Tag Archives: margarita vazquez ponte

moravia report…

…and while we are on the subject of reports (see previous post), here is my final report on the workshop i co-ran in Aug/Sept of last year in Colombia:

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.


  • 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



Participants’ feedback:

  • 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 was imperative to the success of the workshop, without their 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 practised 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


I don’t draw nearly enough these days, but here and especially in Butterfly Hill i generally manage to do something…here are some of my sketches from this year, Nov/Dec 2011…often done with a large audience of assorted orphanage kids who lean into you, grab your arms, grab your pens, grab your book…i got quite used to it after a while…

mango tree – drawn while sitting in the shade of the dispensary veranda in Butterfly Hill

banana tree – drawn during lunch time, covered in a shawl to stop the fierce sun from burning me

neem tree plus leaf drawn from the veranda of one of the houses on Butterfly Hill campus

palm trees – drawn in the evening at Butterfly Hill waiting for the milk van to give me a bumpy lift back to Daddy’s Home

papaya tree – drawn during lunch time in the cultivated fields round Butterfly Hill, i drew while the field workers took a lunch time snooze

all singing all dancing conclusions…

We have finished our workshop for now…but not for good, the idea is to come back again and train more people, make trainers of the young women we have began to work with so that this project will grow and sustain itself. But for now we have finished.

Our concluding event is unlike anything i have ever been involved in. We hold it in the auditorium of the Centro de Desarollo Cultural de Medellin where we have been based for the past 4 weeks, it is the very much used centre of the community, so it makes sense to present here. We show the films of the girls in 3 chapters which are interspersed by break dancers, capoeira dancers and a rapper (female).

Here you do things differently and as we are surrounded by music and dance, it makes sense to include it in our presentation. We are careful to choose acts that always include a positive female presence.

Film by Jessica Mazo (Zarahi)

The film above is by Zarahi, it’s an homage to a graffiti work she participated in a couple of years ago, which in turn was a homage to Moravia. She brought in the music herself to edit into the work. I think it is brilliant.

Well what can i say, it the whole thing, the workshop, the presentation was a bit of a success i think, the girls are a mixture of embarrassed and very proud to see their work in public and on a big screen, i think it was very empowering for them to see how much they could do in such a short time. They all received certificates for their work. They ask us what now? they are keen to do more…which is great and hopefully will happen…For it just to end, for the girls to stop learning and not have more opportunities to push their new skills…well they will have had a nice experience but with no lasting effect…

Some girls bring all their family, Kate’s grand mother can barely walk but she still managed to get here as did her mum and her aunt and cousins…

new filmmakers from moravia…

…finally getting to show some of the work of the girls from our workshop…bear in mind they have had around 8 or 9 days of training, and some were not computer literate…i think the results are amazing, they range from comercial to retrospective to documentary…Even if you cant speak spanish i think you can get it (will subtitle eventually…when i get the time)

En moravia hay espacio para la musica

Film by Maria Alejandra Galeano

Persona Introspectiva

Film by Carolina Ramos Perea

La Bermejala

Film by Adriana Bustamante

field trip into the centre…

click here for the official blog for our workshop moravia video lab – in spanish and not mine for a change!

So we decide to take the girls out of Moravia and into the centre of Medellin. The centre is not the safest of areas but it does have a lot of shops and good museums, so armed with a few discreet pocket video cameras we go with 10 of the girls, the youngest of whom is 12 so it’s a big responsibility…

Actually it’s very cool, some of the girls have never taken the metro before nor been to a museum. They really enjoy the Museo de Antioquia and go crazy with the video cameras, filming and describing what what they like and why…

The theme of our whole workshop is to touch upon the position the female in the society where the girls live. Its not so easy for them, females here are sexualised from a very young age…i know this goes on everywhere but here it is particularly acute…

So we are in the Museo de Antioquia which has a huge collection of the Colombian grand master Fernando Botero. I hate how he treats the female form…always decorative with huge breasts and bums…mainly naked, often with child…yawn. However i love some of his paintings…he is a new discovery for me, though hugely famous in South America…

I LOVE this…Velazquez 1997 by Fernando Botero

Pablo Escobar dead, 2006 by Fernando Botero

Hmm – Escobar dead, the deification begins (Medellin was his town) – his figure in large scale (like part religious figures, his wounds like those of St Sebastian…the woman gazing up from below, looks like she is praying??? hmmmm…

the girls look so nice in front of a victorian photographers backdrop that i ask them all to pose for me…

I only take my camera out inside the museum…no way outside…the centre is frenetic, tense and more than a little crazy…we made the mistake of going back there by ourselves the following Sunday…BIG mistake as it is much quieter which means than me and Rosa (with whom i collaborate) really stand out, and there are WAY more scary people…if a street is quiet, generally you don’t walk down it…won’t do that again…