This summer I travelled to Spain and spend the month of July in a small rural village, Belalcázar that is located on the border of Andalusia and Extremadura. The purpose of my trip was to take part on an international residency program organized by La Fragua arts centre. The team at La Fragua is committed to the idea of developing arts in rural environments, and have facilitated multiple artistic projects co-operating with residents of Belalcázar. Also my proposed project involved community engagement in the form of performance workshops focussed on developing choreography from every-day movements.
View from our apartment’s balcony.
On arriving to Belalcázar I felt misplaced and welcomed at the same time. The landscape amazed me with its vast open fields and mountains in the horizon. The climate was expectedly hot – the region is known to have the hottest summers in the entire Europe – the temperature would easily climb up to 43 degrees at mid-day. Being there introduced me to the local rhythm: waking up at sunrise and working until 2pm, resting siesta for the hottest hours, then waking up again around 6pm and continuing the day till the sun sets around 9.30pm. After the workday people would continue their way to the plaza (central square) and meet up with friends for dinner.
La Fragua art centre itself is situated in the 15th century Monastery of Santa Clara – the studio spaces were beautiful and inspiring. Soon after settling in I got to notice that the new, extraordinary surroundings would influence my creative working methodology. I found the physical space and the daily rhythm to alter the way I began to understand movement (the central theme of the proposed workshops) and therefore I decided to research the areas by physically moving in it and by photographing it. As a photography student I couldn’t resist on starting a photographic project too. I created an art book of photographs that hope to represent the simultaneous disconnection and relationship between myself and the surrounding space, atmosphere and people.
Monastery of Santa Clara, La Fragua arts centre. The image on the bottom presents one of the balconies at the old convent. We used the balcony for the first one of our workshops. The image on the bottom shows the courtyard of the La Fragua art centre.
A spread from my photo book.
The workshops I organized in collaboration with one other artist were received well. It was encouraging to see people’s delightful responses to the exercises we had organized. The participants seemed to enjoy the free and unlimited moving as well as responding to sounds and creating movements themselves. I believe the workshops were an important way to engage with people and I am glad I got the opportunity to spend a month in the beautiful La Fragua amongst great artists and people of Belalcázar. I think the project I begun at there was an important step to take on my artistic path and I am sure the project will continue in the future too.
Two still images from the documentation videos we filmed during our second workshop.