Making culture from the periphery

Elvira Rilova- Acelerador de artistas

In January 2018 we were invited to participate as a Spanish Cultural Industry in the meeting for cultural internationalization organized by the EU through its Creative Europe program in the beautiful Italian city of Matera, the European Capital of Culture in 2019. In Matera I had the opportunity to meet a large number of artists and managers all disciplines from 9 countries in Europe. Many of these interesting projects were developed in peripheral cities, far from the big centers of power. I was especially struck by those projects related to the Visual Arts, which is my field of action. Although my platform is located in Madrid and we also operate in Mexico, one of our main projects is developed in a small provincial city.

I know how complicated it is to work with avant-garde Contemporary Art in a city that is not used to it: local artists are usually off national circuits, the few museums and institutions struggle to bring rented exhibitions from great contemporary artists, and only one self-managed cultural center bets on the work of emerging artists. Thai is why I created the Artist Book Fair of Castilla and León, an initiative that I have been running since 2015 and that aims to gather in the city of Burgos the most interesting panorama of the artist’s book and the edition. What always leads me to ask myself, How can local talent be involved? How can we convince the institutions of the city that our work is necessary to sow interest in art? How can we get the public to normalize and enjoy contemporary art?

In Matera I had the opportunity to meet a young curator and cultural manager, Giovanna Maroccolo, with whom I shared these concerns, as she develops a self-managed project in Padova, a small provincial town in northeastern Italy. Giovanna invited me to give a joint curatorial workshop in her space during the month of May, a proposal that I happily accepted because I was very interested in learning about the situation of cultural management in Italy in small cities.

Giovanna Maroccolo has managed to set up a multidisciplinary cultural center, managed with two other cultural associations dedicated to the field of performing arts, in a city with a great historical and artistic load and a large university environment, but that does not have a great movement in contemporary art. Giovanna has taken advantage of the proximity of the almighty Venice and in particular, one of the institutions that support young contemporary creation , the Massa Bevilacqua Foundation in order to create an alliance with its cultural center. Giovanna´s cultural Center, Neo, has become a satellite space of the exhibition that every year the Foundation dedicate to their young scholars. During my stay in Padua I was able to learn about the strategy followed by Neo, led by Giovanna Maroccolo, to become a satellite of the Massa Bevilacqua Foundation.

Thanks to the kind invitation of Neo I was able to meet a large group of artists from the Veneto Region, their concerns and aspirations. Giovanna Maroccolo offered me the opportunity to learn the reality of cultural management in Padova, which is very close to ours, and thanks to this new training program that she proposes, we have approached positions and created new lines of collaboration. In 2019 we want to carry out a joint curating project so that a group of young Italian creators can exhibit in Madrid and the same way back in Padova. We also have invited Giovanna Maraccolo to run a curatorship for the Artist Book Fair of Castilla and León. We want to show her our strategies to develop a cultural projects in a small city of the North of Spain. But is not only about work, ICCI made possible a great friendship that we will continue to celebrate in the future.

This was not the only collaboration that came up from the ICCI Meeting, I was invited to make a curatorship of videoart for the IV El Escorial Meeting of Videoart. Artists and collegues that I knew in Matera (Ole-Kristian Hayes, Coral Pereda, Brune Charvin and a selection of videos curated by Milan Vracar) are showing a selection of videos under my coordination.