coberta 300CATALYSTS. Art, Education, Territory
Exhibition 17.12. 2010 - 25.04.2011
Place: Arts Santa Mònica. La Rambla,7 08002 Barcelona. Espai Anella

Projectes by Amasté, Jordi Canudas, Santiago Cirugeda, Democracia, Josep-Maria Martín, Tanit Plana, Sinapsis and Laia Solé

CATALYSTS. Art, education, territory is an exhibition showcasing art projects and participatory processes which are grounded in a direct relationship with a particular local context. Each of this set of proposals comprises three essential components, which combine with and relate to one another with varying degrees of interaction: they are artistic practices, they foment educational activities, and they take place in a specific spatial and temporal territory or context, while embodying a critical reflection on politics and society.

Curated by: Ramon Parramon
Organized by: Arts Santa Mònica - Ministry of Culture and the Media
Produced by: Arts Santa Mònica - Ministry of Culture and the Media, ACVIC Centre d'Arts Contemporànies


CATALYSTS constitutes an exhibition of projects and processes that propose a direct relation with certain local contexts. It is about a collection of proposals that integrate three essential components that are combined with and related to each other with different levels of interaction: they constitute artistic practices, promote educational activities, and they unfold in a determined space-time territory or context, without giving up a political and social critic reflection in this space.
A catalyst is an element capable of accelerating or retarding a chemical reaction yet remaining unaltered. The catalyst acts as a mediator between the substances that have to combine to form a new element. In chemistry, to catalyse means to accelerate or retard processes of joining molecules and the artistic projects acquire a similar meaning if we apply them to people, places, circumstances or to definitive processes. The projects presented here act as  catalysts in relation with the elements that take part into the social context in which they are develop, mixing series of specify actions, that seek to activate some reactions.

These types of processes are not easily translatable to the limited space of an exposition, still essential in the art world. The projects based on collaborative and participative processes cannot be analysed with the logic of normal staging, for they form part of a territory of transversality that activates new cultural practices that can actively have a bearing on the social context.
This exhibition is planned as a possible cartography of these projects form part of a cultural action is to recognise that they are proactive in a socialising task in which the critical spirit is developed, alternatives are formed based on creativity, a spirit of coparticipation is constructed, and, in some cases, it induces a continuity in the long run, acting as a germ, being, tool or reactant for other projects.

Projects That Participate in Catalitzadors

The work that Santiago Cirugeda develops with the team from Recetas Urbanas is an artisan’s work of dynamic respresentation in the sense of putting some thing to work again but also to transform it. With the project Camiones, contenedores y colectivos, they have recycled various containers, offering them to different collectives or groups from different Spanish cities. Each one of the groups received one of several of the prefabricated houses, dismantled from an old Gypsy settlement. The container is what has been transported and customised, adapted to the activities of each group. Each of these collectives, in transforming one of these old residences, is acting like an artisan who recycles, repares and innovates, in a way that each of these containers has experienced a profound transformation and update. Dynamic repair serves to reconstruct or define projects of intervention, but also cultural or urbanistic politics.
The project Camiones, Contenedores y Colectivos has promoted the creation of a web of collectives, each one with its own structure and activity and work with self-management and self-construction to energetically participate in the creation of their social and cultural environment from where they operate.

Since 2006, the collecctive AMASTÉ and Casi Tengo 18 have been working together on DINAMIK(TT)AK, a summer work camp for adolescents in which they practice new methodologies put into use based on the collaboration between artists and instructors. Their experience is based on learning from others, and the artists as well as the instructors facilitate the fluid transmission of knowledge.

The primary objectives are to activate the creative potential of the youth in the moment of their adolescence, when individual identity is being forged, and to demonstrate that art can be a tool for mediation and a powerful mechanism to develop an active pedagogy based on the development of processes, the stimulation of creativity, and the devlopment of group abilities.


Each edition constitutes a new work camp in which participatory experiences of socio-cultural action, non-formal education are carried out, induced through a practice of socio-cultural action. They constitute an experience of educational leisure and reflection based on practices of action, so that the participants can apply creativity, imagination, and understand artistic practices from an interdisciplinary perspective. All of that is to be able to have tools at their disposal that allow them to intervene in the social and aesthetic sphere beyond just representation.  

Jordi Canudas has driven the project 1021 dies. Mercat i Memòria_ Mercat de Sant Antoni developed between 2007 and 2009, a moment in which the market was on the eve of its imminent renovation. Based on the context of the neighbourhood of Sant Antoni, in which this emblematic market of Barcelona is found, the project involved numerous people who lived, worked, and travelled there. Jordi Canudas lives in this neighbourhood, and he approaches this project like a neighbor, but in this case he acts as a catalyst between this space, its temporary circumstances, and other people who inhabit it or make it work. In this case, the «reaction» that is given off takes place in different realms based on the different phases of the project. He followed the day-to-day activities in great detail up until the definitive closing of the market to begin the remodelling. All together, the project consists of mechanisms which activate the memory, participation and representation of this public space, in a very particular historic moment characterised by being the end of a period that concludes in the moment when the transformation of the market begins. Many of the characteristic elements of the market are lost in this transition, while others appear anew. He has documented some of these, given that the essence of this project is not reduced to collecting a file of what has been, but rather to capture, demonstrate and strengthen intangible elements that compose many of the the social networks that exist in the neighbourhood. The market is the mechanism where an important part of these networks coincide, and this project reshapes them based on the daily construction during 1021 days.

Josep-Maria Martín, in collaboration with Mouhamadou Bamba, presents the work Casa Digestiva para un piso de Lavapiés produced in the context of Madrid Abierto 2010. Th It is a project based the experience of living in a flat in which the immigrant inhabitants coexist and share the experience of having arrived in Spain on a boat. This work is based on questioning the places we inhabit, and putting personal and collective memory of the place in relation with the function that the digestive apparatus does in the process of digestion: transportation, secretion, absorption and excretion. «Seeing, evaluating, analysing and intervening in that process of formation, of reuse and/or expulsion of the “fingerprints” of the different inhabitants and users of house, a territory, of a space where live acts out». The space of the house is not necessarily the space of the dwelling, but rather where they are in the neighbourhood. In this case the neighbourhood of Lavapiés in Madrid. The project consists of the approach and dialogue with those who inhabit it, numerous recordings, videos, conversations and meetings with the members of the house. The video documentary recorded as part of the project transmits this circumstance of happening to live in one place with one’s mind in another. In this case, artistic practices works in a micro-context, with an experience that is more and more focused on the individual, but whose story is transferred to much more globalized problems. The film is projected in a terrace of the neighbourhood of Raval, putting into relation the parallelism between this two neighbourhoods, the one in Barcelona and the one in Madrid.

Sinapsis, through the Trans_Art_Laboratori, program and platform, develops networking methodologies that form collaborative artistic practices. In this case, through a specific experience in the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in 2009, they initiated a project that follows the establishment of a program that activates the development of artistic practices in the medical field. This is a project that provides a reflection on the processes of construction and disseminatino of the images and contexts linked to the health industry, based on two strategies: research and intervention. The research, in collaboration with Javier Rodrigo, Rachel Fendler and Mariola Bernal, consisted of a study whose results are an archive of projects, programs, institutions, polices and a bibliography that draws an international map of artistic practices in the intersection with the medical field. This result is formalised in a publication that seeks to be a pedagogical model and guide to develop cultural policies which focus on this orientation. The other strategy consists of initiating a process to intervene in the medical world, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau de Barcelona. In this case, the artists Laia Solé and Tanit Plana were invited to do a project based on fieldwork and a later proposal that involves different aspects referring to the medical complex as well as the neighbourhood context.

With the project La terra promesa, Tanit Plana took the transfer from the old hospital to the new as a point of departure, equating it with the curative process as a transfer to a new state. In this way she divided the project into three parts: the promised land, the voyage, and what was left behind. She shows how the phases of a transition affect a being’s essence, both personal, in the case of the ill, and institutional, in the case of the hospital. Her work consisted of establishing relationships with patients in the coronary unit, and representing their moment of treatment, the previous step to being operated on. The three parts that served as an axis for coordinating the project became a metaphor for the process that the hospital was undergoing. This work concentrates on a strong emotional charge, of hope and fear, of confusion and excitement. It is presented in the form of a large video projection that narrates the moment in which the sick are about to cross the threshold that separates them from their biggest desire, to recover their health.

Laia Solé’s work is based on displacement. It is a work for a hospital initiated in 2009 with the title of Grada Zer0, which is resumed in 2010, opening a new path with the project Terreny de Joc. With the Grada Zer0 project she proposes a rapprochement between the context of the hospital and the neighbourhood where it is located, based on three different actions. On one hand, she documented the spaces and common codes between the three neighbouring entities: the Hospital, the Guinardó Municipal Sports Complex, and the Guinardó Civic Centre. After, she made a short publication that collects the stories from the first action, and that combine the themes of health, sport and belonging to a collective. The third part consists of an iconographic format with three flags in which the three emblematic buildings are represented, and they emulate, through colours, the hemodynamic team of the hospital, the Martinenc Football Club, and the Guinardó Bowling Club. This last part concluded with a festive celebration of the project with a tournament between the three teams.
One year later, Laia Solé continued this work by initiating a new phase of the project. Terreny de Joc became a new project which is fortified by her previous contacts and experiences in the area, but it goes a step further in the sense of creating a strategy of representation and participation by the workers, neighbours, and members of the entities. It recovers and gives continuity to a process which speaks to us of the local realities of the neighbourhood of Guinardó. She constructs a video document together with a printed edition based on the stories of people and knitting a narrative based on the observations of the place. She once again puts into relation the triangle of instutitions that occupy a symbolic and physical space in the context of the neighbourhood.

Democracia and Welfare State (Smash the ghetto) have a project that was finished in 2007, and was based on a work process during two years, documenting the dismantling of one of the largest shantytowns of Europe, located in the municipality of El Salobral on the southern outskirts of Madrid. While in the previous example the neighbourhood was visualised within the normalised canons of a population that forms part of a welfare state, in this case we are talking about a neighbourhood formed by a displaced and deterritorialised social class that lives in a ghetto. The work of Democracia is to represent the final scene, its disappearance, leaving many questions up in the air about the context to which they are referring. They do not explain anything related to its history or the people. The video documentary mixes images of the dismantling of the neighbourhood with images recorded based on the fictitious spectacle in the same neighbourhood. In some moments the pick is destroying the shanties, in others, a similar and customised crane is dancing in a group of spectators. This is not simply another documentary about the topic. To know more, one must inquire about the other documents that belong to other languages, such as the journalistic, statistical, urbanistic or welfare. In fact, this is a work about the language of the reader, a reader turned into a spectator, and a language turned into a spectacle. The crudity of the direct message evokes a déjà vu, for many times we have attended a similar representation through the media. The reiteration increases the protective armour that shields us and distances us from that which is problematic. It constructs a new reality based on the fiction that stages reality itself, the spectator remains trapped and becomes part of the spectacle. This work from Democracia brings us to a dead-end street, the artist does not act as a mediator to resolve the problem of the inhabitants being evicted, but the artist acts as a mediator between the real scene and the spectacle, the spectator becomes conscious of his status as part of an integrated civil society, which can do little more than be an observer waiting for a type of teletransmitted reality.

Arts Santa Mònica, exhibition images