Jorge Díez

MADRID ABIERTO comes to its fifth edition after so far receiving more than 1,500 proposals from artists from all over the world in response to the consecutive public invitations. The fifty five projects produced in these last five years have entailed a difficult but satisfying task, coupled with the recurring feeling of certain frustration in the thorough selection task which every year inevitably leaves several interventions, which no doubt are as interesting as those that finally manage to be executed, along the path. Added to this is the certainty that neither the resources nor the time available are enough to develop the potential of many proposals to the full, without ignoring the deficiencies, for example, in the dissemination and the educational aspect of a programme of this nature. Nevertheless, what began as an arduous restructuring of the Open Spaces of the Altadis Foundation in ARCO, has now taken the shape of an on-going approach programme to interpreting and understanding how the public space is constructed from a point of view of contemporary artistic practice, which for the last five years has been held in the month of February in the junction Prado-Recoletos-Castellana.

This project has sometimes received criticism from the most institutional to the most alternative spheres. The latter because, despite being managed independently through a cultural association, the event has been labelled as excessively institutional, and the former precisely because, being not quite sure into which circle of power to place the event, they have taken the liberty to make certain hypercritical comments to compensate for their usual half measures with future or potential clients. The fact is that, on occasion of this fifth edition, both the weaknesses detected and the criticisms received have spurred us to make an in-depth review of Madrid Abierto. To do this, we decided to set up an advisory committee co-ordinated by Rocio Gracia and comprised of Cecilia Andersson (director of Werk), Democracia, Guillaume Désanges (art co-ordinator in Les Laboratoires D'Aubervilliers, Îlle de France), Jorge Díez (director of Madrid Abierto), Ramon Parramon (director of IDENSITAT), Fito Rodríguez (Rodríguez Foundation) and Mª Inés Rodríguez (independent curator). This advisory committee has discussed all the aspects relative to the format, type of public invitation, selection, regularity, location, organisers and objectives of the programme. In addition, all the members of the advisory committee will participate in the public-art debate tables which will be held on the 7th and 8th of February in La Casa Encendida, together with the selected artists and representatives of other international projects, such as Nelson Brissac and Vít Havránek.

This 2008 edition will be held from the 7th of February to the 2nd of March and it is organised by the group Democracia, which has selected the projects of LaHostiaFineArts (LHFA), Alicia Framis/Michael Lin, Anno Dijkstra, Guillaume Ségur, Andreas Templin, Todo por la Praxis, Fernando Llanos, Fernando Prats (Casa de América) and Annamarie Ho/Inmi Lee (Círculo de Bellas Artes), with the guests Jota Castro, Santiago Cirugeda, Santiago Sierra and a group of urban artists from Madrid (Noaz/Dier).

In this edition, the generic concept which the organisers have worked with has been that of conceiving the public art interventions as an opportunity to transmit messages that are unusual to the public space, the latter understood as a communication channel dominated by the discourse generated from the commercial and institutional spheres, both in terms of the specifically urban and architectural as well as the complex network of the media. Based on this premise, and the prior open invitation to projects, the selected interventions seek to generate thought on our immediate political, social and cultural environment. The aim is to approach how the city is organised, the role of art in the public space and the new forms of culture associated with urban life. In this respect, the different interventions aim to confront and question the relationship of the citizen with his/her environment, generating both symbolic and practical proposals.

In addition, once again, this year we have integrated a specific sonorous art section in which the work of Petra Dubach/Mario Van Horrik, Avelino Sala/Dano, Gregory Büttner, Carola Cintrón Moscoso, Pedro Torres, Debashis Sinha, Josh Goldman, Miguel Gil, Patrick Courtney, Hong-Kai Wang, Edith Alonso and Leopoldo Amigo Pérez have been selected for broadcast on Radio 3 of Radio Nacional de España. In collaboration with the Centro Cultural Montehermoso de Vitoria-Gasteiz and the Rodríguez Foundation, the audiovisual work of Estibaliz Sadaba, Itziar Okariz, Mabi Revuelta, Mikel Arbiza of Perros Callejeros Films, Furallefalle-FAF (Vanesa Castro/Iñaki López), Maya Watanabe, Raúl Bajo Ibáñez, Andrew Senior and Yolanda de los Bueis, selected in the 8th edition of Intervenciones TV, round off the programme.

This fifth edition is organised by the Asociación Cultural Madrid Abierto, with the sponsoring of the Altadis Foundation, the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Community of Madrid and the Arts Department of the City Council of Madrid, with the collaboration of Casa de América, Círculo de Bellas Artes, ARCO, the Telefónica Foundation, La Casa Encendida of Obra Social Caja Madrid, the Ministry of Culture, Radio 3 and Radio Clasica of RNE, Embassy of France, Embassy of the Netherlands, Fundación Rodríguez-Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Manufacturas Muro, Centro Cultural de la Villa, Gallery Joan Prats, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Fundación Atlético de Madrid, Metro de Madrid, Liquidación Total and Universidad Europea de Madrid. Continuing with the work of previous editions, RMS La Asociación has been responsible for the co-ordination, and the 451 team has developed the graphic image and the web page (www.madridabierto.com).

Jorge Díez

Director of Madrid Abierto