the spur magazine

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Contemporary art, a spur for the recuperation of creative spaces in cities

From C to K, from a convent for nuns to a convent for artists

Rosa Cerarols

The Konvent is an ancient convent that dates from the 19th century converted into a multidisciplinary art centre. Inside its walls, it displays what cannot be found in a museum or a gallery. It is a space for art. But what makes it different from other centres is that the Konvent is also a way of producing and understanding culture rooted in the site as palimpsest. Our main aim is to improve life and bring culture to the people through dissemination of our art. We follow our instincts as we search without losing our individual expressiveness or different sensibilities, and we are trying to move away from the institutionalized formats used to exhibit art. Not less important are our efforts to confer dignity on the environment, a unique and changing landscape, where the content and the container/continent do not always fit. So, the ruins of yesterday’s industry there stands a cultural space that itself is a re-interpretation of the role of factories in the history of the Llobregat. During the crisis in the textile industry, lots of factories had to close and many industrial spaces were left unused, empty. When Konvent began in 1992, the main idea was to awaken Cal Rosal from its stupor of idleness and bring its crumbling and decaying spaces back to life by making art.

The essence of our project is freedom, which means giving up the things that most official organisations focus on. This also means, of course, no public subsidies. The Konvent funds itself; it has its own centripetal and centrifugal forces, an organic way of being that others would now like to follow. However, Konvent has collaborated and is collaborating with many collectives. In fact, this way of working is one of the foundational pillars of the project, which has been very fruitful. Over the years, we have built up a wide network that we continue to strengthen and grow both locally and internationally.

The Konvent functions on a glocal scale and in a multidisciplinary way. This means that, apart from a continuous programme of artistic – boundary-less- events, we put our work into the community in which we live and work. We also care deeply about maintaining the building and giving it back its dignity, recovering historical memories by working in completely new ways outside the bounds of the cultural norm, and the inescapable, grounding, need to think about who we are and what we are doing, making us ever more committed to making a difference. It is, finally, a cultural re-boot that we believe necessary.

Konvent was not started as an alternative to anything, it was the other way round, the place chose us, the Konvent. As it happens, this ancient convent is located in Central Catalonia, alongside the River Llobregat, an emblem of one of the most dynamic types of industry from those not-so-long-ago times. In this setting, we like to change the landscape, to turn the periphery into the centre. In fact, we mainly act locally but with are always open to the wider world. We do not believe in an urban-rural, inner-outer- dialectic, we are looking to do something that really captures our minds, our hearts, our essence. So, we work together on ideas from around the world that we think can have an impact on our immediate environment. In other words, we still have our feet on the ground, but our heads remain in the creative clouds.

We do not have pre-any set requirements or limitations in terms of artistic production. We are resilient. The Konvent offers: a unique space with installations to support all types of activity, collective or individual, as well as commons spaces for social interaction and discussion. In exchange, we search for ideas that speak of a new and renewed notion of cultural creation. We are open to projects that enrich artistic discourse, that disturb us, deconstruct us or provide us with authenticity. We like unfinished ideas, the freshness of the unimaginable and irreverent complicity with the spectator. Nonetheless, we are sensitive to any ideas for work in the Konvent and in the life of every day, in the everyday life that surrounds it.

More information at: www.konvent.cat

Rosa Cerarols

Rosa Cerarols is Doctor in Geography, teacher and researcher in the Humanities Department in the Pompeu Frabra University. She has been co-director of the Konvent project for more than ten years, where she develops cross-cutting methodologies in managing, production and programming tasks. The Konvent is a 19th century nun convent reconverted into a Contemporary Art Centre. It’s aim is cultural enhancement and mediation through artistic diffusion in an environment of industrial colonies in the Llobregat area.