the spur magazine

#02 art, ciència, tecnologia i la ciutat

Contemporary Art. Communication and good practices

Activation of abandoned spaces for the benefit of the community

Nekane Aramburu

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.

Nekane Aramburu

Nekane Aramburu is a cultural manager and curator, a graduate of Art History with a master’s degree in Museology, who has broad-reaching international experience linked to contemporary creation. She is a specialist in the analysis of management and construction of cultural policies and visual production. In the past, she invigorated collections and museums including for the museums’ network of the Diputación Foral de Álava and the Fundación Kutxa, and for centres such as Espacio Ciudad (Vitoria- Gasteiz), for which she was responsible from 1999 to 2010.

She is currently the director of the Es Baluard museum, a place to which she acceded by international competition in 2013, exercising since then the functions of head of economic, administrative and human resources, being also her artistic director and curator of her main exhibitions.

Ever since starting out, in parallel to her work on the management of museums and institutions, she has been interested in culture as a laboratory for exploration, comprehension and mediation of contexts and material and intangible heritage, based on tentacular projects set between unconventional spaces and the museum. Thus, she has developed specific projects as a specialist in electronic art and in independent collectives and spaces, delving deep into extensive studies such as Archivos colectivos: Historia y situación actual de los espacios independientes y colectivos de artistas en España 1980 hasta 2010 (Ministry of Culture), Caras B del videoarte en España (Berlin / Dakar / Bangkok / Seoul / Sidney / Prague or Gaur(sic) (London / Managua / Costa Rica / Honduras / Cordoba, Argentina / Santiago de Chile, Albi / France with Aecid / Instituto Etxepare). As a curator, she has worked both on retrospectives and on research and themed exhibitions.

As a result, she has conceived and directed exhibition projects, mediation platforms such as seasonal cycles and seminars focussing both on general education and on specific training. An editor and the author of over forty books, she has been a consultant for several different institutions and entities, and a member of juries at international events.