Jun 4, 2021 | Articles, Featured

In 2014, the Spanish artist, researcher, and professor Esperanza Collado visited us with her performance We Only Guarantee the Dinosaurs –a very peculiar project on the possibilities of combining mobile projectors, playing with lights and shadows, off sounds, objects, loops, and actions with her own body, which appropriated the space turning it into a meditative, malleable, and, at times, even humorous place.  Seven years later, Collado is back with a coral performance in which she is the conductor of a heterogeneous orchestra of artists and skaters who, with their complementary actions, contribute to create a unique, unrepeatable event.

In the words of Collado, it all started with a skateboard.

This piece stems from an interest in skateboarding that I developed last year during a residency in Taipei. In the studio, my room was quite far from the working space, and another artist suggested that I should use their skateboard to get around. After taking my first steps into skateboarding and watching a lot of videos, I thought it could be interesting to include skateboarding in an expanded cinema project, making it part of the projection in a spatial cinematic situation. I came back to Spain, and on the first day of school (I teach at the faculty of fine art in Cuenca), I saw six or seven students on their skateboards and thought to myself: “This has potential!” That year, I had an amazing group of students. At the same time, I knew other skaters from previous years because I sometimes crossed them at the faculty, and some of them were interested in cinema, they had some experience with the process of filming. In addition, within the skateboarding scene, there is a subculture of people who make super 8 and 16mm films. With all this information, we decided to set up a classroom project (sk8 super 8), which we materialized using several super 8 reels. Soon after, Valentina Alvarado and Carlos Vásquez invited me to Barcelona –they wanted me to propose a performance for their project Ojo rima con máquina. I didn’t have that much time for preparing it, and I didn’t want to create something as elaborate as We Only Guarantee the Dinosaurs, but something that relied more on improvisation. While we were discussing the project, and knowing that Barcelona is home to a strong skateboarding culture, I suggested going to the MACBA square and recruiting a couple of skaters. However, during a conversation with fellow artist Mario Santamaría I learned that the MACBA square wasn’t the place for finding pro skateboarders, so we instead visited the place where pro skateboarders meet, and two of them agreed to be part of the project. This is how it all started. The title (Kicked with the Front Foot on the Dark Side of the Deck) refers to a skateboard trick. It was a wonderful experience. The reels I use for this project come from a previous performance that I made in 2010 –it was my first collaboration with Max Le Cain, Rafa del Pozo, and Víctor Esther García. Damien Sanville (who will also be present this year at (S8) for the Micro is Big event) helped me in the developing stage of this performance. The reels contain looped images created with the premise to not film: the aim was to generate loops but through hand processes only. I rescued the loops for Kicked, and I was amazed to discover how they kept transforming the space. The session in Barcelona was much simpler than the event we ended up creating in Cuenca. When I came back to Cuenca, I showed my students what we had done in Barcelona. They were so excited and wanted to try it immediately. For two weeks in January, we occupied the exhibition room of the faculty: we kept it in the dark and went there every afternoon to test new things. Every day, the students brought a new piece of equipment: some bulbs, pieces of fabric, a wooden structure… It was a very straightforward process, because we were doing it at the faculty of fine art, and we had access to lots of material and equipment. We ended up bringing 20 people into the project. It was very interesting… and chaotic, too. We presented it to the public in a context of intense anti-COVID restrictions, so we were able to gather a small group only. Here we’ll be sharing with the audience a reduced version of it, which in a way is good, because it’ll be easier to keep the event under control. Some spaces are great for improvisation, and the actions of the “performers” that accompany me (Guillermo Grande, Javi Montero, Paula Guerrero, Tzuhan Hung –who was a master’s student) are full of potential. The group brings together several bachelor students and some people who have already finished their bachelor’s or master’s degree.