10 / 10 / 2016


The Question: How (from your experience and perspective) do artistic practices create public sphere?

Potentially, any artistic practice has the possibility of creating the public sphere. From my experience and from what I have been able to contribute as a cultural producer, I can see that there are two very concrete forms: one direct and the other more indirect.

In the indirect form I would include those projects in which I have worked with artists who construct spaces that might favour encounters for discussion and for tackling questions that are related to “the public”. As part of the Donostia 2016 project, two examples could be cited that come to mind especially. One is Tuiza by Federico Guzmán, which was presented in Madrid and consists in an artistic intervention that serves as an agora in which an enormous number of activities take place that enable reflection on post-colonialism, the role of women, etcetera… The work itself generates that space that favours the construction of the public sphere, but that is additional since the artist also creates the context. And along the same lines, another slightly more subtle example is the work Fuentes/Iturriak by Maider López. This is a project we presented recently. Apart from the discourse contained in the piece itself (recovery of memory, etcetera), what it finally generates is a common space where citizens and visitors to the city can interact with each other and reflect on different questions. These range from urban planning and history to other questions that could serve even for speaking about the status as a capital, and for holding debates that could influence the idea of constructing the public sphere.

And with respect to the direct form, I was reading the work of an artist who interests me, Fernando Sánchez Castillo. He would be an example of those artists who practice to the maximum the critical function that art can have. In one way or another they do the direct work of regulating authority, trying to put a limit on the actions of the state. One of the functions of the public sphere is to exercise control over political power and there are artists who work directly from that critical position. I was reading about Sánchez Castillo because I was very interested in the recent piece he made for the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico and I was especially interested in the title of his three interventions on the massacre of Tlatelolco square: Hoy también fue un día soleado (Today was a sunny day too), which was the stratagem of the mass media to hide the dramatic events that had taken place. It refers to the role that the mass media can play at times to eliminate precisely those events that the state doesn’t want, that authority doesn’t want. And closer to my experience, what also comes to mind is the project of the Mexican collective Tercerunquinto that we did for Matadero. This was a really important challenge because it made visible the interactions between municipal power and the shanty town districts where drugs are openly sold. The idea was to generate a link that consisted in collecting stones and using them to block the doors of the offices of different people involved in municipal power, so that what happens in those districts – misery, ruin, deterioration – should be present in the places where decisions are taken.