DIDAC: Between creators and creatives | Babelia

In the current map of contemporary art in Galicia, where cultural policy is confused with the politicization of culture, a project like DIDAC It's like a raft of water. It has a public vocation although it is carried out independently of the public powers and the protection of an entity or institution of power. "A project made from cultural militancy," says its director, David Barro. This art critic and curator, former director of the Luis Seoane Foundation, of which he resigned in 2016 due to political interference, is a long distance runner and a race manager. Since he put his head behind the direction of the magazine Art and Party, At the turn of the century one of the references, has been chaining publishing projects until reaching Dardo, which he directed until 2014, and which today is the founding company of DIDAC.

The idea, as in Dardo, is to help to structure the Galician artistic and creative sector with the Iberian and Atlantic context, responding to their needs and avoiding the usual formalities of the concept of "institution". The one that Barro has in the head is more flexible than the one of a museum and more dynamic than the one of an art center and, although it rubs the epígrafe of alternative, DIDAC is rather an alternative to the alternative, or what is the same , an intermediate space, of those that so scarce in the Spanish territory.

DIDAC works as a satellite institution able to orbit around other institutions, reaching out to collaborations that allow strengthening an artistic context damaged by the crisis, above all, politics. One is the way to work and understand the scale, less megalomaniac and more real, able to connect with the public away from local micropowers. DIDAC has a 480-square-meter venue in Santiago de Compostela where a program of constant exhibitions takes place, although the program takes place in parallel in other spaces, the result of occasional collaborations and the opportunity to go outside the official circuits. Appleton in Lisbon is one of those places, one of the most active in the city and a kind of DIDAC delegation in Portugal. Until now Misha Bies Golas, Victor Mejuto, Ângela Ferreira, Alain Urrutia and Manuel Eirís have gone there, artists involved in painting, the subject on which David Barro has investigated the most. The next step, which opens this January 2019, is to open a residency program for creators or creatives, inaugurated by the Canarian artist Laura González Cabrera.

Another distinctive fact is the interest of this project to merge two nearby areas that tend to live in isolation, design with contemporary art, something that in the north of Spain does not exist despite the great tradition of Iberian design projects as well known as Sargadelos . Hence, DIDAC collaborates with the Galician Innovation Agency in the Design for Innovation 2020 program, the international Design4Innovation program and this year participate as a collaborating entity of the Porto Design Biennale. There are no complexes here to cross areas that are supposed to be closed in advance and this is surely their greatest virtue. That's the game: crossing from one field to another with hardly any distance, from an exhibition of the mythical Olivetti typewriter to the last work of the artist Juan López. We speak with David Barro about that timeless mismatch.

Remember, exhibition of Misha Bies Golas in Appleton Square, Lisbon.
Remember, exhibition of Misha Bies Golas in Appleton Square, Lisbon.

Opening an artistic space is, at best, complicated not only because of space logistics but because of economic costs. Let's start there. How is it financed?

DIDAC is financed mainly from donations and sponsorships. It is also important the support of the Provincial Council of La Coruña within its program of grants to foundations, which is by competitive competition. We do not have any other support, either from the City Council or from the Department of Culture of the Xunta de Galicia, although we have tried and we understand that it would be logical for the active work we do. To a lesser extent, we carry out editions, projects or specific productions with artists as many institutions do. One of our intentions is to get to the world of the company, although we wanted to do it with some of the work done, having made our goals visible. In 2019, we will start working on this collaboration search line, although we already have a series of support from companies and private patrons.

In what way does a space located in Santiago de Compostela speak about the Galician artistic context?

We understand that any creative activity must present attributes or signs of identity that define it: Galicia, the Iberian context and its Atlantic axis, are ours. That is why we paid special attention to Portugal with exhibitions by artists such as João Louro or Ângela Ferreira or designers such as Miguel Vieira Baptista and, of course, Galicia, with specific programs such as Arteria Galicia Project, in which the cycle "Galicia. A século of creation. 1916-2016 ", which consists of a series of conferences that we often celebrate outside our headquarters convinced that the transmission of knowledge is necessary to enable creativity between generations and to value the different cultural expressions, in this case in the field of art, design and architecture but also of music, fashion or cinema.

Part of the objectives is to create a file on the production that is made in Galicia from art and design.

Yes, in this line from Fundación DIDAC we are building a file in constant updating, on the one hand digital, arquivodidac.gal, which is formed from a selection of young artists, designers, architects, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural agents, and by another physicist, capable of gathering primary information, catalogs, magazines, posters, photographs and books of artists who contribute to the study of design and contemporary art in Galicia in the last fifty years. The publications, almost always in collaboration with the founding company Dardo, also play a fundamental role. We walk slowly, but with a firm step.

Is work in art precarious?

For some not, but for the majority. We have gone back decades and the situation of the artists is unsustainable. Now we enjoy infrastructures that were not available in the eighties, although empty of content and with incoherent or little rigorous programming; that is not having a context. In the eighties there was a stronger context, with more expectations and artists could live from the sale of their work. Of course, work in art is more precarious than when I started in the late nineties.

How is your relationship with the Galician context?

Fundamental. The real reason for the existence of the DIDAC Foundation is to strengthen a context such as Galician, which is increasingly weak and abandoned, where the closure or decomposition of a museum is becoming commonplace. The ecosystem of art in Galicia has broken down, there is no serious policy regarding the arts, the institutions that should represent us do not do so and have become obsolete and accomplices of political inaction.

Do you see how to solve that problem?

We live in times where the political views of our politicians are very low and culture is not among their priorities. Of course, there are exceptions, but very few. But you can work on art without political intervention. The Galician artistic context needs to be regenerated and reconstructed based on actions and spaces of a smaller scale, but which have their field of action in the rigor and cultural independence. We have to be faster than our own bureaucracy and we need flexible institutions to help us achieve it.

Do you suffer the art world of megalomania?

I think that if something suffers the art world is to look too navel. I consider it absolutely necessary to get closer to other sectors such as design, crafts or architecture and be very attentive to their achievements and think about common challenges. In that sense, he was born Drift. Cross looks between design and contemporary art that I just curated and that will be the last exhibition that we will be able to see in the MAC of A Coruña.

What serious problems would you say work in art has right now?

The precariousness and lack of respect for the work of artists. We have gone from provoking irritation among those who did not agree with contemporary art to provoking indifference.

Is it possible to talk about art escaping from the art world?

Of course. One of the greatest privileges of working in the cultural field is to be able to talk with the creators about their own works and to know their concerns first-hand.

He has led various publications on art on several occasions. What is the state of health of the critic?

Undoubtedly, the criticism has lost weight, but it continues to be essential, although surely in another way: now it does not fulfill the function of legitimizing but rather of visualizing and selecting before the deafening noise of social networks. And that function continues to be absolutely key.


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