Art in Common: A Construction of Meanings

May 19, 2006 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Harris School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street, Lecture Hall

A presentation by Luis Herrera, founding member of the Al Zur-ich* project and the Tranvia Cera artist collective; Quito , Ecuador

This presentation will be given in Spanish, with English translation.

Read the paper

*Al Zur-ich is a play on words – meaning “south of the city” in Spanish slang, but also bringing to mind Zurich, an orderly, cosmopolitan and financially powerful Swiss city whose image suggests a stark contrast with Quito’s southern sector.

Al Zur-ich engages both schooled and unschooled artists in creation and experimentation in neighborhoods far from the seat of Quito ’s economic, political and cultural power. By inserting art into neglected urban spaces, this initiative has generated exciting new visual alternatives and has revitalized Quito ’s once narrowly-defined art scene. Inhabitants of some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods have embraced this form of cultural production, becoming the movement’s principal actors. In 2005, Al Zur-ich had its most successful exhibition to date. For nearly five months, a selected group of artists worked in diverse sectors of South Quito , producing pieces that were fully integrated into, and inspired by, the local neighborhoods. The founders of Al Zur-ich consider these pieces to be “total art,” as they resulted from interaction between the creators, the community, and the urban space.

About Tranvia Cera

Al Zur-ich began several years ago as a project of Tranvia Cera, an artists’ collective born in the School of Plastic Arts at Central University during the 1990s, in response to the increased isolation of Quito’s art scene in the elite and economically privileged northern sector since the 1980s. Tranvia Cero (Streetcar Zero) seeks to provoke a return to a “point zero” for art. Their goal has been to open new possibilities for art, and to create a new urban social space in which the urban dweller is the protagonist. It supports urban expression from the inside, providing a form of art that reveals and reflects the social problems that institutionalized art often avoids.