Nov. 2022
Ruta Xarxaprod 2/5
by Helen Torres

Exercise in speculative fabulation #Portbou, 2022



Subject: La Almáciga


Dear Maria,
Though these are still notes, I’m sharing them with you so that you can take a look and see.
Now that the agreement between the hotel and the Walter Benjamin House seems like it’s finally going ahead, we can launch the first open call soon. Fingers crossed!

Look forward to hearing your comments,
Sending hugs,

ATTACHED FILE: almáciga.odt


La Almáciga gestation residencies project

The La almáciga gestation residencies are proposed as a seedbed for ideas, practices, knowledge and collective processes, in collaboration with the Walter Benjamin House in Portbou.

Etymologically, to gestate means to carry in the womb, to think, to develop a plan. In order to gestate, we need seeds, care, shared knowledge, community – «a ruminant temporality» (Massón).

The La Almáciga project is committed to rooted political art, in alliance with scientific thinking and politics that are in symbiosis with the place. By place we don’t just mean territory, in so far as an «area controlled by a certain kind of power» (Foucault), or landscape as the «countryside considered as a spectacle», (Moliner), but also habitat as, «making one’s own mark» (Lefevbre), «relational structure» (Heidegger), a phenomenon with a spirit of its own – a holobiome.

We believe that there are privileged places from which to deal with certain themes, but not necessarily following the rural vs. urban and nature vs. culture dichotomies. The rural as the exclusive space of all that is natural, authentic, traditional, original, of popular knowledge, as opposed to the urban as all that is artificial, as a symbol of modernity and progress, is a comparison that is not just insufficient to comprehend emerging nature-cultures, but that also substantiates false notions. For example, returning to rural life as a return to nature, to healthy living, to good community life.

But there is no such thing as a culture-free space. The rural is also polluted; crops are a form of technology, as are tractors. Are urban allotments more artificial than rural ones? What matters for the continuity of life is what is grown, how, who by and who for. The question is who eats who, and how.

We believe that a community art, allied with science and politics, focused on generating copies with no originals, can help to diminish this gap between our beliefs and reality, acting as a trigger for a less anthropocentric and a more ecocentric consciousness.

Our intention is to cultivate the alliance between activisms, arts and sciences in order to contribute to what Anna Tsing calls the arts of living on a damaged planet. Only in coexistence, facing the problems of survival through knowledge and constant negotiation, can we think of situated knowledge capable of generating politics of justice across all species.

We do not reject art as an individual action, but rather propose nurturing approaches to creating that are attuned to the symbiotic processes specific to each place. Art focused on empathy has the capacity to transform the artist-subject, but not so much the place where it was generated. For this reason, we draw on the community as a cultural and artistic agent and operator, capable of driving changes in an ecocentric direction. To do so, we offer a network of alliances between various local inhabitants that serve as a guide, inspiration and critical agents for the prototypes to be gestated in each of the residencies.



We envisage these gestational residencies as collective processes embodied by people and groups from various walks of social, cultural, political and scientific life.

Groups of between 8 and 10 people will be formed, selected through the resolution of each open call, who will work together for one month with advice and support from a network of local agents.

Over this period of coexistence, we will generate prototypes intended to contribute to solving some of the problems specific to the place based on three central themes: 1) the border; 2) habitats; 3) heritage.

These prototypes will have a viral capacity to expand to other places, adapting new forms according to specific needs, working like seed bombs.


Core Themes

Specific themes: the border (geographical, cultural, linguistic, economic, legal and symbolic; bodies as territory; marked bodies; xenophobia; paths of exile yesterday and today; historical memory); hunting (overpopulation of herbivores; animal abuse; introduction of the wolf; pollution of ecosystems; socio-cultural balance); war (as a reality and as metaphor).

Transversal themes: #homeostasis #symbiosis #symbiogenesis #transition #footprints #mutual support #community #justice and multispecies narratives #hospitality/guest/hostis/hostage #proximity #memory #continuity



    • Days 1-15: each participant/group will offer and participate in workshops, walks, readings, and meals. Aims: to get to know each other and the place together with the local network of associations and inhabitants in order to share knowledge and define objectives.
    • Days 16-26: translation of the process into one or several prototypes with viral possibilities that can take on multiple forms and functions. First presentation to the network.
    • Days 26-30: Reworking of the prototypes. Second presentation. Adjustments. Public presentation.
    • Reconvening after three months (for 3-5 days): follow-up on the prototypes’ viral progress. Public presentation.



      • You can apply as an individual or in a group. You do not have to be an artist.
      • Specify what skills and knowledge you offer, in what area, and what methodologies you intend to use to share them with. All expertise is welcome.
      • The application procedure is open all year round, organised in 4 terms of residencies.
      • The core themes of each residency will be specified on the basis of eventuality, conversation and material possibilities.
      • Each residency will include practitioners with skills and knowledge in science, arts and politics.


Text by Helen Torres in collaboration with GRAF. Helen Torres is a sociologist, translator and educator.

This November took place the open days of the Xarxa d’Espais de Producció i Creació de Catalunya (Xarxaprod), during which various member organisations opened their doors, organising activities to make their spaces and contexts known. From GRAF we join in with the production of five GRAF Routes, which on this occasion take the form of reflective texts that focus on different themes linked to the centres of the network, from the point of view of five agents from the arts and other fields: mafe moscoso (treballa en entorns entre escriptura, etnografia i art), Helen Torres (sociòloga, traductora i educadora), Bàrbara Sánchez Barroso (artista, feminista i amant dels llibres), Rita Andreu (comissària, gestora cultural i realitzadora audiovisual) i l’equip GRAF. In each Route we link one of the texts with a group of Xarxaprod spaces, suggesting affinities between them.

Translation of the text into English by Victoria Macarte