Marcos Garcia, Medialab Prado
We are living a new digital disorder. Most categories have become useless: sciences/humanities, public/private, professional/amateur, producer/consumer, work/leisure, local/cosmopolitan, expert/”ignorant”.
New ways of organizing knowledge, new frames of actuation. New ways of thinking about culture as a lab for experimentation.
New actors: there has been a revolution on who can create or who can decide what is on the cultural agenda. Culture has become a read/write culture.
New ways of culture and new actors necessarily leads to new formats: barcamps, unconferences, hackatons, living labs… all of them happening in the open and where drafts are no more something to be hidden until it is finished, but something that is quickly released.
Other issues: replicability, new mediators, new ways of participation, the raising of the local factor, etc.
Labs become mainstream in social innovation: places where exhibition and creation happen at the same time. There is a constant dialogue between the creator and the visitor, that can be informed through exhibitions and end up participating in the ongoing projects. Labs: infrastructures + communities + methodologies. Communities are build around creation, the creation of prototypes following a methodology and with the help of some given infrastructures.
Open questions: how resources are distributed, the sustainability of cultural initiatives and spaces, how is people to be paid (if they have to), can citizen empowerment end up dismantling public services.
Public infrastructures have to build public goods, have to contribute to the public domain. Public infrastructures have to be a support, but also have to accept criticism, as cultural creation in based on conflict.
It should be possible that institutions and cultural creation can cooperate, be analysed critically, agree, partner strategically, etc.
In many senses, cultural creation has been a mirage that happened in a cultural desert and that has ended in the cultural desert that it was. Despite this, people in cities (like Seville, in the case of Zemos98) have started to self-organize around cultural creation.
A community around a project is crucial, not only for creation, but for (1) being able to distribute what is being created and let it be known and (2) in order to be able to pay the artist/creator for their work.
What are the limits of thinking by creating? Doubtlessly, research has to be open, shared.
One of the risks of cultural creation is the self-imposed need to reinvent oneself continuously. This leads to short-term thinking and not deepening into the issues that are being researched. We should reflect about the life of projects and let them last as long as they require. Maybe it is not a bad idea to, while keeping the idea of the lab (thinking by doing) also sometimes separating both scenarios: the creative part from the reflective or thinking part.
Nico Sguiglia, La Casa Invisible
Civic centres or social centres have traditionally had a very important role in community building, in reflecting about what is happening in the territory, how to improve it or how to fix what is broken.
At the end of the XXth century there is a redefinition of the social centre, moving from the “okupa”, punk, underground aesthetics to a more up-to-date discourse around the new actors and profiles of the community. This new discourse is then based in community building based on public infrastructures, in self-organization and self-management.
The Spanish Indignados or 15M movement heavily relied on these self-organized and self-managed spaces and communities and, reciprocally, these spaces and communities gained a lot of momentum thanks to social movements.
There is a big difficulty, though, in how to integrate different subjectivities. We like to think on the citizen management centres as bio-unions, as new kind of unions, unions of living projects.
It is important that criticism, cultural creation goes from the margins (of society) to its core, trying that the discourse becomes mainstream or reaches the mainstream agenda. Working on creating cultural conflict but also working on reaching citizen consensus. This consensus means that the civic centre has to speak many “languages”, many cultural registries so that no-one is excluded.
The civic centre also contributes to entrepreneurship by creating cooperatives, so that the centre is sustainable and its community can also have a worthy job.
Creation of the Fundación de los Comunes, which gathers several civic initiatives such as El Patio Maravillas, La Pantera Rossa, la Universidad Nómada, l’Ateneu Candela, X.net, Traficantes de Sueños, La Invisible, La Tabacalera de Lavapiés or La Hormiga Atómica.
Q: is there any relationship between civic centres and traditional labour unions? Is there a possibility for a new kind of union? Spuiglia: there have been several initiatives of nomad unions, flexible unions, etc. The problem is that, still, these are organizations that have different languages and the meeting points are still difficult to reach.
Q: if the commons or public goods are no more provided by the state, what do we need the state for? Freire: public goods and the commons are different things, sometimes even opposed. Indeed, the commons belong to the private sphere, that is, not the public sphere. García: we should both try to recover a policy for the commons and recover what the state provided as public goods and services.