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Transducers: Collective Pedagogies and Spatial Politics

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Workshop by Transductores       Pedagogí­as colectivas y polí­ticas espaciales

Seminar and workshop by Transductores       Pedagogí­as colectivas y polí­ticas espaciales

Seminar and workshop by Transductores       Pedagogí­as colectivas y polí­ticas espaciales

Local project by Transductores       Pedagogí­as colectivas y polí­ticas espaciales

Local project by Transductores       Pedagogí­as colectivas y polí­ticas espaciales
Centro José Guerrero,
Dec 01, 2009 - Feb 01, 2010
Granada, Spain

Transducers: Collective Pedagogies and Spatial Politics
by Javier Rodrigo

As the researchers and coordinators of the project, one of the greatest challenges we faced was to pinpoint and effectively archive a set of practices that would not merely be made visible on the basis of art’s capacity for social and political transformation. Instead, one of our principal aims was to understand them as work-networks with their own collaboration policies, as complex networks and forms of relating that could dovetail with a more organic point of view when we sought to grasp these initiatives. That way of approaching the groups involved various research perspectives that I would now like to explain:

- First, within the framework of the groups and initiatives selected, the field of art, its political bent or its working structures were not as important as the network relations within their contexts. We therefore had a wide range of experiences, such as the Ecobox project’s transcultural, self-managed, urban vegetable garden, which turned into an experimental cultural center (Atelier d’Architecture Autogerée, also known as aaa) (7); the radical transformation of classrooms following participative designs with the school community (School Classroom Design project of the Austrian collective WochenKlausur) (8) or the research, art, activist and educational platforms in Chicago that jelled into collaborative publishing processes and various actions aimed at shaping a collective pedagogy around the city (the AREA collective (9). We referred to all the proposals we investigated as case studies (10) rather than paradigms or programming guidelines, as if they were a decalogue of do’s and don’ts. The idea was to differentiate these cases as radically contextual practices that could, based on their paradoxes and complexities, offer us in situ working models functioning as tentative guides and possible directions to follow. This approach was implemented in the form of a publication, accessible online (11), in which each group/collective was interviewed in order to produce a series of file cards providing in-depth information on their projects and initiatives. These file cards therefore accomplished the aim of delving into and studying the content of each case through various work components. With these descriptions we sought to gain an idea of their political-pedagogical aptitudes rather than a merely background or justificatory description of the groups or collectives. The work components of the interviews were thus structured as follows: Project origin and development; Relationship with the context and collaborators; Methodology; Links, networks and forms of dissemination; References and learning processes, and Challenges and difficulties.

- Secondly, we were very interested in grasping how the projects grew, led to the creation of various networks and multiple collaborations, and even went beyond the limits or disciplinary categories under which art projects are pigeonholed or described. In practical terms, this activity implied working with various institutions and very disparate collaborators: by way of an example, we can point to PLATFORM (12) and its Delta project, along with Tides and Tributes, in which participative research groups are designing a micro-turbine in tandem with a primary school and various activist and ecological groups in the area. Another example is the Center for Urban Pedagogy, (13) a non-profit organization that collaborated with an alternative school in New York called City-as-School in the project Garbage Problems. Even the aforementioned aaa itself incorporated urbanists, neighbors, activists, families, informal groups and students into a complex, motley group of individuals and organizational methods. Following this perspective, we sought to analyze these projects as monster institutions, as Aida Sanchez de Serdio (2010), the author of one of texts in the publication, uses the term in her political analysis. The practices shown here did not negate the possibility of relating to and negotiating with other institutions. At the same time, these networks built up their own instituting practices, these being practices that give rise to other possible spaces for organizing and relating between subjectivities and groups, thereby instituting new relationship spaces and other ways of shaping policies.

- Thirdly, as a result of this focus on instituting practices, in our research work we were particularly interested in understanding the long-term sustainability of the projects, i.e., their ways of scattering and continuing within contexts using versatile and highly varied structures (neighbourhood associations, NGOs, independent groups, research projects, artists’ collectives, cooperatives, educational projects, etc.). Thus we also focused on the different networks or relations that they were forming over time and that were expected to have a qualitative impact on the contexts in which they acted. To that end we built up a series of sociograms for each initiative or project. Sociograms (13) are diagrams that chart the relationships of social players in given situations. In our case we made a sociogram of each proposal to both identify the collaborations and relations between the various institutions and groups, and also follow their results and developments, i.e., their scattering and sustainability (14). An example of a project’s sustainability is the Docklands Community Poster Project (DCPP) (16), the final phase of which was a 6-member cooperative working on a political-design campaign for activist groups, unions and local city councils committed to the docklands struggle in London’s East End. This struggle took the form of ten years of dialogues between the different platforms, an initiatives committee and the DCPP itself, leading to other projects in that context and mass-scale activist protests. We can also look to aaa again in ECObox, which continued its activity for almost five years as an experimental space for artists, neighbours, activists, informal groups, etc., working in mobile architecture, rururbanism and self-education. This poly-dimensionality involved extensive online work that subsequently led to the emergence of new urban vegetable-garden projects (ECObox #2, and #3) managed by other collectives, with aaa centering on the development of European research-action projects (17) and new initiatives for sustainable urban economies (18). Moreover, the work of PLATFORM in terms of creating a scattering effect is exemplary in that it gave rise to RENUE, an office for the design of eco-schools and green buildings through ecological activism at the state level, and subsequently to Carbon Descent, a state initiative favouring fair, local trade and consumption in the United Kingdom. The Tower Songs project (19) based in Ireland is also worth mentioning. The project is now entering a second 5-year phase, thanks to support by Fatima Groups United and CityArts through a cultural contract. To date, among other things it has fostered the launching of pedagogical work on community art conducted by the research project Vagabound Reviews. As a last example, the Ala Plástica collective (20) has not only based its work in the La Plata basin, but is also broadening its sphere of action as an online advisory group through activist and bioregional policies in the Iniciativa SIG- Rizoma- Construcción, which seeks to revisit the work zones of the bioregion made up of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay with various organizations in order to propose other forms of sustainable economies.

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