Madrid Research Trip January 2011

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Madrid Research Day 1

Here are some Reflections, Challenges & Ideas to try in Practice from the Madrid Research Trip January 2011

Day 3: 10 Jan - A Walk in Madrid

Meeting with El Ranchito

Here are the 10 January 2011 CP and El Ranchito Meeting notes from before introducing the Walk.

Pre-Walk Meeting
El Ranchito welcomed and updated the group on Matadero and Metod began a round of introductions of those present for the Walk:
Neil Cummings
Marsha Bradfield
Scott Schwager
Metod Blejec
Iván López Munuera
Gema Melgar
Catarina Saraiva
Manuela Villa
Frank Buschmann (Intermedia)
María Bella (Intermedia)
Marcos García: (Media Lab)
Diego+Camilo: Husos
Manuel+Manuel: Zoohaus
Zoe: Intermediae Mediator
Flavia: Off limits
Pepa Octavio: Matadero
Javier Laporta: Matadero


Fig 1: Preparing for the Walk

Neil introduced CP as a flat collective porous structure, invited by ER and Marsha described our focus on criticality and sustained engagement. I (Scott) spoke about the walk summarizing Notes for a Walk in Madrid. Then, beginning with Frank, from Intermediae, the group drew points of interest on a map from which we planned a route.

CP+ER WalkMap SM.jpg
Fig 2: Map of a Walk in Madrid

We counted off in fours to form subgroups and and asked each group, which had a CP member, to take and return photographs of with comments on the maps.

The Walk
We walked around the extraordinary enormous Matadero, under construction. The fresh air, walk and work inspired conversation about what it could be. Frank recounted on the Intermediae's experience there, and the building originally intended for it. Discussion about challenges (re)development included the potential for the many buildings to generate cross-pollination and collaboration across the disciplines and groups there.


Fig 3: Frank from Intermediae

Fig 4: Walk in Madrid: Group 2

We walked through the streets around Matadero undergoing regeneration, including a methadone centre.

Charged by a wealth of stories, we stopped in the café where an emergent dialogue about the potential of the Walk for Matadero and ER ensued. A map could be developed as a resource, an accumulation of knowledge, for visiting artists to further develop, and for other visitors to Matadero to use. Manuela recalled a local program of students mapping. We discussed how maps could generate overlaps and knowledge about each others' activities between the local community including schools and the elderly who meet in the district building cafe and Rachito and artists visiting through guiding groups to each other's spaces

Fig 5: Dialogue continues into Cafe


Fig 6: Frank's Sketch of Matadero along the walk drawn while brainstorming about a new resource of a map of the area of accumulated knowledge

The Walk Continues
Inspired by the dialogue, we passed the clock tower where a temporary sound installation had been installed and discussed how while this piece had crossed the boundary between Matadero and the district, had socio-political bridges been built across the different communities and publics? We crossed the river on a new bridge opened a few weeks earlier, which has a commissioned mosaic ceiling that included public participation.


Fig 7: New Bridge with Mosaic Roof

The Walk was richer than the consensus hoped for in that it created context for multiple narratives of work experiences and individual anecdotes about the area, discussion outside the workspace, and dialogue in subgroups of people from different groups. From this each subgroup would have its own consensus or several views from which, although one initial direction, map and end time had emerged, many points of interest and different experiences and perspectives along the way would be captured.


Fig 8: Walking aside the award winning playground

Jemma of Usera said that the new park encouraged people to walk along the river. The sense of closeness and safety encourages people to cycle rather than bus to work as before. A challenge will be to expose this area to Matadero. We passed an award winning playground (walking above the highway recently moved underground), the second new bridge, and crossed the old bridge back to Matadero wondering about project roles. Is El Ranchito a prototype, mini alter ego of Matadero or something else?

Fig 9: Matadero from the Old Bridge

We finished at 2:45pm and nine of us ate in a local restaurant where, reflecting on how Metod and I had facilitating the walk, Catarina and I discussed two person collaborations including Encounters (2005-6; where Catarina co-directed 6 artists to invite one person each to collaborate with, The Otolith Group, Cornford & Cross, Lucy & Jorge Orta, and Victor Erice & Abbis Kiarostami (CCCB/Barcelona), who were born the same year, have common references, but are of different nationalities and cultures of Spain and Iran.


Fig 10: Discussion after the Walk over Lunch

More pictures and details of the Walk in Madrid can be seen on Day 3: 10 Jan - A Walk in Madrid, Further Details

After the walk Critical Practice met at Bolivar 24 to debrief on the Walk and brief 11 January. To see notes click Debrief on a Walk on in Madrid

Day 4: 11 Jan - Brainstorming

After a very successful day on Monday by having walked with a group of amazing, intense and passionate people we were wondering how can we harvest some of the enthusiasm and use it in our brainstorming session on Tuesday's early afternoon. After another sleepless night we have met with Neil at 11am in El Ranchito's flat aiming to discuss how are we going to approach forth coming session.

We have drafted rather intense questions a couple of days prior with which we have not been entirely sure they they will serve their purposes on the day. We thought it would be better to animate the day by putting a couple of forms and systems in place.

CP+ER BrainstormingSession SM.jpg
Brainstormers (from left to right): Frank, Gema, Marsha, Javier, Catarina, Scott, Neil, Pablo, Manualla, Pepa, Ivan and me (Metod taking this photo).

We decided to brake ice with a rather lively "game" of answering "what if..." questions. We drafted our question as: what if El Ranchito was...? Questions would be written on top of the A4 page and would get answered by people in the room without reading previously answered questions. This ice-breaker was followed by a more direct and "hard-core" questions. First question asked was: what do they (El Ranchito) want from opening events? Third question was directed to El Ranchito themselves: what do they want from El Ranchito? Next question we have planned to ask but had skipped due to time limitations: what do they (El Ranchito) want from the commission? and what do they (El Ranchito) want from collaborations? And last but not least: What are the perceived risks for the events?, what makes you apprehensive? and what are the challenges?

With this in mind we went to the session and proposed we split in groups of 4 (13 people were present, and group no.1 had 5). We also decided to use A4 paper for the "what if..." part, and posteds for the more hard-core questions. 2h later we have intensely stormed our brains from which great debates and conversations sprung to life.

We brake for lunch and go to the restaurant above the petrol station where we continue the conversation. Frank describes his professional and creative life in a nut shell and we all listen...

CP Marsha Documenting SM.jpg
CP Scott Scribing SM.jpgCP Neil Tired SM.jpg
Top: Marsha in her designated role - photo-documenting. Left: Scott in his designated role - scribing. Right: Neil after a long (long) session squatting but still contributing.

After we have been fed we reconvene in the seminar room at Matadero and see if we can make the sense of generative early afternoon. We started scribing key words from the pos its. We conclude on three topics — events, El Ranchito and risks — having gone through hundreds of post its.

CP+ER Events SM.jpgCP+ER ElRanchito SM.jpgCP+ER Risks SM.jpg
Scribed after brainstorming sessions: events, El Ranchito and Risks.

We leave Matadero tired but energized in knowing that we are getting closer step by step to having a better understanding what El Ranchito is, what it aspires towards, what is happening between April and September and where is our (CP) position in this activation?

Neil leaves for his bus at the roundabout and we continue to the shop and back to the flat where Scott cooks a meal and I (Metod) type the night away.

So far so great...

Day 5: 12 Jan - Critical Practice Internal Day


We all met at Bolivar 24 at 11am and reviewed draft of the Parade legacy publication--It's nearly done. Boyd by the publication's imminent printing, we enthusiastically discussed possible proposals for the Matadero (spring - fall, 2011). We decided to develop our ideas further over the research trip - more on this...COMING SOON!


In the afternoon we headed to Intermediea at the Matadero, where Neil introduced us to the group's archival process and self-organization. He's been working with Intermediae for some time now, which may help to explain why the group shares so many affinities with CP: an interest in emergent and organic forms of self-governance; a commitment to documenting and producing publicly available resources; and fascination with creating hybrid spaces where various modes of assembly and forms of address coexist. Intermediea is especially inspirational in the latter regard: witness the ping pong table, free wifi, light refreshments (tea), free computers (with tech support!), fantastic furniture...

Always generous with his time, input and enthusiasm, Frank from Intermediae explained the group's emerging ethos. It's also outline on Intermediea's

Intermediæ is an institution for Contemporary Creation that is permanently under construction, part of the Arts Area of the Madrid City Council.

The objective of Intermediæ is to investigate and test forms through which definitions are found that project a different model for public institutions in keeping with the context of today. Its work is based on three fundamental ideas: creation as a means of exploration, research and experimentation; process and participation as formulas for development.

Intermediæ has a variety of spaces to suit the activities carried out in them and projects organized as temporary platforms for sharing explorations of common interests and questions.

The Programa de Ayudas a la Creación (Creative Arts Grants Programme) is the main channel open to participation, for the purpose of receiving proposals from individual creators and groups, cultural agents and associations.

Intermediae publishes a notebook titled Borrador (Draft) to explain and update its evolution over time. Borrador #1 and Borrador #2 have already been published and Borrador #3 will soon be available.

That evening, Scott and Marsha headed to the Prado to see paintings by Velasquez, Goya, El Greco and more. A feast for the eyes! Metod revisited the Atlas Exhibition at Reina Sophia and we ended the evening back at our favorite bar. Another brilliant day.

Day 6: 13 Jan - Future Archive

Based on a method developed by Manuela Zechner for the Future Archive, its now the future, it's 2050, and we are looking back on El Ranchito and the Matadero and what they enabled.

We meet at 10am in the appartment to review the format and assign roles for the Future Archive Workshop.

At 11am we arrive and draw a timeline on the wall to capture some of the information, thoughts and speculations. (the timeline was a modification to the method introduced by Intermediae).

We break into three groups, with one CP member as facilitator/interviewer for the journey into the future. We travel and speculate for about an hour and then collectively report back and capture material for the timeline.

CP+ER FutureArch 1 SM.jpg

We notice themes, correalations and wild possibilities.

CP+ER FutureArch 2 SM.jpg

CP+ER FutureArch 3 SM.jpg
Is this the future Frank??

We set off again in the same groups, and building on the first journey try to be more specific about the role of culture and its institutions in this new environment. Its hard, easy to slip away into ihead applications and instant access to everything.... after another hour we stop. Members of El Ranchito have to leave, as CP we stay a while to reflect, post on the timline and catch breath. Its exhausting. We produced masses of ideas and a general sense of direction.

CP+ER FutureArch 4 SM.jpgCP+ER FutureArch 5 SM.jpg
Our end of the timeline goes well passed 2050...





Day 7: 14 Jan - BarCamps on Collaboration & Cooperation


Critical Practice and El Ranchito/and others around Collaboration/Cooperation. location: Matadero, Madrid. Start 1800 hours and ending 2000 hours.

Few mints introduction by Neil Cummings to all part takers .

Depending on the number of participants we will have either one group or two. Two people to time keep

Metod to time keep for one group and scribing for it

Karem is to time keep the second group and Scott to scribe for the second group.

As discussed we split into two groups. Neil made an introduction to one group and Scott the other.

Part takers in one group

Scott Schwager Frank Buschmann Jaron Rowan Pepa Octavio De Toledo Amador Fdez-S Marcos Garcia Karem Ibrahim Zoohous (group)

The BarCamp started by Scott giving an introduction of the idea of the bar-camp where it come from and how it works, and at the end of his short introduction invited part takers to write down their names and what they are talking about on the chart.

First to go was Scott, he spoke about the difference between Collaboration, co operation and participation and he gave his own definition and understanding of each and how he works with each of them.

Frank then spook about Responsibility, common goals and Participation. He talked about the way, in which the term participation has become empty and void of any real part taking and how that participants never know how the decision making process works( lake of transparency of how decisions are made). He also spook about effective participation in relation to Ranchito and Matadero.

Followed by Jaron, who concentrated on the difference between co operation and collaboration, and how he thought, that co operation carry more wait, he gives an example in one of the project in Spain 60s-70s(not sure about the date) where workers were encouraged to form cooperatives, then take on the ownership, management and production work in a given factory. By doing so the workers (participants) have the power to produce and that gives a strong stream of sustainable mode of production.

Pepa, than spook of the difficulty of having sustainable frame work between organizations, artist and collaborators, and she concluded that it is not easy to establish such frame work, but by having long term relationships between all involved it would be possible.

Amador, talked about the idea of plug in network and how that people can be part of some thing that so big but in a very individual existence, he also refereed to a place in Madrid (as a result of the social networks on the nest- like FaceBook) where individuals from different walks of life with different interests, come together in one place where they practice all their own individual hobbies together. He then talked about how that individual working method dose not allow for a strong stream of production.

Marcos, talked bout Common Space and Common Resources he gave some examples of common self organization of certain resources and how that they work some times and other times do not. (common-grazing gourds, cows, fisheries, fish) - Common institutions have to be divers - Ecology, co operation-particular rules - Communities are built through the process of knowledge and discovering the common.

I (Karem) talked about how collaboration is the only choice (practice-Method).

Then ZooHous (three members of Zoohous) talked bout the dichotomy of semantics, and how it could divert from meeting points into misunderstandings.

More to follow.










Day 8: 15 Jan - The day of peace and quiet...

Saturday passed very peacefully. We all spent it on or own...some even reflected on the week...

Day 9: 16 Jan - Airport, hand shake and back to the future

Karem, Neil and I (Metod) met at Madrid international airport Terminal 4S at a gate 26S. We exchange few ideas and reflections about our rather exciting week, board BA flight to drizzly London and separate till Friday 21. January for The Big Ideas meeting...

If intensity such as this past week continues we'll have to consider some holidays in the future... (Can we get funding for holidays?? Lets look into it... I'll set up an enthusiasm index...)

Here are some Reflections, Challenges & Ideas to try in Practice from the Madrid Research Trip January 2011

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