Nov. 2022
Ruta Xarxaprod 5/5
by Graf

A Certain Lack of Coherence


There are many topics to tackle, that may concern various XarxaProd projects, but we have chosen 4, and we have called upon 4 people who we trust that by bringing them into their own terrain, would manage to sharpen their point sufficiently. Because if a text isn’t prickly, if it’s no good at making those we produce and consume jump out of their chair, then why shed light on it. For if we produce, coordinate, manage in this fluid field of contemporary practices, it is in order to constantly rethink the way we do things and to move away from complacency. To imagine a restless, vibrant context. To forever erase those sayings we have all heard a thousand times: «this is the way things have been done for a long time», «this is how it has always been done», «there is a protocol in place that we mustn’t disrupt».

Everyday at GRAF, we meet and cross paths with cultural agents that are devoted to and concerned with the additional task of rethinking the work they develop on a regular basis. Considering themselves in relation to others. These 4 pivotal themes arise from each of these multiple conversations, from discussions with the people we have invited to write (both those who could participate and those who could not), with Xarxaprod’s community and also within the core of GRAF. Perhaps you will identify with some of the phrases or ideas in this text. Thank you for openly sharing your experience contemplatively with us. The result is not so much 4 themes but the collection of these countless issues that are grouped and unfold many possible texts addressed to anyone who may wish to come along, to the community itself, but above all towards the spaces themselves, as a tool for contemplation, for reflection within these lines.

Some of the questions, in summarised form, would be:

– Are production spaces set in a rural context ideal to explore contemporary issues? What might they be?

– What does offering an artistic residency imply? What purpose do they serve, what are their different forms and what features may define them? What red lines might we draw?

– How is it possible to reconcile contemporary practice with creating audiences or a work of proximity with its context? Could we talk about social retribution? Should production spaces be expected to meet this objective?

– A production space is essentially committed to accompanying or facilitating resources and tools for artistic creation in its different phases, disciplines or modalities. How is this purpose reconciled with the idea, need and/or obligation to generate events? Temporality and overproduction.

Finally, this text is envisaged not so much as a summary or a conclusion, but rather that, between the lines, a fifth theme has emerged: if the context of contemporary artistic practices, their fabric, is sustained by life and its mutability, what is the point of labelling and imposing definitions? And why not consider that each of the projects and spaces belonging to Xarxaprod (and others that do not) emerge and evolve in their own geographical, political and social enclave, with their own needs and idiosyncrasies.

After writing the texts, the conceptual exercise regarding the spaces was simple; distributing and connecting each ” theme” to a series of Xarxaprod spaces on a map, that could well have been combined in many other ways and from which different routes would have arisen. But the very union makes new nodes of thinking explicit in a reactive way.

The existence of a network such as XarxaProd, that brings together a series of projects of different natures, scales, scopes and ambitions, colours and complexities… is not supposed to standardize them but to make each one, with all its singularities, become a specialist. Because not all spaces must necessarily have a residency or workspaces or host artists and curators, collectives and cultural and/or business projects… they don’t all have to have open calls with 20 categories for each single predefined discipline.

Maybe there was a dining room in artist’s family home that was used as a work space for another artist, who stayed in the same place for a month, and that acted as a meeting place for local artists to exchange and, after that period, the same place was transformed into a presentation space -usually for performances- attended by many people including, funnily enough, a group of ladies from the local neighbourhood who met on Thursdays to see exhibitions and who never missed a single one.

Maybe there was a mouldy garage, halfway down the river on an industrial estate, an hour away from any major town centre, that a loose group of people with certain cultural and artistic concerns decided to rent cheaply and was used for many different purposes, namely a film club, rehearsal studio and concert venue, that after a while many of these people gradually became distanced from the space, except two of them, that began to ask for funding until it became a cultural centre for that small community where all kinds of people go whenever they don’t know what to do.

There might also have been a heavenly place to retire for a brief period of time complete with all the mod cons and solitude at a modest price. Of course, there are red lines. There cannot be a total abandonment where nobody explains the conditions of the residency and you have to find everything out for yourself. It is unacceptable for no previous thought to be given as to the needs of someone that will be using a space that, due to either geography or culture, is not their usual habitat. It is unacceptable for a space to require so many procedures that this prevents you from being able to work on the proposal you were invited to carry out. It is unacceptable for an artist to finance a structure with their payment of “rent for the space” even though there may be artists that can afford it. So, and here I contradict myself, you cannot call a business a production centre. These are some possible examples of many types of practices with better intentions and others with poorer empathic skills.

Uma Certa Falta de Coerência (A Certain Lack of Coherence) could be and is a space in Porto, run by André Sousa and Mauro Cerqueira, that lacks the customary conditions of whiteness of a gallery but offers other timeframes, other companies, other relationships, and an intrinsic, first-hand understanding of what it is to make art. Although some are aware, it is often forgotten that making art is a complex, very hard, and fragile process, that needs the right frameworks to be able to develop. We borrowed their name for our title, as a slogan to give value to genuineness, instead of continuing to standardize.

Text by GRAF.

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 by Victoria Macarte