Moravia Video Lab – phase 1
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF MORAVIA (text in grey is taken from the elpuentelab.org website)
Moravia is a quarter of Medellín, in Colombia, that grew from the illegal settlement of communities that arrived in the city in the ‘60’s. The municipal dump, established in the same area in 1977, gave the inhabitants a chance for survival, based on recuperating any recyclable materials, which effectively turned Moravia into a marginalised quarter with its economy based on and sustained by refuse. Due to social conflict in the early ‘80’s and ‘thanks’ to the presence of the dump, Moravia reached its highest level of population of 17 thousand people in 1983. By 2004 Moravia and its catchment area had 42,000 inhabitants living in just 44 hectares, becoming the zone with the highest population per square metre in the entire city of Medellín. This extreme population density and the indiscriminate appropriation of the land, has caused a decline in the quality of life and a lack of public space. In the same year, the Alcaldia de Medellín (municipality of Medellín) under the guidance of mayor Sergio Fajardo, began the Macroproyecto de Moravia, an integrated strategic plan to promote development through actions aimed toward recovering the urban area and improving the socio-cultural, socio-economic and environmental conditions, working on both physical and social components, such as public space, public hygiene, public housing and education.
Only recently the resurgence of Medellín, founded on culture and education, has led to results even in the Moravia district, the first and perhaps most important of which was the simple inclusion of the quarter within the urban fabric. A significant sign of the quarter’s rebirth is the Centro de Desarrollo Cultural de Moravia (CDCM), a centre whose aim is to promote culture, education and the arts, and which was strongly desired by the community; a project that is truly one of a kind, and that offers a highly valid model for the entire continent.
Moravia Video Lab was a 3-week video workshop for young women with an age range of 14 – 18 years old (with a few exceptions, namely two girls aged 12 and one woman aged 24). The workshop took place in the district of Moravia in the city of Medellín, Colombia between the dates 16 August – 2 September 2011. The workshop was commissioned by artist Juan Sandoval from the Colombian collective El Puente Lab, a platform for artistic and cultural production, active in Medellín, which aims to develop cultural projects on a local level, building bridges of communication with artists and experts through a strategy of international cooperation. Scottish/Spanish artist Margarita Vazquez Ponte and Ecuadorian artist Maria Rosa Jijon were invited by El Puente to curate and run the workshop which took place in and around the Centro de Desarrollo Cultural de Moravia, the district of Moravia itself, and further afield into other parts of the city.
Participants: Adriana Bustamante, Carolina Ramos Perea, Cielo M. Holguin, Daniela Saldarriaga, Jessica Andrea Mazo (Zarahi), Monica Marcela Gallo, Maria Alejandra Galeano, Yenifer Katherine Castrillon, Angie Paola Rueda, Johana Cuervo, Johana Marcela Florez, Katerine Echavarria, Sara Geraldine Alvarez, Yennifer Galeano (Lala), Yulyana Pradilla Soto
- To teach the basic principles of video making and editing.
- To give the participants hands on participatory experience within as many of the aspects of video making as is possible within the allotted time.
- To touch upon themes regarding the position of the female within the context of the girls lives (they live in a society heavily balanced towards the male figure, women are objectified and sexualized at very early ages. The statistics for early pregnancy and domestic violence are very high).
- To initiate a programme that will eventually sustain itself. To train the girls firstly as participants and then to teach them to become local trainers who can keep on teaching new recruits from within the district of Moravia.
- The principles of participatory video
- An instant hands on approach to learning and the technical aspects of the workshop
- Encouraging the participants to become auto critical
- Mediation from community leaders
- Utilising and encouraging sense of place and location as thematic values
- Utilisation of creative commons regarding authorship
- Field trips
- Public presentation of work and closure
- Feedback sessions with participants
In the end the girls were extremely prolific and progressed very quickly from editing very simple little snapshot videos to making extremely creative and artistic decisions regarding editing and content and in the end around 30 short videos were created. The films were presented to the public at the end of the workshop at the Centro de Desarrollo Cultural de Moravia on September 1st 2011, where the participants were also awarded a certificate of attendance and completion. In the spirit of the barrio of Moravia this was an “all singing, all dancing” affair and the videos were interspersed with local musicians and dancers who performed. As well as being a logical conclusion to the workshop, this public forum was crucial for the participants as a validation of all their hard work and a means of instilling pride in what they had achieved in such a short time and sharing this with the local community.
- Feedback was very positive; all appreciated the atmosphere of a female only learning environment saying that it helped with concentration and also in feeling less inhibited to express themselves.
- All were happy with the mixed age group, the common goal united the group and ages were forgotten about.
- All were very surprised and proud of the results of their own work.
- The immediacy of the workshop and the quick results were favourably commented on, as was the demystification of the whole process of video editing.
- Very positive feedback came from the families of the participants who noted a new and invigorated engagement in their daughters.
- The participants felt that the workshop was too short and that 2 weeks of practical work was not enough. They felt they had only just got going when the workshop ended.
- The participants felt that there was not enough editing equipment, often three girls had to share one computer and this could become frustrating for them.
- What next? All the participants wanted to know how to carry on, would there be more workshops?
- Mediation, preparation and collaboration with Community leaders like Cielo Holguin was imperative to the success of the workshop, without her expertise and local knowledge we could not have operated effectively within this complex area of Medellin.
- In a very short time, due to a common goal and shared experiences a group of young women empowered by their own capabilities was created.
- A new archive of films and memories was created about Moravia by citizens of Moravia. The styles are incredibly varied, from commercial, to introspective, to documentary…
- A platform/ body of work now exists that will allow us to showcase the girls work in other contexts and countries in order to share their work and vision with a wider context and also to generate more interest in the project with the aim to make it spread and grow.
- Spontaneous collaboration – was one of the most exciting side effects of the workshops. Some of the participants have created lasting bonds and are already in collaboration with each other to make new works. Many of the group also proposed the idea to keep working together independently of the workshop on future projects.
- It was mutually beneficial for both the artists and the girls to come from such different backgrounds. Part of the richness of the whole experience came from the exchanges of backgrounds and cultural norms we had throughout the workshop period.
- It is imperative that this workshop should continue in order to consolidate the knowledge and skills of the girls, At the start, video editing is easily forgotten unless it is frequently practiced and there is a danger that this past workshop will become a nice experience/memory for the girls but will leave no lasting effect. More training and 2 further workshops should be enough to train local trainers and for the whole thing to become sustainable on a local level and not rely on the help of external consultants such as ourselves.
One of the many films produced by the participants during the workshop:
En moravia hay espacio para la musica
Film by Maria Alejandra Galeano
For more films from the workshop please click here
For the official Moravia Video Lab (written mostly in spanish) click here