TRANSVERSAL AESTHETICS / IMMUNITY ～ COMMUNITY
Idensitat + Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana
IDENSITAT, together with the Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana opens the third edition of the Transversal Aesthetics programme, which, under the title IMMUNITY – COMMUNITY, will promote three projects that combine research and production in the cities of València, Alicante and Castelló, connecting artistic practices to social spaces within specific contexts of each of the three cities.
The project gives a series of production and experimentation activities together with artistic spaces and educational contexts, plans for which include two temporary residencies subject to a public open call, and a third by invitation. The programme will take place during 2022 and early 2023, and is part of the European project Who Cares?
One of the residencies will take place in Alicante, with the collaboration of the Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras, with two months set aside for successful applicants to work on a proposal aimed at experimentation-production in the local context. The residency in Valencia, thanks to the collaboration of the Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània, is aimed at mediation practices related to the proposed topic, with the possibility of creating an interdisciplinary working group and/or combining onsite and online work. The residency may use the workspaces at the Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània, and may be developed in various phases until March 2023, depending on the needs of the project.
Transversal Aesthetics is a project for research and experimentation on the intersection between art, mediation and social space. A place of confluence between artistic practices as a vehicle for critical research; mediation activities as a vehicle for the production of content, interaction and learning transfer; and the urban context as a vehicle for connecting specific themes of work to a specific active social space relevant to these themes.
SUBJECT AREA: IMMUNITY - COMMUNITY
- ONSITE RESIDENCY, ALICANTE: "El ponent la mou, el llevant la plou", colectivo Las Mediocre
- HYBRID RESIDENCY, VALÈNCIA: "Equipo interdisciplinario de ensayos malvidentes, Laura Arensburg
CASTELLÓ: VÍTOL; LABORATORI PER A RESIGNIFICAR LA FESTA, Cúmul + Idensitat
PANDEMIC COMMUNITY. Workshop with the B.A. degree class in "Public Art Intervention Tactics", UPV
The work of the project will be based upon the tensions, paradoxes or connections generated by the words Community and Immunity. Ordinarily, the concept of community is used to emphasise the importance of a group of people who share elements in common that lend the group a certain distinctive character, elements such as identity, place, ideology, beliefs; elements of belonging to a collective (or group of people) that maintains connective bonds between them, and that, for one reason or another, differentiates group members in relation to members of other groups, but which also unites, strengthens, and immunises them. In this sense , the concept of immunity is reappearing strongly in this specific context of the pandemic, and is related to community in the sense that it refers to that which protects from constant external dangers. From this perspective, community and immunity form a whole that withdraws into itself, attempting to establish protection and isolation, and to avoid any kind of external contagion, but it also offers bonding, close relationships, and organisation in the face of a threat.
Both concepts are dealt with by Roberto Espósito,in a direction that we are interested in taking up in order to adapt them for this project. According to the author, bearing in mind the etymological roots of the words, and interrogating the neoconservative and negative component that they imply, he suggests that the community opens up and exposes the individual, turning him towards his own exterior, liberates him towards his externality. It is not the place of identity, of belonging, of appropriation, but on the contrary, of plurality, of difference or otherness. Immunity, according to Esposito, causes the individual to withdraw inside himself, confines him in his own skin, brings the exterior back to the interior, eliminates it as outside.
In a context such as the present one, immunity is perceived as the general objective, as the globalised cure that must preserve the different communities from contagion. And, extending beyond the sanitary, it is established in policies that reaffirm national, neighbourhood and domestic territories. The techno-policies of immunity and fear contribute to generating closed communities that favor inequality.
But also, in this tension, other dimensions of the concept of community open up; dimensions in which knowledge-communities related to ecology are generated, with dissident archives, local memories, virtual communities, inter-species communities, and a long list of other communities; dimensions in which the community becomes almost activist; resistance and survival means, precisely, reinforcing its communitarian dimension in order to immunise itself to globalisation.
The philosophy of care in which this project is inserted, is premised upon imagining possible futures in which mutual care and care of our environment are foregrounded, for an improvement in subjective relationships, and a recovery of the community as a res publica, as a space of the common, of affectivity and learning, with its dangers of turning into an environment of difference and/or exclusion .It is from this perspective that we posit a critical working space, problematising the concepts of community and immunity, as a metaphor for the flux of connections with the outside, with the other, as a channel opening out and occasionally overspilling, in which contagion acquires a positive character, since it allows the incorporation of strange new organisms, to survive them, and to rediscover the equilibrium that helps in recovering the loss of sociability in the context of the pandemic.
If the raw material of social life is in-person interactive sociability[2, we are now subjected to a regime in which this in-person interaction is subject to the strategy of isolation, and the construction of the community bubble. This fruitful and contradictory relationship between community, immunity, care and territory is what encourages us to send out this open call for projects that propose creative responses to the complexity of this approach, which is at the same time the complexity of our most recent contemporaneity.
Vítol. Laboratorio para resignificar la fiesta (Vítol; A Laboratory to Re-define the Public Festival) / February - July
Cúmul + Idensitat
In the context of Castellón, Idensitat has invited Cúmul, an artistic association and collective workshop located in Castellón, to develop an experimental project that spans a working group, a programme of activities and a shared production space. The project Vítol, A Laboratory to Re-define Festivals is, as its name states, a laboratory that attempts to re-signify the concept of the public festival, based on the conjunction of various texts, images and experiences that explain these community events and their immunising power.
Also known as the Salinas del Altet, this salt-marsh, located on the outskirts of the city, has traditionally been exploited by the salt reclamation industry. Its cartography contains the remains of office buildings and warehouses from the old salt mine, which still form part of the landscape. It is an ecosystem with a wide biodiversity which has been damaged by past building projects, and which remains unprotected. In this context, a series of meetings will be generated that aim to approach the salt-marsh from various perspectives, in collaboration with local social agents, allowing for different narratives about this location to be collectively constructed. With this project, Las Mediocre attempts to create an intersection between collective artistic practice and the socio-political and environmental issues that permeate the salt-marsh area. The process will include one part which comprises documentary research, and another part which will be more experiential in nature, welcoming a small group of interested participants to carry out activities such as bicycle excursions, walks with researchers or picnics. This will open up room for dialogue and reflection on shared experiences, in which individual participants may share their personal knowledge.
Las mediocre are an artistic collective, arising from bonds of friendship, which presently comprises eight women. They met at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, where they discovered their artistic affinities. The continuity of the group is based on mutual understanding between its members, and their ability to approach projects from a variety of artistic perspectives. Two of the themes which they explore are games, and the commons. Since the group was created in 2017, they have carried out several projects, a notable inflection point being Almuerzo Campestre (2019), which laid the foundations for subsequent work. They have taken part in curatorial projects (Expopiloto, 2019), conferences (Neither abilities nor intellect, 2020), interventions in spaces such as Galeria Punto (Caribe Mix 2020) and various actions (Volando Precario, 2021 and Castillos de Arena, 2022). They are currently developing an exhibition project that will take place from April 2022 in Pols (Valencia).
Laura Arensburg examines the body and the image in movement through video pieces, performance art and experimental encounters. She establishes intimate ties with her environment to investigate the transitions and contradictions of contemporary identity and the human body. She is a graduate of ENERC, school of the Argentine Film Institute, and of the PEI at MACBA (Spain). There she staged collective artistic interventions, guided tours from an artist's perspective, and coordinated "Cineclub: non-fiction film study group". She has received scholarships and subsidies from the Generalitat de Catalunya, INCAA (Argentina), Fondo Nacional de las Artes (Argentina), La Escocesa (Spain), Center d’Arts Santa Mònica (Spain), MecenazgoBA (Argentina). She was artist-in-residence at MACBA, Hangar, La Escocesa, Walden Residences and CIA Centro (Argentina). Her works have been exhibited in art centres such as MACBA (Spain), Fabra i Coats (Spain), Paco Urondo (Argentina), Luminaria (Spain), and in international film festivals such as Mar del Plata, L'Alternativa, Asterisco, Bogoshorts, Bideodromo, LOOP. She is currently directing her debut documentary "La Partida'' with the support of INCAA, MecenazgoBA and FNA. At the same time, she is conducting experimental research around alternative sensorialities and perceptions at the Centre d'Arts Santa Mónica.
The situation which has arisen in the wake of COVID 19 has made it impossible for the artistic community to come together in its historic meeting spaces; openings, festivals, theatre and cinema halls, collective actions, and so on. In a field such as art, where the relational dimension is so important to the creation of working and personal links for mutual support between artists and their production network, even for artists whose methodology is often based on collaboration, what happens when immunity and the danger of contagion fragments the artistic community ? How can we reinvent community spaces for artists and cultural agents where we can immunise ourselves against this situation, and be able to continue relating as a sector? How to envision meeting and gathering spaces for this new present context? Is this class, this subject, a possible opportunity for generating and producing an artistic community, starting from this point in the midst of all this chaos?
During the 1990s, hundreds of people lived through one of the largest health emergencies (and one of the largest examples of institutional helplessness) in our recent history: HIV, a virus that acutely attacked the human body, the possibility of sharing affection, and that also served to stigmatise the LGTBI community as well as providing carte blanche to generate many of the narratives of class and gender hygiene, also related to concepts of Immunity/Community. In the midst of this context, some artists made iconic pieces of art denouncing institutional abandonment and the lack of resources to sustain their health conditions, and raised awareness of the support and care networks that emerged between family members and members of the LGTBI collective in the face of abandonment and the stigma of a society in full capitalist expansion.
Pepe Espaliú's performance Carring was one of the most interesting examples of this; an action of great beauty and strength that serves, in this workshop, as an example of artistic action in which these concepts are clearly appreciated. The artist is carried by pairs of friends and acquaintances from the door of the Congress of Deputies to the Reina Sofía Museum, two of the institutions that, as an artist and as a citizen, matter in his situation of vulnerability and exclusion due to HIV. A kilometre that Espaliú repeated in Madrid and in San Sebastián, where resonances are also established between the concepts of supporting (carrying) and caring (caring).
Thus, the objective of this workshop is to suggest actions or minimal exercises, based on our artistic practices, that expand the sense of community/immunity to open a pathway towards rethinking the words community-immunity beyond the pandemic sense, where social distancing, individualisation, desocialisation, communal isolation, the increase in techno-presence, the fear of contagion, or the desire to achieve immunity have reappeared in our relationships as an artistic community, with others, and also with our own bodies.
In this workshop, the students identify a number of in-person or virtual spaces that have been key in their artistic communities from 2020 to today, communities that they have created, or that have sustained them during these two years. The workshop has featured several initiatives related to image, video and audio creation, performative actions, or the activation of public space.
Mau Monleón Pradas, class tutor, workshop collaborator with the students: Marina Osca i Redón, Paula Navarro Pérez, Alejandro Nehru Martínez Richart, Miguel Ángel Tudela, Antonio Martínez Gallego, Sabrina Ayelen Fonseca, Sandra Jover Ruano, Irene Monje Martínez and Pia Altmann.
 Espósito, R. (2009). Comunidad, Inmunidad y Biopolítica. Barcelona: Herder
Espósito, R. (2003). Communitas. Origen y destino de la comunidad. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu