And Saturday arrived: the big day at Swatch Cities, Madrid

October 28, 2018

Doors opened earlier this Saturday to make the most of the last day at the Impact Hub. The smell of fresh coffee and cake made by our friends at Toma Café wafted throughout the room. Two workshops began at 12:30. One was given by the illustrator José A. Roda, who taught 10 lucky participants how to make self-portraits with the papercutting technique. There was a long line of people who wanted to snag one of the few available places in this workshop. “What I’ve enjoyed most about the experience has been to see how, starting from my work, each attendee has generated a very personal vision in their piece,” says Roda.



The other morning workshop was led by creative native artists Clara Cebrián and Gema Polanco, who, together with 14 participants, designed two Maxi Swatches each. Maxi Swatches, for those of you who don’t know, are large-scale wall Swatches that are presented as blank canvases. On these canvases, the artists made collages using photographs from Polanco’s family archive. The photos were given a twist with a pop motif that was painted using colorful markers and featured the signature silhouettes of Cebrián’s artistic style.


While all this was happening, the final touches were being added to the last of the Art Shows presented in the framework of the festival. The installation, which could be visited from 4 pm on, is called Kilometer 0 and it establishes a dialogue between the center and the outskirts of the city. The team, led by artist Leonor Serrano and made up of product designer Laura Corradi, artist and researcher Julia García and architect Arturo Garrido, identified different symbols of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and reinterpreted them with elements found in peripheral neighborhoods of the city, from the Ensanche de Vallecas to the Cobo Calleja industrial estate.



“We have taken Kilometer 0 as the physical and symbolic reference of the place from where all those hierarchies that exist within the city in terms of territory are built. From there starts an entire installation in which the scenography of the Puerta del Sol is reconstructed, but with images that are actually ‘contaminated’ and built from the periphery,” explains García. Their idea was to create a series of drifts, visiting areas far from the center, and collect different materials in them with which this iconography was later reconstructed.



Thus, for example, the representation of the famous statue of the Oso y el Madroño was embellished with strips taken from cloth and plastic bags found at the Cobo Calleja industrial estate; the sign of Tío Pepe was invaded by a mat and stubs of lost bets, an allusion to the striking proliferation of betting houses in the city’s outskirts; and the entrance to the metro station was extended by dry thistles found in the plots of Vallecas post-real estate crisis. “Also underlying this approach is the need to vindicate life in the neighborhoods in the outskirts, where a large part of the dynamics that create the essence of the city really happen,” reflects Corradi.


All these elements were completed with a video projected on the wall through the clock of the Puerta del Sol, the best known clock in Spain. The video documented the actions of collecting materials that had preceded the reinterpretation of the iconography. There were also three performers who held mirrors and spotlights and acted on the pieces so that the public could see them in different ways. The group conceived a photo booth as one more piece within the installation: “It is inspired by the festivals of the Barrio del Pilar and the concept of identity articulated through popular celebrations. The public can listen to popular songs and play with strips of LED lights (reminiscent of the illumination of the attractions) while taking selfies,” they explain.



Meanwhile, the sections dedicated to talks by emerging creators enjoyed constant attendance that exceeded the room’s capacity. The Creative Natives Tribune ended with two interventions that invite creators – emerging and established – to dream big. The inspiring art interventions were those of architect and curator Niko Barrena and architect, designer and DJ Juanito Jones. Along with other talented colleagues, both explained their local and international works and showed great optimism and a sense of humor.



These two characteristics were also shared by architect Enrique Espinosa and multidisciplinary artist Miguel Moreno Mateos, the last two artists who shared experiences with young creatives in the Creative Survival Toolkit. “I’m not sure how I got here. What I do know is that when you finally take the path you are supposed to be on, an energy is generated around you that makes everything take shape in a natural way,” said Mateos.


The afternoon continued with the lettering workshop given at 7 pm by the Vasito de Leche studio, which had previously customized Swatch paper bags that landed in the hands of some lucky customers. Vasito de Leche combined forces with attendees to co-create two Maxi Swatches. And finally, it all ended with a magnificent party at Mow’s acoustic concert.



The exoticism, depth and charming shyness of Madrid-born Gabriela Casero and her stage partner Brenda Sayuri created an intimate atmosphere for the final concert at the Impact Hub. The echoes of six days of intense artistic activity blended perfectly with Mow’s music. The creative program preceding the concert was ambitious, but the connection with the public surpassed all expectations. If one thing has been learned this week, it’s that the new generation of Madrid’s creators is here, and creativity is pumping in their veins! Go follow them and see what they accomplish next.