Territory/ies, Community/ies and Artistic Practices

7 July, 2021 - 08:49

The aim of the project “Territory/ies, Community/ies and Artistic Practices” is to create a joint research project, revolving around artistic creation with communities and the territory, between three creation factories: Ateneu Popular 9 Barris, La Central del Circ and El Graner. The idea behind the project is to reconsider the concept of territory as a common place and move through new relational contexts from the perspective of cultural practice beyond consumer goods. The project, which is scheduled to take place over three years, involves accepting the need to reflect together on the type of culture we create in the neighbourhoods of Trinitat Nova, Besòs and La Marina, respectively. Looking at this need based on two-way actions, the aim is to think about what strategies to deploy in order to reach the neighbourhoods and how to build spaces for the exchange of horizontal and emancipatory knowledge.


The project is promoted by Ateneu Popular 9 Barris, La Central del Circ and El Graner with support from Barcelona City Council’s Creation Factories programme.

Stage 1: Conference on “Territory/ies, Community/ies and Artistic Practices” (2020)

The conference on “Territory/ies, Community/ies and Artistic Practices” was held on 16, 17 and 18 October 2020. This was a travelling event jointly organised by La Central del Circ, Ateneu Popular 9 Barris and El Graner to reflect on community artistic creation from the perspective of circus arts, dance, movement and the performing arts. The proposal emerged from the three creation factories’ common need to share their knowledge and practice on such creations and their wish to do so jointly, in partnership, appealing to people (both artists and non-artists) wanting to take part in the reflection. The conference at the Biennale of Thought thus became the first meeting point for the three factories, three facilities founded at different times and in different geographic areas, that produce different types of art and whose connections with their surroundings are also different from each other’s. 


El Graner, more specifically, started off from the following questions: how can you go from participating in an art project to collaboration between communities? How can you rethink the idea of ​​territory in a collective way so it can become a common place? How can you work with artistic bodies to create relational contexts of cultural practice and experience? How can you go from social return to social impact? Where does the need for a creation factory to promote collective action with and for the community come from?


And our work was based on the following activations:


• Darrere de la muntanya is the stage work based on the group Nyam Nyam’s work A quatre potes based on a project carried out with the district of La Marina. With Imma Solé from the Institut Montjuïc and various local families, Nyam Nyam have travelled through the neighbourhood and, together with Dianelis Diéguez, Pedro Pineda, Salva Sanchís and Anna Rovira, they have created this theatrical device: a space for action where the public and the creators can move freely and that examines the emergence of daily life in stage works.


• The panel discussion “Arts en viu” [“Performance Arts”], with Nyam Nyam and Imma Solé: rather than a panel discussion, the event, based on a concept referring to processes both within and between communities, takes the form of a set of workshops. The stage device presented in Darrere de la muntanya will serve as the starting point for a discussion, and the way “live arts” provide a space for action and reflection will be shared in a practical way.


• Panel discussion titled “Escena expandida” [“Extended Stage”], with Dianelis Diéguez, Aurora Bauzà and Pere Jou: The starting point for the discussion is the need to bring the most experimental and genuine practices to conventional settings. So that the idea of an extended stage is to focus on those things that we don’t usually concentrate on. This will be done by drawing up a new glossary redefining all these matters.


• Panel discussion titled “Pràctiques relacionals” [“Relational Practices”] with Roger Bernat: looking at the territory as a socially built space crossed by the community approach, a variety of working methods will be discussed. Practices that cross boundaries, that are somewhere between physical activity and group dynamics.



Artists and creators, thinkers and activists were invited to contribute to a thought process using different types of inputs and information with the aim of increasing diversity in views and practices while combining the shared interest in community creations. In addition, people with ties to community practices or close to the factories were invited to subject themselves to these inputs and to share their questions and thinking in a group. The report is a set of arguments, ideas and questions that emerged during the conversations held in the Biennale of Thought, the materials provided by the people who had been asked to act as facilitators in the spaces, the participants and the visions of the three factories’ technical experts. In order to be sure that the voices of the people who took part in the conference were reflected in this document, a panel discussion with a group of participants was held after the Biennale.  


Although the aim was to keep a sense of heterogeneity and the various points on which the speeches were based, the various events were treated as a single conference. In order to standardise the contents, lines of argument were proposed and the temporality of the activities was maintained. The report starts with an overview of each part of the conference and continues with the opening actions. The panel discussions are then presented consecutively, addressing the facilitators’ proposal, what happened during the workshops, the methods and devices employed and the glossaries or questions drawn up or raised.  This was followed by a presentation of the concepts that permeated all three spaces, and proceedings were finally closed with the new questions that had arisen for potential future investigations. 


The following people contributed their narratives to this report: Ro Caminal, Constanza Brnčić, Jorge Albuerne, Rocío Manzano, Mariló Fernández, Lali Álvarez, Ariadna Rodríguez, Iñaki Álvarez, Aurora Bauzà and Pere Jou, Dianelis Diéguez, Roger Bernat, Núria Tarragó, Mariona Soler, Elies Martínez, Thomas Louvat, Aida Ballester, Joan Casas, Jon Elola, Gregorio Torchia, Ana Saint-Dizier, Monia Braghini, Núria Guiu, Ariadna Miquel, Sara Caeiro and Marissa Patuví.




Phase 2: labs (2021)

The second phase is based on labs held between April and June 2021. During the first quarter of the year, the three participating factories designed these labs from a common place: the analysis, tools, methods, strategies and reports obtained during the 2020 Biennale of Thought, organised around this framework of thought. The labs’ constituent elements are based on the needs and desires expressed by the participants in each territory.


Each of them starts from a very different place characterised by its history, its relationship with the territory and the community and its unique sphere of action. But they are also based on collectively raised issues: how do we reach a common narrative between factories that, rather than standardising, respects the differences and realities that make us unique? Where does the need for creation factories to promote collective actions with and for the community come from?


Dianelis Diéguez also takes part in this second phase, supporting the research. She will ensure there is a global and collective approach to the project, which is jointly coordinated by the three facilities, in order to influence visions and ways of doing things and enrich them by learning from each other.  


The labs:


• The lab launched by Ateneu Popular 9 Barris is designed as a space for creating emotional bonds, somewhere where you can express yourself freely and have positive emotions in these dark times. The lab, which is based on participants’ life stories, stories of struggles and resilience, aims to provide a space of mutual support where people can share experiences while highlighting the socio-economic inequalities or oppression suffered by the people who live there. The participants are 15 men, women and young people aged 13 to 76 with different origins and from different backgrounds, with the support of Rufi Rodríguez (a circus artist with extensive experience in community projects) and Lorena Hernández (an actress with a lot of experience in social theatre projects and community creation in the territory).


• ASSENTAMents is La Central del Circ’s lab and involves an initial field research phase with Ro Caminal and a second creative research phase with Jorge Albuerne. The lab, which is aimed at the artistic community and features the collaboration of people from the territory with experience in the subjects it deals with, is based on the memory of the people who once lived in the Camp de la Bota slum. The common thread running through the lab will be the current and past situation of unofficial settlements in the neighbourhood of Besòs and Maresme, with the aim of putting into practice methods for approaching territories and their people while exploring artistic devices capable of shaping the information and voices collected during the research phase.


• For its part, the El Graner lab is the research and joint creation process between the artists Pere Jou and Aurora Bauzà and Les Aventureres (a set of local women who form part of the Sant Cristòfol Choir in the district of La Marina). Maria Àngels, Enriqueta, Amàlia, Maria Luisa, Sole and Isabel adopted this name a few months ago, when they took part in a contemporary creation at El Graner for the first time. Pere Jou and Aurora Bauzà's Aquí i no allà is an artistic research project on the relationship between the body, the voice and the mechanisms for constructing individual and collective identity that deals with issues such as vulnerability and empowerment. The project was designed as a joint research project between the artists and the local women, working from the memory and life stories rooted in the territory to develop a stage device that is somewhere between opera and contemporary dance. It is a case of mutual impact between the creators and Les Aventureres while new relationships between the factory's communities and the neighbourhood are woven.


This phase of the project will end with a day of sharing at Hangar on 21 June. The processes of research and creation, reflections and experiences will be shared with participants of the three labs and the factory network.

Closing meeting at Hangar


Meeting of the collaborative project “Territory/ies, Community/ies and Artistic Practices” at Hangar.


The following labs were held this spring: ASSENTAMents at La Central del Circ, with Ro Caminal and Jorge Albuerne; Ilusión Creativa, with Rufi Rodríguez and Lorena Hernández at Ateneu Popular 9 Barris; and the Aquí i no allà creation process, with Pere Jou, Aurora Bauzà and Les Aventureres, continues at El Graner.


Although the factories each have very different starting points and relationships with their contexts, the mark left by these lab activities is undoubtedly the insistence on a relationship that involves greater awareness of each creation factory’s environment and, above all, the wish to activate there a relationship that takes account of the particular nature of the space, the local residents’ daily routines and the forging of closer ties with the people at their core.


At the same time as holding the labs, the three creation factories continue to meet, helping the project grow and raising questions about community creation. This is why a conference to share and discuss some of the practices and reflections worked on until now was organised.

The meeting, which was held at Hangar on 21 June, included an initial part involving a presentation and sharing session between the city’s creation factories network and technical experts from the Barcelona Institute of Culture (ICUB) and the Neighbourhood Plan, and a second part involving a conversation between people who had taken part in the labs held as part of the “Territory/ies, Community/ies and Artistic Practices” project, moderated by Dianelis Diéguez.


A practical session for creating a narrative for the project through the collective creation of a fanzine, with Irkus Martínez (Máquina Total), was also held on 21 June.