When Marc Augé spoke of territory and space he pivoted the intangible abstract set against the measurable corporeal. When I conducted the project entitled “A place under the sun” for the CCBA in Buenos Aires, we shut ourselves away to rethink what the ideal format should be as a container for the arts, but also to suggest that the place is not the project. Discussing the benefits to be achieved by reactivating abandoned spaces to generate useful programmes for the community was one of the aims we pursued at the meeting held in Girona last year, linking it to The Spur.
Historically speaking, we have had paradigmatic institutional examples in the Spanish State, such as Arteleku (in Basque: “place for art”), set up in 1987 in an insignificant lift factory in the remote neighbourhood of Loiola in San Sebastian, which housed the different phases of creation-dissemination-reflection-documentation within its walls, similarly relating to the local community. The building wasn’t too important in Arteleku, the contents were what mattered. These same contents are those which sought refuge in derelict factories and disused warehouses, as spaces of freedom for hybridizations throughout the 1980s and 1990s. As an example of the above, we have the spaces of the European Trans Europe Halles network, created in 1983 upon the basis of the relationship between different partners, independent entities established in old industrial locations, markets and/or military barracks. Constructions with external memories, not conceived as cultural facilities, but renovated, sometimes very precariously, as places for production and dissemination, focusing on emergent and contemporary creation in all its innovative artistic, cultural and social forms. In the Spanish state, especially in the 1990s, more and more independent spaces, artistic nuclei in contact with non-gentrified neighbourhoods, also expanded this idea that has gradually become a strategy lying between discovery and failure, often short-termist, and others, depending on their size, spaces capable of regenerating themselves and organically advancing in keeping with the social, economic and artistic times.
Ester Prat mentions Roca Umbert Fàbrica de les Arts, a space covering 21.000 m² in the centre of Granollers belonging to the Town Council, which, like the Kovent, a former convent located in Berga, has become a space of contemporary creation, as Rosa Cerarols explains.
From another standpoint, also with the idea of reconversion, through the Fang Association Joanot Cortés introduces us to the development of ‘La Volta’, an initiative seeking to activate the neighbourhood of Sant Narcís in Girona, reopening closed establishments for varied artistic uses and generating a new circuit within the city. While the above occurs in urban areas, similar ideas can also rethink and activate natural spaces. Thus, Martí Peran, an art critic and curator, explains the La Pletera project in Torroella de Montgrí, a natural space which has had a stable project since 2012.
In all the above cases we can see the need for this idea of the long term to be fundamental, even if we work in the present and within a changing context, as education and the generation of synesthesia with the nearby population, as well as unrelated audiences, interlocutors and cultural agents, can help to activate them and make them visible in both local and international terms, thus supporting their funding and continuity.