Empty Spaces

City of Pieces – an urban festival of creative practices

This post comes to you from Cultura21


22nd to 30th of October

Maraa, a media and arts collective, invites to City of Pieces, an urban festival of creative practices:
City of pieces is a nine day festival that interrogates the violence of the everyday transformation of the city from the perspective of creative practice. This festival marks the third anniversary of Theatre Jam, a monthly forum to trigger dialogues about art and media in the public space through practice, performance and expression. It travels across different public and semi-public spaces, committed to reclaim dead, found and empty spaces in the city. City of pieces brings artists and creative practitioners to respond to the city we inhabit.
The city transforms and we continue to experience it in fragments, in the debris of what once was and the flash-forwards of its future in fresh grey concrete. And we move through it refracted in fragments with every contact with it. But as this city of pieces forms us it is formed by us in turn- a disjointed tapestry of multiple stories, desires and memories. As the week unfolds, urban pieces and fragments are gathered and re-combined to tell a different story that acknowledges the creative modes of negotiating this city shaped by the violence of transformation. Through storytelling, films, performance, poetry and conversations we hope to make sense of an ever changing Bangalore.

Reposted from: http://maraa.in/arts/city-of-pieces/

Be part of the last two events and register today:

Middle of somewhere | Theatre Workshop 29 Oct | Cubbon Park Band Stand | 10 am-3 pm

Middle of Somewhere was a performance done last year, set between scaffolding in a dilapidated house on Rest House Street. This performance used personal stories that were interwoven with anecdotes of the city with the story of Akeli, a fictional story. The performance is a never ending project. It grows with people’s stories and fantasies. We invite you to a theatre workshop to re-narrate fears, aspirations, and memories experienced in your life in the city through short improvisations and street performances around Cubbon Park.

To register mail pallavichander [at] gmail [dot] com or call 98869-28582

Bangalore Talkies | Video Art and Music |30 Oct | Jaaga, Double Road | 6 pm onwards

When you live in a city, your encounters with roads, friends, and strangers are all in pieces of images and sounds. What can you interpret of a city that you experience everyday in pieces? Bangalore Talkies a forum to see Bangalore through different eyes, through different lenses. How do YOU connect to Bangalore -  bus rides/auto rides, pubs, darshinis, your neighborhood, street dogs, trees, the weather, street food,  construction and deconstruction – it could be about any creature, thing, space or feeling in the city. Collect your stories on anything that can shoot image and record sound. All videos must play on VLC and should not be longer than 5 mins. Submit your entries on DVD OR mail it, upload it and send us a link on ekta [at] maraa [dot] in by tomorrow latest. Your stories will be screened for the public at the Bangalore Talkies at Jaaga, Double Road, on 30th October, 6:30 pm onwards. Remember it’s about the story, not so much about making a perfect film. This will be followed by a music jam between independent musicians in Bangalore. If you are a musician and want to play, get in touch with us today!

To register mail ekta [at] maraa [dot] in or call 96328-31275 before 29th October

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

Nomads: From Empty Spaces Emerge Dreams – And Possibilities

Click to view slideshow.Gallery Photos by Karina YanezTo control slideshow speed,  place your cursor over  the slide and  press the  pause/start button.

As part of the Trailer Trash Project,  Sam will be working with the Nomad Lab Art Project, a program for at-risk children aged 6-14.  and their parents from the Valle Del Oro Neighborhood in Santa Clarita, CA.  The program currently offers art classes or labs) in writing, photography, guitar and public art.  Computer and cooking classes are available for parents.   It is run under the voluntary direction of Evelyn Serrano who also teaches a class on art and activism at CalArts.

The classes focus on the meaning of home – a theme Serrano has previously explored in her work as an artist and curator.  Coincidentally, it is also the theme that Sam is focusing on in his Trailer Trash project. On November 6th, Sam brought the Spartan to the Nomads, asking for their help figuring out what makes a house (or a tin can) a home.

The following article describes how the NOMAD LAB Art Project got started.  Over time, Sam’s Spartan Revival will keep you posted on the design ideas the Nomads come up with for the trailer.

They gather in empty spaces to turn dreams into art.  And as they draw and write,  they are planting the seeds of a peaceful community.

Meet The Nomads, children aged 6-14, who gather Wednesday and Saturday mornings at The Village Apartment Complex in Santa Clarita’s Valle del Oro (VDO) Neighborhood.  Here they have time to slow down, to get to know and trust each other.

The NOMAD LAB Art Project offers labs (or classes) in photography, public art, story telling and guitar. At the same time, their parents can participate in cooking and computer labs.   But art is just a starting point. It provides opportunities for neighbors in Santa Clarita’s troubled Valle del Oro Neighborhood to come together to explore what they like and what they want to change in their community.

“If we are successful, the kids and their parents will get to know each other,” says artist and NOMAD LAB organizer, Evelyn Serrano. “They will learn to be tolerant and respectful of each other.”

The program started off modestly enough last year with 30 children and Serrano as their  teacher.  Since then attendance has doubled to 60 kids and their parents, with five teachers, some from Serrano’s class at California Institute for the Arts.  Classes are free and everyone works on a volunteer basis.

“It’s a great program,” said Cynthia Llerenas, Community Services Supervisor for the City of Santa Clarita.  “I would like to see it modeled in different locations.”

Llernas, who also head’s the City of Santa Clarita’s Anti-Gang Task Force,  was an important force in helping Serrano get the program up and running.  Two years ago she was attending meetings with the Valle del Oro Neighborhood Committee to address problems of crime and racial tensions in their community.  Neighbors were feeling unsafe and they were their fingers at the young people.

Serrano, who was living in the Valle del Oro Neighborhood at the time, was aware that youngsters were joining gangs in the 5th and 6th grade.   As an artist and teacher committed to community art,  she agreed to run a program for at-risk youth in the neighborhood.

“Having worked with kids, I knew we shouldn’t place all the blame on them.” she explained. “The truth was more complex. There were no after-school or weekend programs in that area of town.  We needed to provide positive alternatives to gangs. And the voices of young people needed to be part of the solution.”

She went in search of a venue for classes, approaching the local elementary school and a youth organization. All requests were denied until she got a green light the management company at The Village – an apartment complex where much of the trouble was taking place.  Classes could meet in a vacant apartment until it was rented out and they would have to move into another one that was vacant.   The changing venues inspired the name, The Nomads.

“It’s like we are a gang,” explained Serrano. “But what we offer is another way of being together.  A lot of our kids see violence in their homes.  Art is the starting point for them to learn how to be together respectfully, to learn to collaborate successfully when we work.”

Nomads who participate in the writing, photography and music labs sit on the floor or in folding chairs. The minimalist, temporary nature of the venue creates a setting that seems conducive to creative output.

The public arts lab, taught by Serrano, takes place outside in the apartment courtyard. They are encouraged to closely observe their community and think about what they like about it and what they would like to change.

(See photo gallery of the public art lab: The Art of Observation.)

“I want the labs to be a special opportunity for the kids to re-engage with their neighborhood.  I want them to re-consider what it takes to make their home and community safe, healthy and sustainable,” Serrano explained.

Cynthia LLerenas is pleased with how all the pieces of this program are falling into place, and she wishes similar opportunities were open to other young people.   “If we had recreational opportunities for kids in every apartment complex it would eliminate 95% of our problems,” she says.

Her experience working 17 years as a prevention specialist has taught her a thing or two. “Kids don’t want to be involved with gangs, but they get sucked in, partly because there aren’t other viable alternatives, partly because the parents have lost control at home.  But there are no easy fixes.  A program like the NOMAD LAB requires on-going commitment from organizers, teachers and parents:  “You have to be passionate and you have to have a vision.”

“These kids are finding their niche,” she says.  ”Some of them come from a background where they have no self-esteem.  Now they are raising their hands in class and trying out for sports.  It’s all about building confidence.”

A big part of her job is to help parents and youth to learn how to access resources that will help them keep their neighborhoods safe.   In meetings that take place after the labs, parents learn how to access social and legal services as well as employment opportunities.   For communities to be sustainable, so it is important the talents and resources of people who live in the neighborhood must also be utilized.

Serrano says the mothers are in the cooking lab are “incredibly bright and resourceful.” Their energy and organizing talents help make the whole project run smoothly. It’s not just the moms.  When Nomad dad Jose Chunga  proposed labs for parents, he volunteered  himself to teach a computer class which has become a success.

Serrano says the NOMAD LAB Art Project is all about breaking down walls of fear and insecurity between neighbors.   “It’s hard for people to invest in their community when they are afraid of each other.  We are trying to create a safe context for people to interact and see each other as people who are very rich in resources.”

As for the kids, Serrano hopes that the observation skills she is teaching them as artists will carry over to change the things they don’t like about their community.   “I want them to learn to be critical observers in a positive way.  I would like them to ask themselves: ‘What is my say? Even though I am young, I have a lot of power.’”

“If we do anything right at least we can give them models and other alternatives about what a home can be.  We can encourage them to become dreamers.  And their dreams can influence their lives and the lives of other people.”


The NOMAD LAB Art Project is a collaborative effort between the Valle Del Oro Neighborhood Association, the City of Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles County Human Rights Commission and The Village Apartments.

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

Declining newspapers: arts moving into empty spaces


Artists love disused space. Artists And Makers have been tweeting me about the Empty Shops Conference they’re running on October 19. Meanwhile here’s another example of a street artists moving into a disused property. The collapse of the newspaper market in the US has been even more precipitous than it has been here in the UK. Print ad sales fell by a horrendous 30% in the first quarter of 2009; titles have been disappearing at an alarming speed.  The newspaper is a strange but crucial part of the social glue in the US, a country where there is no such thing as a “national” newspaper outside of USA Today. Americans are losing a major part of the way in which they tell their stories.

Out of decline comes opportunity. Here’s an example of one street artist Bumblebee, who has been opportunistically taking over empty newsboxes on the streets of Los Angeles, to create a series of narrative tableaux, linking the declines of newspapers to that of another endangered species.

The art, it has to be said, is pretty grim. Nice idea, though…

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology