We Can Xalant. a77 (Gustavo Diéguez / Lucas Gilardi ) + Pau Faus
Concept: a77 (Gustavo Diéguez & Lucas Gilardi)
Project and construction: a77 + Pau Faus
Organised and produced by: Trànsit (I+D+i) / Can Xalant. Centre de Creació i Pensament Contemporani de Mataró.
Project developed within the context of : Disonancias Activa (Catalonia).
Laboratory of Nomadic architecture and self-construction.
Participants: Roser Caminal, Àngel Escalera, Mauro Giovannini, Oriol Gran, Mercè Jara Muns, Mariana López, Ester G. Mecías, Joan Navarro, Cèlia Prats, Ivan Riba, Xavier Rodríguez, Meritxell Romanos, Raül Roncero, Bernat Sancho, Sandra Sàrrias, Patricia Ward, Marta Xibillé.
Photography: Susana Muns, Pau Faus, Àngel Escalera, Domènec.
Mataró, Barcelona. 2009
We Can Xalant. Mobile constructions for ephemeral actions in public places
Can Xalant, Centre of Contemporary Creation and Thought in Mataró, is a centre of residence, experimentation and art production in Catalonia whose work is characterised by such aims as being a critical observer of local art, blending different art styles and building networks with institutions from other places in the world.
In 2006 Can Xalant invited Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata to build one of his renowned constructions, this one known as Xiringuito Mataró, in its gardens. The artefact shortly became closely identified with the place and achieved the status of an institutional icon.
Following a blaze which unfortunately destroyed the emblematic installation in mid 2008, Can Xalant commissioned a77 to build a new structure to occupy the area, normally reserved for staging many events and where the Open Doors –Efímer Club– meeting is held, which takes place in July every year to mark the end of the season, as well as other multimedia and musical shows.
a77’s answer to this commission not only aimed to reshape the structure of Can Xalant’s courtyard but also to provide auxiliary mobile units, initially related to some of their earlier works regarding the production of Nomadic and ephemeral installations which are sometimes taken out of the exhibition areas and used in public places, removing the art projects and social cultural initiatives from Can Xalant and bringing them closer to a public who would not usually come into contact with this kind of event. Leaving Can Xalant to visit public places would thus add a new complement to the concept of Open Doors.
Trànsit Projectes’ area of R&D+i considered the possibility of extending the experiment by including this project in the Activa Disonancias programme in Catalonia in its first season in 2009, and invited Pau Faus to take part following an open international competitive selection process. The aim was to take advantage of the opportunity to explore new ways of analysis and local intervention, proactive collaborations, new thoughts on mobile, flexible architectural structures for cultural uses, and new approaches and thoughts to the way things are usually done.
The a77 team then worked in collaboration with Pau Faus, a Catalan architect who is a member of the Osservatorio Nomade Group in Barcelona and author of the recently published book “La Ciudad Jubilada”, which describes the informal vegetable gardens on the floodplains of the rivers around Barcelona.
The construction in this project is regarded as being an exercise of social awareness and has been interpreted as a task with multiple facets since it lead not only to the specific material project but to define a social network both in the work of producing an artefact and in everything related to its future uses. That is why we defined a profile of uses for the town of Mataró such as a series of programmes related to childhood and children as the final aim. The Salonnières artists group developed a three-week workshop with children from the Centre Obert, located in the same neighbourhood, to discover and imagine with them the possible uses of the objects to be built.
In order to achieve such an objective, an intensive communications process was undertaken, to achieve interaction among those taking part in it who, furthermore, have close ties with the place where the construction was carried out. A blog was also set up as a communications tool and is an ongoing collective work platform (www.wecanxalant.blogspot.com).
We Can Xalant is a hypothesis on the dimensions of visibility.
It involves showing a myriad of resources and persons who form part of one and the same environment with the suspicion that their nearness conceals forms among relationships, underlying affinities and objective implications.
The work was developed and based on three approaches:
1-The material approach was based on recovering material from Tadashi Kawamata’s burnt down installation, collecting and recovering waste materials from recycling depots as the cheapest possible procedure closest to the work place. Support was obtained from the company which manages the city’s waste to provide building material. We also contacted nearby campsites to obtain caravans which were no longer used. We then organised a Laboratory of Nomadic Architecture and Self-Construction. For one week we carried out the collective construction of a system which finally consisted of putting the structure in place and getting the two caravans ready: one for part of the structure built on a higher level as a multi-purpose room for Can Xalant with a view over the Mediterranean and another mobile module for art and social activities in public places. The ramp used to raise the caravan to the higher level was then turned into a sloped garden once its original mission came to an end.
2-The social approach was based on the identification, evaluation of efforts and modus operandi of close and immediate participants which led to building up a network of individuals and groups, defining and setting up the action programmes.
Subsequent meetings with the Neighbours’ Association also enabled them to take part in the activities of the Nomade module called CX-R, finally inaugurated in a public place and held as a collective event where the neighbours provided some of their usual cultural activities mixing them with works by the resident artists at Can Xalant. On the following day the whole system was inaugurated in the garden at Can Xalant as the stage of the annual concert organised by the Efímer Club with groups from several countries.
3-In between the above is the time approach: an attempt to collectively build time. An ephemeral strategy or policy of the moment. The programme of activities was fuelled by suggestions from several artists for future actions. Several art and social projects have already confirmed they will use CX-R.
The usual conception of an institution shapes, models and establishes identities. The establishment, the habitation or creation of habits amounts to a time statute. But how long can we bear the ephemeral?