p. 240). Something as simple as allowing children to express themselves in the way that best suits them can make a great difference in both their expression and interaction with others. In workshops given in Mexico to children between 6 and 10 years old, this author has observed that promoting and encouraging children to draw made them curious to explore things not necessarily related to Art like the meaning of the figures represented or the reason something in particular is drawn or painted (Lazarín, 2014). Beyond the postulates related to citizen construction, Freire’s formation of freedom is one of the foundations for artistic education (as conceived by Einser, Efland or Aguirre, among others), to provide hope for building or rebuilding the collective imagination and establishing relationships. Having come this far, another essential topic must be mentioned which is humility. José Mujica, the President of Uruguay until 2014, speaks of humility as an important aspect of his rise to the government. His reflections help explain the fact that, for several years now, the Latin American Left has proposed revolutions not of armed revolt but rather, slower transformations that might be more sustainable and beneficial in the long term. Mujica speaks of the changes that fostered his own rise to power and the rise of Dilma Rousseff, after having fought dictatorships from the underground. One of these changes is related to humility:
We have changed, we have lost arrogance and gained humility, we know we are less absolute, we’re not going to reach the ‘Arc de Triomphe’, we’re not going to reach the ‘Absolutely Liberating Revolution’, the owner of the absolute future and capable of doing away with all evils, no. We’re going to climb up some steps and others will have to follow (Mujica, interview granted to Emir Sader, 2013). It would be worth asking whether we artist-pedagogues are capable of this humility.
â€Śthe arts teach children that their personal seal is important and that there are several answers to questions and varied solutions to problems. 81
Literature, Informal Education and Vulnerable Groups: Some ideas based on and experience in a womenâ€™s prison in Mexico D.F.10
On the 28th of each month, in the Mexico City metro, I meet with a crowd of followers of Saint Jude Thaddeus on their way to the Church of Saint Hippolyte, at the intersection of Avenida Hidalgo and Paseo de la Reforma, to worship their patron saint of lost causes. My journey to the University Citadel is, at least in two interesting ways, the reverse of this pilgrimage. On the one hand, our activities take us in opposite directions from Line 3. On the other, and especially because most of the devotees are school-age youths, I can’t avoid thinking that this contrary movement – some towards the north of the city, others towards the south - replicates the failure of a cause that was never won. The project of modernity had promised access to the educational system as a fundamental right for all citizens. The failure to fulfill this promise, for many historical and geopolitical reasons, may be ultimately explained by the functional role inequality plays in the system-world. Mexico’s serious institutional educational crisis has the greatest impact on a particularly vulnerable group, those destined for situations of poverty, precariousness and violence. But ‘destined’ doesn’t mean ‘irremediably condemned’. Mexico’s formal education problems mean that large sectors of the population are marginalized. And yet, some manage even on the margins of the system: they live, resist, work, enjoy, and are formed in their own dignity. How does this happen? Where? Why are some capable of disrupting, through everyday policies, the logic of a system that insists on turning them into garbage? What types of strategies, solidarities and partnerships can we create to strengthen the proliferation of this valuable and resistant knowledge in spite of everything? These are some important questions for a radical critique of educational vulnerability that encouraged me to participate in several phases of an action-research project carried out by the University Gender Studies Program (PUEG) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), in the Social Re-adaptation Center (CERESO) for women in Santa Martha Acatitla, in Mexico, Federal District.11 In order to share my experience in this publication I have divided this text into two sections. First, I will give a general overview of the pedagogical-creative project PUEG carried out in the Santa Martha Acatitla women’s prison. Then, based on my own critical reflections related to one of the reading workshops that were a part of the overall project, I will introduce several ideas that can strengthen the horizontal relationships between participants and facilitators in informal education spaces that aspire to foster opportunities for empowerment and exercising citizenship through art, literature and other forms of creativity. I will then return to these two fundamental concepts for building a critical pedagogy.
What types of strategies, solidarities and partnerships can we create to strengthen the proliferation of this valuable OVERVIEW OF A PEDAGOGICAL-CREATIVE PROJECT IN A WOMEN’S PRISON
In 2009, PUEG went into the Santa Martha prison to work with inmates in two important symbolic spaces: the Large and Small Rooms. During 2009 and 2010, this academic institution worked in the Large Room, the space in which sentenced women receive visitors; and in 2011, it implemented the project in the Small Room, the place where women who are awaiting sentencing receive visitors. The spiral staircases that provide access to each of these rooms are called the ‘snails’. The work PUEG promoted focused on the collective creation of two large murals in the spaces opened up by these ‘snails’.
A third mural, Paths and Forms of Freedom, located in the waiting room and in the section closest to the street, was inaugurated in November 2012. Through this pedagogical-creative project we sought to create a space for informal education for women affected by educational exclusion and penitentiary marginalization.12 We intended to promote forms of empowerment and cultural citizenship13 through a creative exercise that took place in three parts: personal narrative workshops, painting workshops and the collective creation of a large mural. Revisiting the notion of empowerment: ‘individuals are empowered when they are able to maximize the opportunities available to them without constraints’ (Rowlands, 1997, p.13). For maximization of opportunities to exist in non-formal knowledge and learning, an efficient combination of several factors must be activated. These are variables that refer to two different qualities: substantive (not the primary cause of the empowerment effect but rather its main result) and instrumental (the primary cause that triggers the empowerment from which possibilities for substantive factors arise). So the substantive factors enabled by empowerment processes are subordinate to an initial activation of the instrumental factors. Let’s see how this is made operational. SUBSTANTIVE FACTORS.
• Promote autonomy, self-realization person’s own abilities.
• Produce processes of reflection that question internalized forms of oppression and promote the recognition of a person’s own interests as part of a social group.
and resistant knowledge in spite of everything?
• Activate material and psychological conditions for decisionmaking. • Help resolve conflicts and problems.
• Enable personal and collective actions according to interests, desires and decisions. • Create cohesion and social fabric (Puiggrós & Gómez, 1992).
• Non-formal knowledge must feel significant, locally useful (Puiggrós & Gómez, 1992).
• Are motivating (Schmelkes, 2008).
• Are based on experience, understood as the knowledge, skills, values and affections acquired by individuals throughout their life through different processes of formation (Freire, 2009; Schmelkes, 2008). • Are produced by emotional and cognitive interactions with others (Schmelkes, 2008). • Are based on the ability to observe and imitate what’s perceived as relevant behavior in others (Bandura, 1977). • Mobilize inductive-deductive, analogic, inferential and predictive processes within mental models (Márquez & Anzola, 2008). • Are produced in an environment of collaboration and trust (Marsick & Volpe, 1999).
Designing informal education projects proposes specific challenges related to activating instrumental factors that guarantee processes of empowerment within vulnerable groups. An informal education process must contemplate a design that combines flexibility to seriously and simultaneously encourage participation by the individuals involved including territorial planning of educational actions (Sarramona, Vázquez & Colom, 1998). The territorial focus considers the individual’s local context and community to be an essential starting point (Freire, 2009), understanding that learning is constructed by interactions between human and non-human actors within an environment (Schmelkes, 2008).
An informal education process must contemplate a design that combines flexibility
Consequently, an initial diagnostic of the educational territory to be intervened must adapt, depending on the particular characteristics of the space (institutional, like a prison, or non-institutional, like a rural community), to the following criteria (Sarramona, Vázquez & Colom, 1998): • Ecology.
• Local and/or institutional history.
• Cultural ecosystem: norms, values and attitudes.
• Social ecosystem: intersectional variables (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, age, religion, etc.), leaders, etc. • Material resources.
• Once all the relevant territorial information is available, informal pedagogical strategies must be designed before being proposed (Sarramona, Vázquez & Colom, 1998): • Objectives: What concrete goals related to enlivening informal knowledge and learning are aspired to? • Content: What aspects are to be approached to achieve the established objectives? In general terms, content must be transferable ‘i.e., adapted to the context and to the subjects’ experiences’, and agreed upon between external actors and the community and applicable to the needs, interests and desires of individuals. • Methods: What pedagogical strategies will be employed with regard to context, objectives and content?14
• Media: What material will be used to facilitate the formative process? • Activities: What concrete tasks will be carried out, according to the previously designed aspects, as part of the planning process?
LITERATURE AND PERSONAL NARRATIVE: AN EXAMPLE AND A CRITICAL REFLECTION. I worked for nearly four years as a facilitator for several sessions of the personal narratives workshop, within the framework of this long-term project, which consisted of two types of workshops that were realized prior to the collective creation of three murals. The
overall objective was to examine the possibilities for empowerment and resistance that can be generated within the confines of a prison. This focus arises from progressive educational thought, including the Popular Education in Latin American and Critical Pedagogy movements, that take into account all informal formative knowledge and learning: ‘… it’s necessary that educators understand more fully how people learn through concrete social relationships, from the positions of the body, from the construction of habits and intuition and from the production and investment of desire and affection’ (Giroux, 2003, p. 310). According to this bottom-up focus, it’s worth asking: How do subjects excluded from formal education know what they know? Where is this knowledge generated? What factors promote formative processes for empowerment in these subjects? I wanted to approach these questions based on reading autobiographical texts that would leverage cognitive responses of empathy and/or disidentification. From those answers, I wanted to deploy a platform for self-awareness regarding their own biography. The idea was to avoid the guilt-inducing and fatalistic tales that often make up the life histories of women in prison. The idea wasn’t to substitute those stories, but to offer alternative narratives locating the subject in a landscape of circumstances that could explain her actions, decisions, current circumstances, and moreover, mobilize opportunities for positive change and new opportunities in the future.
[…] including territorial planning of educational actions
Let’s consider the short story ‘Girl’, by the Antiguan writer Jamaica Kincaid, which we read during one of the sessions.15 This exercise in self-fiction by Kincaid, structured as a series of family commands regarding the ‘ought-to-be’ of a little girl, unleashed an interesting group discussion about gender socialization (many times interspersed with comments about class, race and sexuality) during the childhood and youth of the participants. Although the results were very satisfactory, by the end of my participation in this reading workshop I couldn’t help but be concerned about the limitations that, in spite of the good intentions of our participatory research-action model (Fals Borda & Rodriguez Brandao, 1987), I had identified during the course of the sessions. In reality, these limitations seemed ill defined because we had doubtlessly achieved several of our initial objectives: • Promotion of critical, agency, empowerment and transformative processes in the subjects involved. • A horizontal, dialog-based and collective educational process.
• A methodology that used on an analogical-inductive-deductive model and, based on the experience and knowledge of the subject, moved from the specific to the general (Schmelkes, 2008). I wondered if the fact that I had proposed the readings in the workshop was a gesture that defined a particular direction – not necessarily wrong but certainly marked by my own cultural capital and my expectations – for the ‘climate’ of the resulting group discussions. So I considered the reading practices of the inmates during their years behind bars. Spontaneously, many of them had already talked to me about magazines, newspapers, self-help books, erotic, romantic and gothic literature, thrillers, The Bible, the books of the angels, Paulo Coelho, Carlos Castañeda, Fifty Shades of Gray, Twilight, etc. I think a methodological challenge worth exploring in informal education workshops consists of taking seriously the materials that arise from the everyday practices of participants including reading printed material, audiovisuals, and ultimately all available media. This may be a way of paying productive attention to the subjects’ experience, to their ‘knowledge from their own experience’ (Freire, 2009, p. 66), which is often belittled by authorized knowledge as residual and insignificant. In this sense, to refer to each individual’s experience supposes an authentic phenomenology of education, by taking into account knowledge, learning, values, attitudes and desires driven by everyday life (Schmelkes, 2008).
to refer to each individual’s experience supposes 88
an authentic phenomenology of education, by taking into account knowledge, learning, values, attitudes and desires driven by everyday life 89
1…2…3 Patios: Notes on Education at Casa Tres Patios
C3P has sought to establish a closer relationship with what was once known as the ‘audience’. Casa Tres Patios is, for its members, ‘The House’ (La Casa). This is the name given to it by those that inhabit, construct and think about it every day; understanding it not just as a physical space but as an idea, a project. This chapter covers, in greater depth than previous ones, the precise experience of Casa Tres Patios. The chapter that covers the pedagogical program will be exclusively dedicated to it. So Casa Tres Patios will appear repeatedly under its familiar name, ‘The House’, inviting readers to come inside, deep inside, and get to know its nooks and crannies. Today, the physical house where the foundation is located only has two patios; but it’s far from incomplete. The third patio exists and we work hard within it: the third patio can be found when you walk through the main door and go outside. So the question of the third patio has been resolved. That enormous third patio that houses all the participants that don’t physically fit inside the House is what provides nourishment for everything that goes on inside; Casa Tres Patios couldn’t be understood without the relationships it has created in the outside world.
C3P has sought to establish a closer relationship with what was once known as the ‘audience’. Now, years after our first approaches, there exists a search for names, for relationships, for different languages. How do we approach the inhabitants of the third patio? Until now it seems that formation (education) is the answer. In the praxis documented by this text the move toward formation was gradual; successive projects showed an ever greater need to generate rapprochement with the people of the local territory, moving beyond formation by finding an audience for the institution and proposing it, instead, as a way to cohabit that territory.
In practical terms, when we speak about formation, we refer to workshops, courses, conversations, university internships and many other activities that have led the foundation to realize that it is interested in, opening up shared, collaborative spaces for experimentation. Beyond these formative spaces, C3P understands education as a continuous process of learning, for those that attend the workshops as well as for those who offer them. The concept of formation (bildung) is linked to the German tradition, which as mentioned by Silvana Mejía in an earlier chapter, states that formation is possible insofar as people are malleable and unfinished16.
Comments by Luz Amparo Villegas may prove useful: Goethe conceives of formation as a journey towards knowledge and culture with a goal that changes as the journey’s thresholds change such that one is always in the process of formation yet never fully formed (2008, p. 4). According to this idea of formation, there is always the possibility of acquiring new knowledge and even new forms of knowing. This can expand boundaries within artistic practice and theory. Alternative movements of any type can respond to this ‘formative’ rationale. As mentioned previously, the boom of self-managed artistic spaces is related in most cases to the need for alternatives to large institutions, mainly State-owned, that promote or ‘sell’ culture. The reimagining of concepts such as ‘art’ and ‘culture’ whose nontraditional forms is well served by self-managed artistic spaces. The presentation of installations or interventions in a space and calling them art implies reflection on the forms of art, thus opening up new possibilities for interpretation. The need for alternate spaces is also related to the evolution of art, in which a space has opened up for the audience to become a cocreator in the artistic process. Relational, process-based works, performances, have allowed the audience to become a participant or even an author of the works, an idea explored by Umberto Eco in The Open Work: … contemporary poetics, by proposing artistic structures that require a particular autonomous commitment from the user, many times a reconstruction, always variable, of the proposed material, reflect a general trend in our culture towards processes that, instead of a unique, necessary sequence of events, establish, as a probability field, a situational ‘ambiguity’ capable of stimulating ever different attitudes of action or interpretation (1992, p. 62). This type of proposal, common to the visual arts, is what allows cocreation with the audience. But, as Eco states, it’s not just poetics, or art in general: our entire culture tends toward a certain ambiguity. We might say that this ambiguity translates, among other phenomena, into openings along the borders of knowledge and practice, creating opportunities for the arts and artists to enter into fields perhaps foreign to them. Primary among these fields is education - a continuous and unfinished process, which is, for C3P most interesting.
Primary among these fields is education a continuous and unfinished process, which is, for C3P most interesting.
There are various levels of formation at which self-managed artistic spaces become involved: the formation of the audience, by means of workshops and conversations, for instance, which eventually become evident allowing the “audience” to become a participant. Each institution has the freedom, arguably a need, to decide where it will find its participants. Typically, they work with a specialized audience, coming from art, philosophy, design and literature schools as well as university faculties of these disciplines and, depending on the topics covered by each institution, space is opened up that will strengthen research into and construction of the artist’s or the proposal’s discourse. In some cases though, basic formation is offered for non-specialized audiences i.e. workshops and beginners’ courses in theater, dance and the fine arts. This can create foundations for more complex knowledge and can endow different audiences with the tools needed to establish relationships with different cultural and artistic manifestations. The ease with which the arts take up and absorb content from other areas of knowledge (in the midst of a general cultural trend in this direction) allows self-managed artistic spaces to become not only alternative spaces for forming audiences, but to also establish relationships with non-specialized audiences, or audiences that specialize in other areas. Using the tools of the arts, building and rebuilding ideas and concepts leads to fresh realities. Another level of formation allows people to approach works in a different way than they could in museums – which, admittedly have modified their practices in the spectators’ favor by promoting a closer contact with the work and the artist, facilitating a dialog between subjectivities and, therefore, their reflections and reconstructions. The mere presence of self-managed artistic spaces and their capacity for bringing together diverse audiences is part of this formation, opening up possibilities for different forms of culture and the arts. Many elements mentioned throughout this book apply to the construction of self-managed artistic spaces in general, while seeking closer relationships with non-specialized audiences who can be turned into participants in and even co-creators of varied projects. This is the sense in which C3P has chosen to offer formation.
Regarding co-creation, the formation proposed by C3P is reimagining the idea of ‘workshops’, focusing on a joint development of skills and knowledge, a task that often falls outside the arts Besides recreating and re-signifying the elements in its surroundings, tools are sought that are traditionally easy to develop within the arts like observation, questioning and reflection; hoping they can be applied to other areas of everyday life.
It may be true that a global context exists, based mainly on the arts, which has allowed us to formulate this task. In practice honoring the participants, when creating formation processes that are more complex, implies deeper relationships. The institutional and individual structures that have worked in the past may survive as valid forms for reaction and relation, but if we want to construct new values and meanings together, we might want to break down these structures. For example, traditional schooling assumes rules as basic as keeping quiet during class, and it is normal to expect that an educator trained in this tradition will reproduce this logic in his or her presentations. So, if the objective is to build knowledge, why would we want to enforce the idea of keeping quiet? We believe we need a new teaching rationale. The world of schooling shouldn’t just mean ‘receiving’ knowledge from a teacher; it also implies that knowledge requires approval from the educational institution. It seems evident that knowing, and above all having knowledge don’t really have to be actions approved by a school or an institution, so long as they generate transformations and solutions within the lives of those involved. Further, formation in a self-managed artistic space shouldn’t just focus on its own activities, it should value the knowledge acquired outside the classroom from personal and collective experiences. This posture is difficult to sustain in practice because the structures that have formed us, personally and collectively, can lead us to believe that we need institutionalized knowledge and even approval. This rationale is valid to the extent that a collective construction of knowledge requires agreement but modern structures have turned these agreements into generalizations that exclude many types of knowledge that don’t follow educational convention. In this process, ‘experience’ was impoverished as it found itself mediated and intervened upon by a series of labels and discourses. We end up consuming categories, classifications, but are anesthetized to experience’ (Gil Marin, s.p.). So in order to disarticulate traditional structures, we must be supported by experience, which is what generates change, especially regarding what Canclini calls the ‘esthetic experience’, which by no means is exclusive to the arts: …an esthetic experience exists when we receive a message in a manner other than an advertisement or through political, moral or religious discourse. I.e.: where we aren’t offered a solution, but rather the feeling that there’s something unresolved with which we can create an experience of a different type (Oybin, 2013, paragraph 6).
Thus, esthetic experience, with its open character, is an opportunity for reflecting on events that occur around us, and the formation that self-managed artistic spaces achieve is called upon to expand the spectrum of this reflection. Work by artists, regardless of where they live or practice, allows the audience to put its construction of reality into perspective, which opens the door to countless possibilities, uncertainty and questioning. The formation proposed in this text is framed by philosophies and methods that emphasize three main elements: a) The people involved in the formation process: These include children, professors, artists or â€˜the public at largeâ€™. Positions like those of Paulo Freire (2004a), Reggio Emilia, and others emphasize the importance of giving individuals a place in the formation process. This assumes that the individuals who participate in this process are seeking and want to share their knowledge. b) The environment surrounding the process: Theories on art and artistic education have emphasized that context is an important in creating and reading works because it provides guidelines for establishing values, meaning and content that generate individual and collective doubts and knowledge. In this regard, context is an essential part of formation, not just in the field of the arts, but also as a way of improving relationships with the environment, as expanded upon by Barbosa in her triangular proposal (Azar, 201). It is from the environment-territory-context that prejudices arise (related to topics as well as people) and that deserve to be questioned during the formation process. c) The relations established between the various actors: These include both individuals and the environment and these are the boundaries within which we work, recreating and rebuilding them. Contextualization is a key way in which relations between individuals and their environment can start being built, and through it we can define where, to what place or precise goal, our efforts will lead (Perez-Soba, 2005). Formation, therefore, as proposed at C3P, is founded on the fact that, although discourses and stories are mediated by the subjects that express and/or receive them, it is possible to find points of agreement that will permit a praxis to exist. Thus the practices in C3P are based on the meeting of subjectivities that risk testing their hypotheses regarding these alternatives. This is why uncertainty is a constant, but the possibilities provide a wide enough margin for acting and waiting for results.
A final aspect worth noting is the function of artistic education as a tool for recreating Latin America’s identity. This is Perez Bioti’s proposal, according to which the region contains as many points in common as it does divergences, but ‘art, as it includes emotion and reason, and because it creates a special relationship from subjectivity to subjectivity, can help Latin America towards a necessary change in self-image’ (Perez Bioti, 1992, s.p.). Thus, faced with established signifiers that don’t favor the idea of sustainable societies, art has the option of generating new meaning. This means, of course, questioning established forms of relating and, therefore, of power, according to a recognition of collective needs. In this regard, cultural management is also an issue of power. The spaces that try to make room for rarely accepted forms, foster diversity, reflection and a selection of imaginary scenarios This can lead to a different relationship with power, since the existence of different groups responsible for ‘managing’ meaning is one way of flattening power structures.
â€Śart has the option of generating new meaning. This means, of course, questioning established forms of relating and, therefore, of powerâ€Ś
So We Donâ€™t Lose the Plot
Friends and colleagues, take pity on me, because the pigeon I caught flew out of my mouth. (From a popular song) I’d like to begin this text with the everyday Colombian expression ‘I lost the pigeon’ which is a colloquialism that means ‘I lost my train of thought’, and that shows how normal language is full of powerful images which reveal the strength of such expressions. Pure poetry can be found in life itself which stands in defiance of those who relegate poetry solely to books, and who consider any lyricism within our communication to be excessive. So that we don’t lose our train of thought - we are doing, writing and reading with campesinos in the library where I work. So that the voices and the chores of the countryside aren’t lost among our daily emergencies, we endeavor to remember and write down our memories in loving company. I feel hesitant to use words like love, and others like it, since these sentiments command so little prestige in academic or ‘serious’ conversations, since many may suspect that we belong to some silly sect. My mother has Alzheimer’s, and I watch her drift into a territory where she slowly ceases to be, where she stops finding herself, since we know that what we remember is what makes us. My mother can no longer access that; more and more, the stories that made her disappear; she walks around without direction, without names, without gestures. Having lost the faces that marked her days and the lights of some evenings when she was a girl… she wanders, holding a hand she still recognizes, in a home she no longer remembers. I believe that this digression is necessary in order to talk about what we do in seeking to understand and to not forget ourselves, to be anchored in facts and words and to be led by the firm hands of the campesinos who, as a child from village of Nazarth said, “don’t have to get everything from the supermarkets.” I believe that we are responding to this invitation from C3P, on behalf of the people that we interact with now.. I can’t say if the campesinos with whom we interact think of us a community. I will confess that before composing this text I vacillated between the need to describe who we are and what we do versus the desire to avoid going into detail, simply telling you what this thing we do is good for.
Someone said that to write is to release the silence. Maybe we try to sow together so that in silence our words can come to light.
So how does one avoid falling into self-aggrandizement, into what anyone can say about themselves, without the truth or a real connection to life? I have thought of a way to do this: I will tell the story by using the writings of our people, because while I could say anything… others can too. The ‘Laboratorio del Espíritu’ (Laboratory of the Spirit) Library and Rural Community Center is located six kilometers from El Retiro, a town in in the eastern part of Antioquia. El Retiro has a cold climate, and its inhabitants, originally small farmers and wood craftsmen, became stewards of country houses, workers in avocado orchards, and they became beneficiaries (a few) and victims (most) of an ever more voracious tourism from the city of Medellín. In the most remote villages lie the small parcels of land of those who stayed behind. They stayed behind despite a serious period of violence. Between 2000 and 2003, the zone in which we are located was in an all-out war, complete with disappearances and murders. So many people had to abandon what they owned, and today they are the faces of an exile that knows no rest.
Fourteen years ago, a librarian, not content to go to El Retiro and relax after retirement, wanted to offer the campesinos an alternative. She infected other women with her enthusiasm and they started to do different things, in the classrooms and the fields to strengthen what had survived there and to contradict it by proposing changes. These women spoke to the campesinos about respect for all life, and together they acknowledged the names of the trees and the running waters. They told stories, shared their written words, and laughed. With each other they learned about species of butterflies and the plants they survived on and many children travelled to the sea so they could walk into the great waters they previously did not know. 1,500 children received bicycles to make their paths easier. They took up needle and thread… and they started weaving bags. They made their own version of the terracotta warriors from the mud from the village of Pantanillo. Then, to gain knowledge, and this is not a tall tale, a Chinese lady taught them her name in characters they still draw in their notebooks. Some Spanish experts in conflict resolution taught them that they needed to ‘talk until they understood each other’. Many campesina women relearned how to use the food they were giving to the pigs. Over wood stoves they taught new textures and flavors to young university students. They didn’t care whether what they did was called cooking or ‘gastronomy’. As time passed there were many happy experiences. Three years ago, an old school, which not even the mayor knew about became a library that got its name from the following story as told by its director.
Gloria says that her teacher Antonio Mesa had, in his office, a sign that said: Laboratory of the Spirit. Many times, when going to the villages to carry out activities, they thank the people from the Laboratory of the ‘Holy Spirit’, and so we have to clarify that the holy spirit’s representatives are elsewhere, that we aren’t the emissaries of some religion, nor do we swim in oceans of sacred marmalade (as Estanislao Zuleta says), and that we like what Guillermo Lancheros (10 years old) said, ‘the Spirit is this artifact you possess and doesn’t appear in science texts’’; Pepino Nates, (11 years old) said: ‘A Spirit is what you need to survive the violence’. In all our workshops we read so we can meditate together, to simply do, to simply be. The people that come to the workshop knead the clay or weave the bags upon which images that are in their blood slowly appear. They sit in silence and think about nothing or everything, while, without invading or disrupting, music plays discretely and the readings liberate us through stories, like those in the Cuban tobacco factories. We participate in “The World of the Countryside in ITCs” workshops, a project awarded and financed by a European entity for training 150 campesinos in basic computing concepts. But this isn’t all, not at all. It doesn’t just mitigate our fear of computers by learning basic Internet and Word skills, it fosters community; it means encountering an easy greeting that initially is returned with a timid smile. It means recognizing that our space is dignified and clean for everyone, and that the campesinos’ initial refusal to come inside with their boots on, “because I’d make everything dirty”, makes no sense. The mud comes from their daily paths and is inconsequential. This process meant seeing them receive lessons with their dogs lying beside them because ‘how could I leave him tied up?’ Or the baby that cried and that we took to the recreation space, fortunately renamed ‘the wagon’ by the children, to read there with him, while his mother, with inexpert hands, tried to work out how the movement of the mouse matches that little arrow on the screen. Or watching them understand how to keep their avocado production accounts in Excel, so they can tell their boss how the harvest can be better counted. We read stories, poems and the logs we keep for all the workshops, where everyone can write what they like: a verse, recipes, a life story, a poem, tales from the early days of the village, ghost stories, suggestions, harsh memories of so much blood spilled, opinions, proposals. We copy what they write on the library’s blackboards so we can acknowledge each other; and their voices gain meaning and value when shared. Someone said that to write is to release the silence.
Maybe we try to sow together so that in silence our words can come to light. Sebastian Caro, 12 years old, from the Lejos del Nido village, wrote:
I I I I I
am am am am am
the the the the the
fish that swims in the rivers of mercy. river that comes from the spring of tenderness. tree that grows in the gardens of love. air that flows from the heart. water of life.
At the library we aren’t numbers. We have names and we know what each life wants to give us. In many of the workshops and in our essential housekeeping activities, Estela, who came from Medellín with her three daughters, accompanies us. They had to leave because they witnessed a crime. Natalia’s the oldest: a teenager who now runs a store and bakes the most delicious cookies, which she learned to make in a pastry course. Luisa, who’s 11, has the surprising power to cure herself through an exploration of language, i.e.: she can find and see and talk to herself and the world by writing. The youngest is Valentina, a sweet 10 year old girl, who has cerebral palsy. They arrived, uncomfortably, to sleep on the floor of the home of one of Estela’s sisters, the caretaker at a nearby farm. Some might think: How sad! But I don’t tell this story to make people feel pity. It’s a small story about a brave family that is also our family, who found alternatives and who lead us and teaches us how to look at others. We can understand what makes a boy walk ten kilometers to attend a jazz concert in our patio, not letting the lack of two thousand pesos (less than a dollar) for bus fare stop him. When Luisa first came to us she wrote: Joys I left behind in Medellín: Classmates and friends, family, joys, secrets and desires, and sometimes I think my heart, because at my grandmother’s I could yell freely. Some are pretty because others are bitter. I would talk to my grandma when she would stay alone while grandpa went to market, and I would go and pick guavas, nisperos and tangerines, and I would play mommy or school with my little cousin, and we would go out as far as possible and nothing would happen to us. We would go, go out to the saladero17 and play. We would go up a really tall hill, really tall, and we would climb up to see the house on the other side. Then we would go over the top of the hill and yell so we could create an echo.
Contrary to those that question whether affection should be part of a relationship that a reading and writing teacher establishes with those whom he or she accompanies; contrary to that idea that may still exist in the pragmatic realm, where many say that becoming interested in the other means ‘being tied to you, and then not being able to fulfill your own destiny of going with a plan and without committing yourself…’ Contrary to those, I’m convinced that one has to listen with the heart, to know what the other person is asking of you, that you aren’t. Although, in the deepest sense, you are. We have to look at the other’s face and should never see him or her as a figure and a task, and to point out the absurdity of the fact that, while they need us, we’re too busy filling out misleading figures on pieces of paper. So we read, we write, we do, and we always greet each other asking sincerely how the other is doing. Without forcing anything, each person’s tales are told in a style of writing closely tied to the way he or she speaks, without any emphasis on formality, an easy form of writing to express something and share it with others. Thus, we can know each other with greater certainty, seeking a higher life using symbols made by hand, the way they still write down a grocery list or the name of some medicine for curing a cow. In spite of the growing penetration of computers, they write with the insecure script of those for whom writing is not easy, and they struggle to find themselves in those trembling strokes, understanding the power in what they’re doing to understand their lives and untangle their path through the world. I want you to read what Valentina Garcia, 13 years old, said about writing: To write is a relief, to know that you can count on something and to know that nobody else will know about it, even if you need help. Writing is the only true friend that will always be with you wherever you are, who will always be there no matter how sad or bored you feel. Words remember what people are, what they feel, what they think, what they fear, what they have abandoned, or what they cannot live, and we try to find ourselves there. Like a kind of fever, we write about ourselves, and are amazed when we find that we’re weaving an ‘us’. We remember what we are; we propose what we want to be. This is what we do… this is what country peoples hands do with the strength of naiveté, free from any affectation of form or pretense of gesture. I remember a poem by Jose Manuel Arango, regarding that pronoun (we), which we use so frequently and so easily:
Grammatici certant We as the grammarians know is a curious pronoun It means you and I without him and also he and I without you and also he and I with you and against the rest In any event it always excludes someone From that part of we from the other the others that are us In his poem, Jose Manuel lays bare our condition. I hope that in the things that happen to us we are being integral to what we call ‘we’, beyond our assumptions. To do this we need to learn about needs, perceive doubts, share joys and try to soothe our hurts together. Listen to their voices. Try to hear the elderly, the children, all the young people that come in just to hang out, who don’t know what to do. Little by little, and among so many, we find ways of fulfilling their destinies, our destinies; to understand their lives, our lives. This is why we shamelessly use workshops, courses, periodic activities, conversations, while they talk or we talk out on the patio, or attend “Estrenando Pinta”, the bazaar we hold every so often. I want to add that nothing is under lock and key in the library: equipment, computers, all the objects. There is no security, no police in sight because things don’t disappear if people feel it makes no sense to take them, if they are already theirs and serve others who are also ‘us’, with him and with me. Finally, I’d like to share the answer to a question we asked John Jairo Rojo, 12 years old, from the village Lejos del Nido during one of our reading and writing workshops: If you had 24 hours left to live, what would you do? I’d let go of everything I have Watch the clowns Walk around the village Look at the birds See how the birds hatch out of eggs We write about ourselves, we read about ourselves, we look ourselves in the eyes so we can meet during our days and bring back the memories of things that are alive. We come together to ward off death so that the pigeon doesn’t take us away. 104
I am the river that comes from the spring of tenderness.
Casa Tres Patios Pedagogical Program
Casa Tres Patios is an alternative, self-managed space that welcomes new and different forms of ‘being alternative’; on the one hand, as an alternative to traditional spaces for exhibiting work, in which the spatial organization cannot accommodate those that fall outside conventional structures and in which the actions of the audience are reduced to passive observation. In this regard, C3P’s first motivator was to allow artists and university students to use the space and create work they previously hadn’t had the opportunity of creating. A significant example is a work titled ‘Olvido’ (2006) by the artist Santiago Vélez, the exhibition of which required a room in C3P, to be, literally, flooded. This introduced a type of stage suitable for spatial explorations that were much more complex than those traditionally admitted by museums and galleries. Audience interaction has generated diverse relationships, and the residency program has contributed enormously. Thanks to this program it was learned that local audiences didn’t attend exhibitions unless they had a previous relationship with the artists being featured. So a question arose: how can those relationships be created? A vital part of the answer was the teaching and artistic experience of C3P members, starting with the founders. Thus, the answer focused on pedagogy: workshops directed by guest artists were proposed as part of the activities included in open invitations to the public, often included side by side with exhibitions. Some artists have been more successful than others, but what matters is that this process expanded the way C3P works: a different form of teaching, an alternative to what was being offered by traditional educational institutions. Workshops allowed exploring topics or techniques that were no more than a bullet point in a university course, perhaps even less. Also, with the artist as a ‘specialist’, leading the workshop the participants felt comfortable enough sharing this experience that they’d worked on sufficiently so that an exhibition could revolve around it. These kinds of experiences led to questions, dialog and horizontality reinforcing the pedagogical processes in C3P. In this way, artistic practice began to merge with teaching and pedagogy. A proposal for more open and mobile relationships between the space and the work, especially those between artists and the audience became the foundation for thinking about dialog and questioning, which would become a reality in later projects like CuBO.X and the Comunal Creation Laboratories – LCCs, through which C3P has shaped its pedagogical programming. The LCCs began in 2013, but the process that spawned them began in 2012, when a proposal arrived that hadn’t been considered in C3P’s original charter, but which was closely related to the new pedagogical paradigm: Develop content and carry out workshops for the Visual
Casa Tres Patios is an alternative, self-managed space that welcomes new and different forms of ‘being alternative’…
Arts Network (Red de Artes Visuales – RAV), a program initiated by the Secretary of Culture for the Municipality of Medellín. C3P was invited to develop a pilot project that would redirect the focus of the RAV workshops, from technical teaching – as they had been proposed initially – to becoming drivers for reflecting on relationships, contact with others and with the city. This new orientation arose when the Secretary analyzed the RAV program, reaching the conclusion that it wasn’t responsible for training artists (nor was it doing so), but for forming citizens, and so a focus on technique gave way to a different proposal.
The need to build a solid pedagogical program that would be useful for workshop participants and which would mesh with C3P’s principles and values became obvious; it needed to be framed within the category of the visual arts. Through this process the work of Paulo Freire was studied, specifically his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Project Based Learning, Teaching as a Subversive Activity (based on questioning), the Reggio Emilia method and Ana Mae Barbosa’s triangular proposal. Supported by elements taken from these pedagogical activities and through an analysis and systematization of the didactic strategies employed by C3P, a pedagogical program began to be developed, in which elements like dialog and freely shared ideas are fundamental. One of the objectives of the C3P’s evolving pedagogical program is to develop strategies for questioning; creating, sharing and collaborating that are based on individual experiences, interests and knowledge so that the participants themselves can generate positive transformations within their contexts. This objective is based on the understanding that, although the arts can’t change the world, they can, in the long run, create ways of thinking and doing which, at the very least, can change individuals’ surroundings. This position requires a certain degree of humility, or realism, as it assumes that changes come insofar as we accept our own limitations, and therefore we realize that only a small part can be accomplished, even when we believe that the change required is much greater. It should be emphasized at this point that we don’t suggest excluding technique. Why exclude technique? What’s the problem with that? What’s so bad about knowing how to ‘draw nicely’? In reality, the problem isn’t technique, but the tendency for perfection of technique to devolve toward mere imitation. When the end goal is to achieve work with great technical quality, things can be forgotten. For example, not all people learn at the same rhythm or in the same manner. Few people, say, develop the skills required to draw perfect imitations at the same speed; others may not
be entirely interested in drawing and approach the arts as a space that differs from that at school, which is not necessarily a space for ‘formation’ as we have defined it. Therefore, technique isn’t bad; rather, it should be taught and learned depending on needs as they arise in the development of a project with participants from the community. In 2012, with only the premise that teaching technique was secondary and that reflection would be promoted to emphasize exploration, Casa Tres Patios proposed three areas of work capable of unifying RAV processes and creating stimulating, interesting and approachable questions for workshop participants. These areas were: Home, Neighborhood, City, and were considered broad enough to fulfill the requirements of each context. This was done in order to foster shared work among all the groups and to meet the objectives of the Secretary of Culture for the Municipality of Medellín. C3P’s most ambitious project to date began under these guidelines and during the second semester of 2012 the pilot project began. Ten local artists led the workshops, which included moments where they took over parks or public spaces in the city: the boys and girls went out to the streets to interact with them and with each other. One characteristic that made the RAV an ambitious project was that it proposed offering an ‘art workshop’ at 40 different locations, in very different contexts, for between six hundred and eight hundred children and adolescents, with 3 hours of interaction during each workshop. How could a project like this work without using technique as a stepping stone? The answer was empathy, all the participants share something and they’re, all stakeholders, whether participants or workshop leaders. This means that their explorations and experiences were based on that sense of community and equality. But this begs the question of how this is achieved. C3P’s principles had to be revisited: knowledgesharing, experimentation and dialog. These are the pillars that have governed its work over the years and it was through these that the artists leading the workshops sought access to the participants. Although the program of the Secretary of Culture for the Municipality of Medellín is called the Visual Arts Network, Since 2013, C3P’s proposal for operating it since 2013 is Comunal Creation Laboratories (Laboratorios Comunes de Creación, LCC). With this construction we have sought to redefine the relationships between the participants and the ‘creatives,’18 to solidify the intention of sharing in the
construction of knowledge, to promote the ability to question, and by eliminating the word ‘art’, foster a search for possibilities traditionally excluded by its definitions. This first experience left a good taste in our mouth: it was possible to be alternative in association with the municipality, taking risks and experimenting with proposals and results left us with no final object that would serve as a record of the workshops; what was sought were experiences (Bárcena, 2005), and reflections. This project has combined all the ingredients mentioned throughout this book: territory, people and uncertainty became our daily bread at C3P, all revolving around pedagogical work that was full of questions, which challenged the very idea of art itself. With an emphasis on individual reflection upon intimate and collective surroundings, we also focus on people, their uniqueness as individuals and, through dialog; we find multiple points of view that can generate new forms of understanding and acknowledging the other. A project like the LCC assumes a degree of experimentation with uncertain results, not just because of the novelty of the proposal but because its most relevant consequences are yet to come. Simultaneously with this project, C3P has continued to develop its programs and projects. CuBO.X, is another project with a ‘pedagogical’ approach. CuBO.X, revisits and delves deeper into the proposal of an open relationship between the space, the work, the artists, processes and visitors. CuBO.X is a space where artists have an opportunity to experiment with those things that, despite desiring or imagining them, they still haven’t begun to work on them; but without the need to ‘produce’ finished work thereby avoiding fear of failure. This permanent workspace for the artist is open to the public for a month, and by virtue of a large window on the street is open to anyone that walks into or past C3P. This kind of approach demystifies the creative process by ‘exhibiting’ the uncertainty of artists and displaying not just their finished work but their processes and concepts. This introduces the possibility of questioning which yields dialog so the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ are clearly presented in these exercises which takes artists out of their comfort zone, so that, ideally, they can unveil and confront aspects they haven’t explored thoroughly, and through visits and conversations, manifest their way of interpreting the world.
Thus, C3P’s pedagogical program focuses on expanding the field of opportunities and points of view of the people that attend its activities (mainly a specialized audience, art students or artists) and on bringing together many different forms of discussing problems and situations that arise in their own professional practice and in the city at large. In turn, with regard to the people that are ‘visited’ by the C3P this direction translates into a creation of dialogs, seeking questions and developing free and critical thought. This method including criticism, questioning and communication, has provided the opportunity for the space and the program to think about itself not as a place that imposes experience and knowledge upon others, but as a space for building together, as a community. But, what do we build? Spaces for open conversation, for critical reflection, for thought, for speaking and listening attentively; for asking questions about what exists within the context, what these elements, these persons, and their presence or absence mean for each individual, or what path is proposed by the environment… and what each person wants and can propose. Whether through the Residencies, the Comunal Creation Laboratories, CuBO.X or any other project at C3P, whether in association with other institutions or not, whether working with professional artists or with children and youth from any neighborhood in the city; producing work manually or conceptually; regarding any conception of art; whether working within the house or on the street; with a few participants or several hundred of them, pedagogy still actively runs through the daily work of Casa Tres Patios: building a pedagogical model that is still finding its shape and that can help discover ways in which it can intervene in the world.
â€Śpedagogy still actively runs through the daily work of Casa Tres Patios: building a pedagogical model that is 112
still finding its shape and that can help to discover ways in which it can intervene in the world.
Cauldrons, Pots and Pans: â€˜Commun-ityâ€™ is cooked between the pots and pans.
Pot. A round cooking container, with a wide mouth and handles, used especially for boiling, cooking and heating food and liquids.// The content of that container. // A stew made of meat, legumes, vegetables and other ingredients (Moreno, 2008, p. 413) Whether made from pewter, mud, iron, aluminum or Teflon, the pot is the intermediary ARTIFACT that acts as facilitator in the relationship between the fire and the food. It contains the power of heat. It is vivacious and at times uncontrollable, while retaining solid and liquid ingredients to enable cooking. A pot is a tool that contains the enchantment produced when cooking, the magic that makes inert objects come back to life and produce energy. Links to survival are produced around the pot, links that imply cooperation and interdependence. Cooks and diners repeat an action that transformed our species, which generated culture itself, which made community possible. These links to correspondence and recognition then lead to assistance, legitimation; ethics and esthetics. All of these activities and qualities collide, combine and enhance, meet and acknowledge each other; inducing the affection that allows people to appreciate each other as families, friends and neighbors, as part of a larger social construct. The pot, trip, of together maintain
the protagonist of the kitchen, of the corner, of the road the Christmas party â€“ in abundance or scarcity - gathers ingredients; it cooks them to facilitate gatherings, to collaborations.
FOOTNOTE TO THE RECIPE BOOK Few times do the recipes contained in books acknowledge the value of cooking utensils? Ingredients, techniques, amounts and general recommendations invade the notes of novice and experienced cooks alike and, frequently, they belittle the importance of everyday objects that, while they may look simple, are decisive third parties to the alchemy produced in the kitchen and when cooking. Spoons, ladles, colanders, pans, griddles; extensions that enable contact, that translate necessity and that, even when unnoticed, allow cooks to transform substances and elements into potions, preparations, food. Between dishes, knick-knacks and gadgets for the home, none is as functional, as necessary as the POT.
The simple pot is the perfect metaphor for family, neighborhood and society i.e a container for everyone who eats from the same pot. Think of the stranger, only sometimes invited to eat indicating that, although food can be shared with anyone, generally only those considered close, or at least acquaintances, are invited to eat from the same pot. It is the tension between inclusion and exclusion made evident in human eating and made more evident in public, in the above example of the stranger, that the pot transcends its role as just a useful object: it is inspired to become a relational device, an artifact that detonates evidently ephemeral, though memorable, gatherings. The common pot, and especially the commun-itary pot, It becomes a symbol, shared so that the public and the private can coincide. On the street, it propitiates a relational gesture, a co-affection in which individuals, knowledge and capacities coincide to solve the undeniable interdependence implied by the act of eating. PUBLIC POT – COMMON POT: COMMUNITY POT So the community pot is property that abandons its private characteristics and becomes public, a property for all who would partake. It is appreciated for its physical, symbolic and binding properties that favors eating communally, even in times of scarcity, and propitiating festivities. Frequently or sporadically used, this container, selected for its capacity, ends up differentiating itself from others and receives a special designation: THE POT. THE POT is the object that detonates; a performance in which frequently everyone surrenders something of themselves and what they have in order to transform the submission implied by nourishment into a celebration; in order to transcend instructions, the ‘ought to be’ and the recipe mode, and invent a new formula, another procedure: an unrepeatable action in which expert and inexpert cooks disrupt public time and space to bring new meaning to cooking and the kitchen, to eating and the eater, to the roles of cook and diner. A POT is that which inspires, which brings life to that abstract entity known as a community. It is an object that becomes the center of a meeting space, of a ceremony that welcomes and provides company; that provokes a joint stage for acknowledging the community as an organism and sometimes as an organization; to share the product of cooking and remember that surviving together is possible. Thus, pots are the protagonists of dawns in which the aroma of boiling chocolate19 in water, with a little bit of cinnamon, is fundamental for joyfully waking up the neighbors; they’re containers of sancochos (beef and vegetable stew) scheduled to bid farewell to festivities
like Christmas, the New Year and Epiphany; of frijoladas (red bean soup) to feed the participants in cultural and political events; of rice, mainly with chicken and vegetables, for celebrating social events like birthdays and first communions; of ajiacos, mazamorras, natillas and even chicha. They contain all kinds of concoctions and flavors to share with the block, a park, a village, on the street, in a plaza, because on the streets, the plate – usually in the absence of a table - surrenders its prominence to the COMMUNITY POT. MEMORIES OF A COMMON POT El Morro Sector, Moravia Neighborhood, Medellín. (1992-2011). OLLA (Moravia Cooks20). Memory doesn’t designate a state of things but rather an occurrence: the occurrence-memory, the effect of which centers, traps and binds together individuals and subjects. (…) Family, school, territory, village or even country, are social entities recognized by these memories. It is in them and through them that bodily values, rhythms of life, table manners, esthetic appraisals and affections, forms of habitation, spaces for affectionate, communicational or transactional relationships are perpetuated, and usually strongly consolidated; in summary, that wide range of personal relationships not the most extensive, but certainly intense, which constitute what we’ve commonly recognized as social institutions and which we’ve preferred to call the social body of these memories (Montoya, 1999, pp. 34-35). During the week, this 94 liter-capacity cooking recipient performed its normal functions in a school dining room at the Gente Unida Foundation, and although it was occasionally lent out for some exceptional community activity, its most extraordinary function, due to its generous capacity, was reserved for Saturdays (at least 46 out of the 51 in a year). At 9:00 a.m. the water in the tank, that required being boiled more than once because of the way it was stored, was poured in until it filled up more than three quarters of the Pot. The person responsible, Doña Luz Mila21, left the Pot in charge of ‘the Kitchen’ and went back home while the cooks arrived to organize a kind of production brigade also responsible for buying groceries with money donated by friends and from the ropero, a clothes market mostly run by women, where 500 pesos is paid for a second-hand garment (in good condition) and, at most, $1,000 pesos for new articles.
Links to survival are produced around the pot, links that imply cooperation and interdependence
The ropero, which is the usual name in Medellín for second-hand sales organized by the parish and the community, has not changed its prices in eighteen years; and although profits were ever smaller, everyone made purchases with the conviction that not only were they clothing their families but they were paying for everybody’s lunch.
After 10:00 a.m., the cooks arrive from neighboring houses and from other neighborhoods. Teenagers and children, who go out and buy tubers, grains, pasta, vegetables and condiments joined Doña Luz Mila and a group of adult friends. The Pot, covered since 9:00 a.m. to conserve heat was uncovered after 11:00 a.m. to receive the meat (half purchased, half donated by a butcher in the Belen neighborhood) as well as 10 to 12 pounds of the product that gave a name to the day’s soup (one week: lentils, and the next: pastas) and an equal amount of rice.
With addition of the cold meat (seven kilos of ground beef, at least 20 handmade sausages, seven kilos of meaty beef and pork bone) and the other ingredients, the Pot lost heat; so the cooks began checking it repeatedly waiting for it to boil so the soup would be ready by 2:00 p.m. to meet the demand of a line of small diners. When the gas or the firewood seemed insufficient to keep it cooking, the cooks – some incredulous and others with conviction added - an uncommon but always useful assistant: a metal ladle to the Pot. This is an old trick from the neighborhood (one you won’t see written down in recipes) that has gone from belief to ritual and that is believed to speed up the cooking.
Meanwhile, a party started around the Pot. Notwithstanding, the heat concentrated by the steam from the cooking, reinforced by the midday sun that cut through the tin roof, children, teens and adults – most without any cooking training or experience- began a kind of joyous ceremony that seemed fundamental to this weekly ritual. Around the Pot, to the beat of reguetón, cooks shredded the carrots (two kilos) and peeled the guinea-plantains (35 units); they added eight cubes of Ricostilla (stock cubes), one box of Triguisar and another of Color; and chopped, between laughter and tears, the white onions (one kilo), capira (eight kilos) and criollo potatoes (four kilos), manioc (one kilo), green beans (two kilos), cabbage (one large) and coriander (one or two pounds depending on the price), and added them one by one. Each addition would arrive at precisely the right moment, responding to an unwritten instruction manual and that each cook adhered to according to a protocol handed down one to the other. This formula requires that salt be added twice, first after adding potatoes, yams
and carrots, and the second before cooking ended, just after the other condiments and before the cilantro, which is added at the end so as not to expose it to much heat that can cause it to lose its flavor. Progress was interrupted several times by voices asking: How’s the Pot doing? Did you stir the Pot? Can I throw this in the Pot? Or stating: careful with the Pot, don’t uncover the Pot. All around, Doña Luz Mila, Jonathan, Jeimison, Juan José, Carlitos, Luis Orlando, Magdalena, Angie, Eduardo, Jason, Juan Carlos, Félix, Jaime, Catalina, Daniela, Valeria, Daniel, Maria, David, the Saras and the Mayos played the part of the best cooking team; they cooked, played, joked, sang reguetón, shared the week’s stories and sometimes even told each other the TV shows or discussed who was better: Independiente Medellín or Atlético Nacional. Shortly before finishing production, a heated discussion would begin, no longer about soccer teams; what mattered was deciding who would cut up the sausages and become a part of that exclusive ‘mise en place’ team. Each week a kind of lottery was played out where two different Cooks always had to win and assume responsibility for this task, the primary concern being that there would be enough sausage for everyone. With soup up to the brim, the Pot seemed bigger, heavier, more imposing. With the addition of cilantro (washed and finely chopped), the stove was turned off, and the Pot was left to rest for some minutes, as though preparing for something new: the task of serving. At about 10:30 a.m., and progressively from then on, a motley assortment of plates, reused plastic containers (usually originally used for butter) and small pans (some covered, others deformed and others jealously cared for) would start to line up as though waiting for the power of the Pot to finally return their reason for being. The queue, which grew longer and longer with the passing of time, and has ended up being exclusively for the dishes while their owners took advantage of the opportunity to play, dance and talk. This seemed to complete this little kitchen and extend it out toward the street. An entourage of Pot followers gathered together in anticipation and turned the kitchen into a unique, expanded meeting place. Families sat outside contemplating the Pot out of the corners of their eyes, neighbors who had moved to other neighborhoods arrived with their own pots wrapped in plastic bags (some of which travelled back to their own kitchens on buses with soup for the rest of the family) and one or two workers asked whether they could join in. Finally, one of the cooks would warn, like a bell-ringer, that the product was ready. ‘Every meal is a party. (…) The community of the table is a celebration, a festival of humanity; it exalts social life,
it’s a communion of persons incarnate and freely gathered together’ (Barbotin, quoted in Cruz, 1991, p. 352). Thus, every Saturday, an entire neighborhood, or at least one of its sectors, Brisas de Oriente from El Morro, fit into a kitchen, gathered around an old aluminum pot, repaired with rivets and dented on its edges in a manifestation of what Julián Arturo called - the ‘lived space [that which] expands beyond the physical dimensions, that contains the places of individual and collective memory. [An experience, a place with unique meaning that] emerges from the network of interactions and relationships created by those that experience, occupy and make use of it’ (Arturo, 1998, p.6). After 2:00 p.m., when you could feel the tension from the wait, and with the Pot still bubbling, a great aluminum ladle would intervene to serve, to mediate as a prosthetic between the Pot and the little pots in the queue, to offer up the best of the Pot and share out a soup that everyone longed for with their emotions rather than their reason. While still continuously stirring the Pot and occasionally resting on its black handles, the ladle would share out the contents: between 300 and 350 portions of lentil or noodle soup or, more exceptionally, white or black bean soup and, once a year, at Christmas, ajiaco santafereño with lots of chicken and cream (without capers, because the local diners –the community members- don’t like them). After three in the afternoon, and if the process had begun on time (and it’s worth pointing out that punctuality was never this community’s greatest asset), the Pot was practically empty. All around, as though escorting it, some of the cooks would be watching, hoping that some pegado had remained stuck to the side, because of a lack of stirring or due to the uncontrollable effects of the open flame. After the last diner, a spoon that almost had an edge would appear, practically always, in the hands of a cook (also a diner) usually below the age of twelve, who would scrape the bottom of the pot. Another would state quickly, almost as though to avoid someone else cutting in: ‘it’s my turn to wash the Pot’. That voice was followed by another asking: Whose turn is it to wash the Pot? Or, if the person asking was lucky: Who are you going to wash it with? Although the recommended practice of rubbing the Pot with dishwashing soap before putting it on the fire was followed, so that cleaning it
The common (community) pot […] becomes a poetic gesture that is solitary, mutual and reciprocal.
after the Saturday event would be less complicated, washing a ninetyliter-plus pot was never easy. Further, the contraband water supply was usually suspended during the afternoon, after four, or because the water tank had run out after washing tables and utensils, or simply because the size of the Pot and the washing up area were far from a good match. While the Pot returned to its original condition as a pot, a container, cooks and diners would disperse, taking the neighborhood communion with them. The noise would become silence and everyone would return to his or her daily lives. In the Morro, in Moravia –even though the kitchen no longer exists and many of its inhabitants have been relocated, where loneliness and weeds have taken over the ruins of a neighborhood that was once alive, the place the Pot lived- the memory of that huge aluminum container remains, the memory of an object that fostered stories, that celebrated a community and turned conditions of scarcity into an opportunity for satiety; a Pot that transformed children and teens into hosts and cooks and certain housewives into Head Cooks. That’s desirable not because of the physiological satisfaction enabled by the Pot and the soup it contained but, rather, for the coincidences and combinations cooked up around it. The common (community) pot, which many recognize as their own, creates a social tissue as it boils. It becomes a poetic gesture that is solitary, mutual and reciprocal. It uses what’s public and popular to turn cooking from technique and knowledge into a bond; with the seasoning of the community. Attended, like those that spread at the beginning of the 20th Century from Chile to the rest of Latin America; or solidary, like those inherent to a collaboration between equals, who support those going through hard times and require assistance; festive, like those where each neighbor or family member contributes however little or however much they have to a celebration; strategies for survival or for pleasure, Communal Pots may wear away and even be replaced, but they will never cease to exist. Around each Pot, even when hidden in some kitchen, familiar or strange, so long as there are human beings, there will always be, receptions, parties, joining of resources, and gatherings; rituals that remind us that we were born alone, but that we prefer to live together and eat at the same table.
Appendix : History of Casa Tres Patios Casa Tres Patios is a not-for-profit foundation that began work nine years ago. Its founders: Tony Evanko, Santiago Velez and Sonia Sequeda, intended to promote the dissemination of contemporary artistic practices aimed at teachers, artists and the public at large, through different activities ranging from exhibitions to workshops on the most varied subjects. C3P believes that the processes of reflection and free thinking inherent in contemporary artistic practices that emphasize the free creation and the sharing of ideas and knowledge can expand our way of looking at, thinking of and interacting within the world (Casa Tres Patios Strategic Plan, 2014). Under this premise it has organized and mounted nearly 80 exhibitions on a large variety of subjects, including the work of by local, national and international resident artists. C3P often collaborates with other self managed initiatives in the city. The residency program has hosted about 90 artists, curators, academics and students from Colombia and around the world. Expenses for these residencies are covered in various ways; sometimes the artists themselves cover the cost of their stay, although in most cases the residencies are the result of another larger, different program or project; for example, during 2014 C3P hosted residents associated with projects realized in collaboration with international associations like Fotodok (the Netherlands), and an Argentinean resident who won a grant from the Biennial for Young Artists sponsored by the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, whose two month stay in MedellĂn was part of her award. Over the foundationâ€™s nine years of existence over 70 public talks have been held by residents and exhibitors Since one of the foundationâ€™s objectives is to bring together university art students and professional artists to allow them to use the spaces in C3P for experimenting and exhibiting their art, these talks are intended to establish a more direct relationship between the resident artists, and the local public . Since 2009 workshops have been conducted by local and foreign artists in residence, with the goal of bringing the community closer, not just
to the creators’ final work, but also to the creation process itself. This process contributes both pedagogically and practically to the idea of expanding forms of viewing and interacting with the world, for both the artists and the participants. This way of working in C3P has been shared with different institutions, and has provided the opportunity for expanding the spectrum of its relationships and impacts. The work has mainly been supported by international institutions: ArtEdu, Hivos, Mondriaan Foundation, Arts Collaboratory, and by local institutions like the Fundación Fraternidad Medellín. It has also entered into working agreements with the Secretary of Culture for the Municipality of Medellín, the Ministry of Culture of Colombia and educational institutions like the University of Antioquia and the University of Bellas Artes Foundation. During the last nine years, Casa Tres Patios has become a space for expression for local artists and for exchanges with foreigners interested in the phenomena developing within the Arts in Colombia. Above all, it seeks to be a space for dialog and for a shared construction of knowledge, for artists and for children and young people in the city, seeking, through art and beyond works of art, to open roads for communication and mutual acknowledgement.
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Author Biographies Sara Lazarín Sara Lazarín is a candidate in the Master’s Degree in Art and Design Education and holder of a degree in Visual Arts, both from the México; she has a specialist’s degree in Cultural Management and Cultural Policies from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Conaculta and OEI. She has worked as a teacher for almost 7 years, giving art appreciation courses to children and adults. She currently teaches a course for future primary school teachers at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional and is a part of the ComunicARTE collective, which focuses on the use of the arts in basic education.
Paola Peña Paula Peña is a sociologist. She graduated from the University of Antioquia (2009), and has a Master’s in Advanced Art History Studies from the Universidad de Salamanca (Spain, 2012). She has delved into topics like the sociology of art and culture, art and politics, modern and contemporary Latin American art and art theory. She has worked as a teacher and researcher. She is interested in curating and cultural management, and is currently coordinating the ESPIGA Project, the curatorial branch of the Campos de Gutierrez Foundation.
Carlos Uribe Historian from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, with partial Ph.D. studies in History at the Universidad de Huelva in Spain. Uribe is a visual artist with local, national and international recognition. He has participated in local, national and international exhibitions and residencies since 1991. He has been a cultural manager, teacher and researcher, as well as an art curator. His experiences include several curatorial processes for regional and national artist exhibitions for the Colombian Ministry of Colombia (2005-2009), independently co-curating Ex Situ / In Situ, Moravia artistic practices as a community (2008-2012) and curating the exhibition Exposed Reserve - Historia, for Medellín’s Museum of Modern Art (2014).
He is currently the assistant curator of the project for revitalizing and activating public space on 26th Street (Calle 26): Open Air Museum, for the Municipality of Bogota. He was the director for Education and Culture of the Museum of Antioquia (2005-2006), artistic director of the Medellín International Encounter of Art MDE07: Hospitality Spaces (2007), director of the Moravia Cultural Development Center (2008-2012), director of the Casa Museum de la Memoria (2013) and he is currently the dean of the Faculty of Visual Arts for the Foundation of the University of Bellas Artes in Medellín (2013- present). Within the Colombian Artists Collection, in 2014 the Ministry of Culture will publish a monograph called Carlos Uribe: Del paisaje construido al espacio relacional (1991-2012) (Carlos Uribe: From the construction of landscapes to relational spaces), by the researcher Efren Giraldo.
Silvana Andrea Mejía Silvana holds a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Arts Education from the University of Antioquia and a Master’s degree in Education from the same university; she also holds a specialist’s degree in artistic education from OEI. For the past ten years she has worked as an adjunct teacher at the University of Antioquia in the area of pedagogy and as a primary and middle education teacher in the area of artistic education. Besides her work in teaching, she has also worked as a researcher of relationships between artistic education and pedagogy.
Helena López López was born in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 1970. She holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary Hispanic Literature from the University of La Coruña, Spain. She has been a Fulbright scholar at the Department of Hispanic Studies at Brown University (USA), and carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of London’s School of Advanced Studies (UK) with a project on cultural memory. Her main field of research looks at the spaces between Feminism, Cultural Studies and the Study of Memories (especially related to literature and film). She has been a teacher and researcher at different institutions in France (École Normale Supérieure and University of Paris XII) and Great Britain (Bath University). She currently works as a teacher and researcher in the University Gender Studies Program (PUEG, in Spanish) of the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). Her most recent research project, The
Cry of the Ruins. A cultural interpretation of personal narratives by Spanish exiles in Mexico, recently received a mention of honor in the Mariano Picon Salas V International Essay Award, and was published as a book in 2013 by the Rómulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies.
Javier Naranjo Moreno Javier Naranjo Moreno was born in Medellín. He has been a cultural manager, a reading promoter and a teacher. He coordinates the Laboratorio del Espíritu (Laboratory of the Spirit) Rural Library and Community Center in El Retiro, Antioquia. His poetry books include Orvalho, Silabario, Lugar de cuerpo ciego, A la sombra animal and De parte del aire. In the books Casa de las Estrellas (translated and published in Brazil by Foz Editora as Casa das Estrelas) and Proyecto Gulliver, he collections creations by children. With the booklets El Diario de Mammo and El Diario de… written for the MAMM (Medellín Museum of Modern Art), he has sought to stimulate children to become interested in art. He has coordinated several creative writing projects and some versions of the Poetry School in the Medellín International Poetry Festival. He supported the first Poetry School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, participated in national and international events, seminars, book fairs and festivals, and his articles and poetry have appeared in different magazines, periodicals and anthologies.
Daniel Alberto Gómez Roldán Daniel is an anthropologist, sociologist and technical chef. He is also a Master’s degree candidate in anthropology at the University of Antioquia. He works as a teacher at the Colegiatura Colombiana and University of Antioquia in classes related to nutrition as a cultural expression and in research training. He researches Colombian regional cooking, and has experience in social assistance and community exchange processes, mostly related to cooking and eating.
Paula Andrea Villa Alcaraz Paula Andrea is a graduate of the Colegiatura Colombiana, a social communicator and journalist, and a specialist in Creative Interventions. She works as Career Director for Gastronomy and Professional Cooking at the Colegiatura Colombiana and as a teacher and researcher of topics related to communications and food, cultural interactions, ethics and esthetics. She has been involved in community relations projects that use food as an excuse for meetings and the generation of social fabric.
End Notes 1. The [MDE], International Art Meeting in Medellín 2007: Contemporary Artistic Practices, Hospitality Spaces, was conceived by the Colombian Curator José Roca and a team of curators from Brazil and Colombia who accompanied him in the proposal to create a collective agency and curatorship that sought to domesticate the Biennial model, i.e., in the words of Roca himself, to turn the massive artistic event into a – domestic, family, everyday affair. The event, convened by the Museum of Antioquia and the Municipality of Medellín, was replicated in 2011 [MDE11]; also curated by three international and one local curator that, in this version, approached the issue of artistic education, with the slogan Places for Knowledge Within Art. For 2015, there is speculation that there will be support from the City of Medellín so a third version can be held. Perhaps, the most significant contribution of this movement is the breath of fresh air it has brought to the local scene via an urgent need to become inserted into the international one. The same question that currently haunts the arts world, regarding the possibility of redefining the international biennial model, encouraged a group of curators from Medellín to conceive of an event structure that was entirely aware of the shortcomings, needs and expectations of the local medium, and adapted to those conditions. However, the phenomenon known as biennialism has meant that many events end up with a similar structure and image to the large art fairs, with artistic offerings and experiences similar to those of a typical biennial, a globalized model that focuses on the spectacle to the detriment of a deeper and more formative process. Every time a new international event comes up, the same question also appears: is it really possible to reconfigure this model? 2. In Colombia, particularly in Medellín, alternative artistic manifestations or spaces continue responding to the rationale of the historic avant-garde, i.e., they are defined in opposition to the artistic tradition, seeking to be spaces for freedom and innovation with a risky character and an experimental vocation, seeking the destruction of what Bürger (quoted by Huyssen, 1986) would call the “arts institution”. This term designates an institutional structure within which art is produced, distributed and received in bourgeois society, a structure founded upon the esthetics of Kant and Schiller and their idea of the autonomy required of every artistic creation. 3. Their similarities and differences allow placing these encounters on the margins of artistic institutionalization, i.e., outside
established circuits, as these generate other forms of production, inscription and circulation that expand institutional boundaries by relating art and society with greater clarity. 4. On the concepts of city, place and time, which are essential for understanding the place in which these new artistic practices arise, refer to the Spanish philosophers Jose Luis Pardo and Javier Echeverria, who question the ways in which we inhabit the contemporary world. 5. This term refers to the Situationist International movement, a fundamental reference for understanding this type of tactic, which arises out of the union of two avant-garde groups: the Letterist International and the Bauhaus. This movement proposed immediate participation in a varied and passionate life, through moments that were simultaneously transient and consciously controlled. The value of these moments could only reside in their real effects. Situationists consider cultural activity from the point of view of the whole, as a method of experimental construction for daily life, that can be infinitely developed from the dimension of recreation and the disappearance of the division of work (in the first place and above all, the division of artistic work). Art can cease to be an interpretation of the senses and become an immediate creation of more evolved sensations. The problem is how do we produce ourselves, and not the objects that enslave us (Clarke, Gray, Radcliffe & Nicholson-Smith, 2004, p. 21). 6. The concept of collectivism in the arts ‘arises from social theory, that holds that collective interest or welfare are more important than the interest or welfare of a particular individual’ (World Association of Educators, s.f.). The collectivization of the creative act – assumed as a productive matrix capable of transmitting its essence even into the hemisphere of artistic reception- fuses, within the same anti-individualist crucible, the material and semiotic profiles of art. 7. It’s worth clarifying this author’s understanding of collaborative art and/or collective creation (the practice of exchanging knowledge between colleagues), participatory art (a practice that convenes other non-artists or normal citizens) and community art (joint creation processes or an exchange of knowledge between artists or professionals from other disciplines and communities). 8. It’s worth mentioning other collaborative projects that have made alternative inroads as circulation and creation initiatives without fixed installations, i.e., that don’t enter into the rationale of independent initiative spaces, analyzed in this
article, and are different from others with eminently commercial goals, like galleries or stores (La Galeria de la Oficina, Banasta, Plecto Galeria, Lokkus Galeria, CMYK, etc.), that are part of a cultural circuit attached to the dynamics of the art market. Thus, let’s look at these projects in chronological order, so as to map them better: Grupo Utopia (1979). An architectural collective set up by Patricia Gomez, Fabio Antonio Ramirez and Jorge Mario Gomez. An essential reference point for the work of art collectives in the country as it created links between visual arts and other disciplines, mainly architecture, while expanding the boundaries between an author and his or her work, in a time when visual arts as a collective construction was a negligible process in Colombia. Adolfo Bernal (1984). A complementary dimension of this artist’s visual work, a pioneer in Colombia of urban interventionism, it’s constituted by collaborative and participatory actions for which there had been no referents in the city since 1981, except for the events and productions by foreign artists in the Non-Object Art Colloquium and the IV Art Biennial in Medellín. His contribution, beyond his initiatives for convening others –students and artistic colleagues- lies in the participatory relationships his art generated for diverse communities, even at unpredictable scales, like convening communities from both sides of the Aburra Valley, the geographic landscape for the city of Medellín. El Rio desde Adentro Group (1995). This collective arose from an exchange, proposed by the Centro Colombo Americano in Medellín, between North American artist Anne Rocheleau and local artists Gloria Posada, Juan Luis Mesa and Carlos Uribe. After some primary ideas on environmental awareness within a polluted urban scenario without clear public control policies, they held urban events in the cities of Medellín and Providence RI. A-Clon Group (1995). Set up by Claudia Rincón, Jimena Orozco, José Ignacio Ospina, Juan Arturo Piedrahita, Luis Andrés Castaño, Margarita Maria Pineda, Maryluz Álvarez, Kamel Ilian Gallego and Valentina Pineda, who were mostly visual arts students from the Art Department in the University of Antioquia. Its members specialized in performance practices with which they participated on several stages and in different festivals. Los Caminantes (1996). This collaborative, nomadic project created by the art professors Juan Luis Mesa (University Nacional) and Santiago Peláez (Universidad de Antioquia), who, with the U.N. art student Wolfgang Guarin, carried out street-level or urban
exploration actions and situations that were later translated into exhibitions in closed spaces. Grupo Grafito (1997). Created by visual artists Gloria Posada and Carlos Uribe with the graphic designers Ana Maria Arango and Alejandra Gaviria, the group promoted the expansion of traditional engraving and stamping techniques through an appropriation of large format urban objects using the frottage technique. Its tactics for copying street-level forms and textures led its members to enter into direct and participatory contact with local communities and/or common citizens. Colectivo Proyecto 3N Nueva Ciudad, Nuevo Mileno, Nuevos Artistas (1998). A collective set up mostly by students in the Art Department in the National University: Diana Múnera, Wolfgang Guarín, Andrés Arango, Mauricio Velásquez, Juan José Rendón, Alejandro Duque, among others, and artists like Santiago Peláez and Juan Luis Mesa. Its tactics were founded on provocative and responsive actions relating to social dynamics, and included taking over spaces and carrying out urban actions. Urbe Group (1999). A collective consisting of the artists Gloria Posada and Carlos Uribe that focused on environmental and urban reflections. Its modes of production allowed them to have direct contact with different urban actors, many of whom collaborate in the conception and development of large installations, events and large format interventions. En Renta (1999). Set up by Ricardo Duque, Andrea Gómez, consisted of renting temporary installations or events, some more than one night.
Santiago Peláez, Wolfgang Guarín, Johnny Benjumea and Diana Múnera; installations for producing specific of which were ephemeral, lasting no
Donde Tallan los Recuerdos Project (2000). A collaboration arising from an initiative by Wolfgang Guarín, Santiago Peláez and Juan Luis Mesa. Without fixed headquarters, they activated situations and reflections that were then formalized in exhibitions. La Cámara Amante (2001-2003). A public call for proposals that had two versions, promoted by the artist and photographer Juan Fernando Ospina for performing collaborative actions, situations, interventions, installations and performances at locations monitored by the city’s security and control cameras. Love was the topic for reflection and the activations were broadcast in real time by a local television channel.
Lluvia de Niebla Project (2003). A collaborative project developed by the artists Juan Luis Mesa and Santiago Vélez that consisted of bringing new semantics to a building in the El Poblado sector, abandoned due to a housing bubble at the beginning of the nineties, during the time when drug trafficking was present in Medellín. The building was re-inhabited by artists and this generated an uncomfortable environment for neighbors and spectators that attended the event during the time it was active. El Puente Lab (2003). A proposal for circulating ideas, institutions, artists and experts, conceived as a cultural activation lab. It operates based on an artistic activation platform sitting mainly at a creative crossroads between Latin American and European artists. Some of its members and operators from both sides of the ocean are: Natalia Restrepo, Juan Esteban Sandoval, Alejandro Vásquez, Daniel Urrea, Victor Muñoz, Catalina Roja, Alfredo Vásquez, Julián Urrego, Paulina Arango, Paula Rengifo, Daniel Gil, David Escobar, Lina Rodriguez, Charlie Jeffry, Tommy Scheiderbauer, Gayle Chong Kwan and Maria Rosa Gijón. Salamanca-Siegert / Contemporary Art (2005). An imitation contemporary art gallery was set up in a venue in the Los Puentes Popular Shopping Center. For its opening three well-known artists from the city were invited who, in their work, whether formally or conceptually, made reference to the location’s commercial and urban conditions or implications. University of Antioquia students and members of the local community participated in this collaborative project: Juan Fernando Cardona, Andrés Caro, Johnny Alexander Correa, Fernando Diaz, Samanta Duque, Hugo Alejandro Garcia, Andrea Giraldo, Felipe Montes, Jose Fernando Moreno, Yaneth Mesa, Marcela Restrepo Siegert, Luis Alberto Usuga and Giohanny Restrepo, under the direction of the teacher Santiago Vélez. Industrias Papa Bomba (2008). A collective made up mostly of arts students from the University of Antioquia: Luis Ángel Castro, Diana Milena Arenas, Juliana Tobón, Catalina Henao, Diana Trespalacios and Daniel Echeverri. Producers of objects and ideas, their caustic and radical artistic tactics were applied to political and social phenomena. El Cuerpo Habla (2008). An art collective made up of students and teachers from the Faculty of Arts at the Universidad de Antioquia, whose main researcher and founder is Ángela Maria Chaverra. Its dynamics are focused on live art, and it proposes the construction of a semiotics of the body by studying and practicing artistic
proposals that, like performance, will bring together the body of the city and the body of art, permitting local interpretations. Cuatro Ojos (2008). Between 2008 and 2010, an anonymous collective held six events, approximately six months apart. In each of these encounters, approximately fifty visual artists, designers, architects and graffiti artists, among others, took over abandoned houses in different parts of the city, intervened in them in different ways for four consecutive days and then, on the fifth day, they opened up each space to the city in an exhibition that would integrate observers into the action. Lengüita Producciones (2009). A collective set up by students – now graduates – of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Antioquia: Cristina Vasco, Alejandra Montoya, Luz Ángela Gómez, Lina Ceballos, Juan Camilo Londoño, Johnny Correa and Diego Villada who, with their professor Santiago Vélez, unequivocally gambled on participation tactics, media platforms, and urban actions and interventions. Finally, simultaneously with this journey through different collaborative spaces and relational practices, an example of a hybrid between institutional support and community initiatives is the Cultural Development Center of Moravia (2008), which, since its inauguration, has promoted exchanges and intersections of knowledge between communities and artists in the construction of public spaces for dialog, dissemination and pedagogical relations, in order to activate joint creative processes with the communities in the area. This project is a cultural center, with contributions from the Municipality of Medellín and ComfenalcoAntioquia A Workers Compensation Fund, that offers art classes, cultural programs and accompaniment for neighborhood groups in the Northeast sector of Medellín. Beginning in July 2008, the curatorial project Ex-situ / In-situ Moravia, Community Artistic Practices was materialized by Fernando Escobar-Neira, Juan Alberto Gaviria and, with Carlos Uribe as project director. In individual calls for proposals, eighteen artists from different cities in Colombia and three from Medellín were invited and realized a total of twenty-one total projects, which were produced in different stages between 2008 and 2011; and in 2012 another two projects were included in the neighborhood projects. All of the projects were located and executed considering the local traditions and conditions. Taken from: Carlos Uribe. Las prácticas artísticas en comunidad: un horizonte de acción que transforma las relaciones arte/sociedad en Medellín. Errata# Magazine No. 7. Creación colectiva y prácticas colaborativas. April 2014.
9. ‘A general definition of Art has a perfect understanding of its boundaries; and these are the boundaries of generalization, not verifiable but of experimentation; the limits of a definition loaded with history and, therefore, susceptible to modifications in other historical contexts’ (Eco, 2005, p. 151). 10. In July 2014 I enjoyed a residence at Casa Tres Patios. My text is related to this stimulating experience and a productive encounter with Sonia Sequeda, Tony Evanko, Sara a and the rest of the team. 11. In 2011 and 2012 I taught a workshop and spoke at ‘Art, memory and justice. The voice and viewpoint of women behind bars’ project, and in 2013 I coordinated the research arm of that same project, which was now called ‘Women in spirals: the justice system, a gender perspective and resistance pedagogies’. 12. Lets look at some data: despite a public policy that, in Mexico, has been committed since the 1990s to reducing educational exclusion and discrimination, illiteracy, school lagging and abandonment are still at alarming levels. In Mexico, 5.4 million people are illiterate, 10 million haven’t finished primary school, 16.4 million haven’t finished secondary school and only 3 out of every 10 young people between 19 and 23 years old have access to higher education (http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=337820). To these three forms of educational discrimination we would have to add the precariousness of the formal educational system. With regard to the justice system, in Mexico there is a systematical violation of due process from the time of arrest up until sentencing. 44% of the entire prison population is made up of people awaiting sentencing, and a high percentage of people already serving time are doing so for crimes they didn’t commit (Azaola and Bergman, 2007). Keep in mind, also, that Mexico’s serious education issues affect the most vulnerable groups due to a combination of variables like race, class and gender, including the population behind bars. Thus, under very sorry prison conditions as a result of insignificant social investments and expenditures and under poor schooling conditions associated with their original social environments, the entire informal education possibilities available to women inmates consist of reproducing the subordinating ideologies of gender and class: sewing, hairdressing, cooking and handicraft courses (Antony, 2007, p. 76; Noel, 2009, p. 211). 13. It’s worth pointing out that the limitations of a strictly legal understanding of citizenship –limitations that imply violations of the right to education and due process suffered by a large number 140
of people in Mexico- have led to its being reworked in terms of how and why individuals think of themselves as playing an active role in their communities: ‘[…] the challenge to academia will be to not only address the institutional and constitutional arrangements of citizenship, but also examine how citizenship operates as a living experience’ (Nyers, 2007, p.3). 14. Content presentation may adopt different models for pedagogical action: start by emphasizing the relevance of the proposed topic (Bandura model), use specific examples that individuals can relate to their own experiences (Bruner model) or promote learning based on the practices and the experiences of the community to move towards the statement of a new topic (Gagné model). See Sarramona, Vázquez & Colom, 1998, pp. 190-191. 15. The full text can be found at http://revistareplicante.com/nina/ 16. It is worth clarifying that it is not the position of C3P that the people who participate in the formative processes offered are un-finished or incomplete, rather it is important that they want to ‘be formed’ by participating in these processes (malleable) and recognize that they can learn more (un-finished). 17. Saladero is the place where meat and fish are salted to preserve them. 18. ‘Creatives’ is the name that C3P has given to the people who lead the workshops in the LCCs and other pedagogical projects. 19. Almost always donated by neighborhood storekeepers in any city. 20. Moravia Cooks: a relational experience that, until 2011, propitiated weekly spaces for gatherings around a community kitchen in El Morro in the Moravia neighborhood of the city of Medellín. This proposal for collectively cooking food invites participation from children and adolescents so they can be both participants in and generators of an event currently repeated sporadically to gather together the population, to promote conversation and recreation, to weave a sense of community by serving soup that transcends its nutritional interest and becomes affectionate/affective. To make eating into an excuse, a element that provokes and preserves a community’s memory and identity. 21. Luz Mila de La Pava, a mother and grandmother who is more or less fifty years old (her age has always been a closely guarded secret), is like almost any other lady from Moravia of campesina extraction: always organized, with big eyes that seem to look beyond the surface, attentive and solidary with her neighbors, a host by nature and an excellent cook who is dedicated exclusively to her home. 141
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1. Public talk with Fotodok and Casa Tres Patios 2. Sebastián Restrepo (artist) in CuBO.X 3. Sebastián Restrepo (artist) in CuBO.X 4. Book binding workshop with Corinne Vermeulen (artist) and Nina Bianchi (graphic designer) 5. Public presentation of the Network of Visual Arts 2014 6. Workshop Hacker space Un/Loquer 7. Preparation for exhibition – Architects Association of London 8. View of the La Quintana neighborhood 9. Centro Plazarte 10. Casa Tres Patios 11. Taller7 12. Por Estos Días 13. Exhibition Anna Dasovic y Daniel Salgado (artists) 14. Exhibition Anna Dasovic y Daniel Salgado (artists) 15. Workshop directed by Andrea Cadavid
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16. Group exhibition by the Collective Fingerprints and Appearances 17. Exhibition Project – Exchange as Space 18. Group exhibition by the Collective Fingerprints and Appearances 19. Workshop for the Network of Visual Arts 2014 20. Public talk with Su Tomesen (artist) 21. “Creatives” in the Network of Visual Arts 2014 22. Group exhibition by the Collective Fingerprints and Appearances 23. Public talk in CuBO.X 24. Art work by Juan Santiago Uribe 25. Workshop directed by Andrea Cadavid 26. Exhibition Anna Dasovic y Daniel Salgado (artists) 27. Workshop for the Network of Visual Arts 2014 28. Juan Santiago Uribe (artist) in CuBO.X 29. Workshop for the Network of Visual Arts 2014 30. Participants of the Network of Visual Arts 2014 in the Library Park in Belén 31. Workshop directed by Ferchu Just for the Network of Visual Arts 32. Workshop directed by Ferchu Just for the Network of Visual Arts 33. Installation by Alejandro Jaramillo (artist) CuBO.X 34. Workshop directed by Silvana Mejía (pedagogical advisor) 35. Photographic workshop directed by the artist collective +1 36. Lindy Marquez (artist) in CuBO.X 37. Residency Tessa Hays-Nordin (artist) 38. Workshop on pedagogy in Casa Tres Patios 143