The current edition of inSite embraces several significant shifts. First, past versions maintained the art world construct of an exhibition that opened and closed during a specific time frame. By contrast, inSite/Casa Gallina is conceived as a processual project that will be developed over a span of five years, from 2014 through 2018. As such, the timing and visibility of projects and programs will unfold according to their own rhythms and necessities; in turn, we envision having the flexibility and freedom to pursue unexpected possibilities suggested by projects as they evolve.
Second, unlike past inSites, where artists and their collaborators intervened in locations across a wide geographic zone, the emphasis of inSite/Casa Gallina is on a specific neighborhood, Santa María la Ribera, as a hybrid node of public life in the megalopolis of Mexico City. By establishing a physical center of operations in Santa María (the Casa in Casa Gallina), we aim to install an artistic intersection in the complex eco-political weave of the neighborhood as a platform outside the conventional art world. The house not only serves as a residence for guest artists, but also as a site to activate processes of neighborhood participation, which include an urban garden/farm, an open kitchen, meeting space for artists and their collaborators, space for technical workshops, and an open space devoted to the accumulation and sharing of knowledge produced through the realization of projects and programs. As such, inSite/Casa Gallina is imagined as an enclave generating diverse gestures that might reveal points of both stress (fragility) and malleability (transformation) in the social fabric of the neighborhood.
Project planning for inSite/Casa Gallina began in mid-2013 with the Board of Directors’ decision to support Artistic Director Osvaldo Sanchez’ project framework and begin the search for a house in Santa María. Sanchez and a small team oversaw the renovation of the house during the first nine months of 2014. At the same time, they were working off-site to refine the project framework, begin the commissioning process with initial artist residencies, engage a group of cultural anthropologists to produce a social map of the sixteen-block radius surrounding the house, and design our website. The renovation of the house, itself a project, was completed by C Cubica, a three-person Mexico City-based firm of architects.
Calle Sabino 190 between Manuel Carpio y Salvador Díaz Mirón, Santa María La Ribera. C.P. 06400 Mexico City.
Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm
Michael Krichman / inSite Executive Director
Carmen Cuenca / Casa Gallina Executive Director
Osvaldo Sánchez / Artistic Director
Danielle Reo / Chief Financial Officer
Susana Pineda / Administration
Sergio Olivares / Production
Josefa Ortega y Violeta Celis / Cultural Synergies
Rosa Elba Camacho / Community Liaison
David Hernández y Rodrigo Simancas / Knowledges Platform
Mariano Arribas / Production Assistant
Eric Álvarez / General Services
Luis Gómez / Registration and diffusion
Rosario Hernández y Andrés Ramírez / Administration
The initial work platforms of inSite/Casa Gallina are conceived as search fields open to dialogue; they exceed curatorial action and the mystified social recognition given to artists. These territories of intellectual, cultural and political action are subjected to a daily verification by the neighborhood, by its actors and their interests. And it is precisely the socio-economic fabric of the barrio, which will be defining the civic nature of individual and collective efforts to create, to search for, and, finally, to facilitate the emergence of a new development paradigm and social collaboration.
The curatorial platforms of inSite/Casa Gallina are divided into two parallel program areas: one comprising creative practices in group processes in the public domain (Artist Commissions) for interventions by artists and guest agents in the neighborhood environment. And the other focused on direct social action using curatorial practices for educational training and specific collaborations (Knowledges and Synergies) to generate a local impact. These curatorial platforms seek to catalyze the commitments and challenges of inSite/Casa Gallina by means of a variety of group activities and strategies, in order to further bond the social fabric of the area.
Artist Commissions comprise contextual interventions by artists and agents in residence, in order to develop creative work of collective interest with specific groups of the neighborhood using procedural dynamics in joint participation. The partnerships are the result of research residencies and of group discussions aimed at creating a work of art or a cultural device.
Knowledges is an educational platform that includes bibliographic and multimedia research, as well as general or specialized training programs—courses and workshops—directed at specific groups. The content of Knowledges takes advantage of existing information and traffic networks in the neighborhood to promote and distribute shared knowledge and topics of interest to the community. The courses and workshops, events and activities in spaces and/or local areas are focused on making an impact on the economic and social condition of the group. Knowledges also seeks to influence daily critical awareness in the community, encouraging alternative economic models either through the Casa Gallina urban farm and/or kitchen, the Mercado La Dalia or family businesses in the neighborhood.
Synergies groups a number of specific actions in the neighborhood fabric to generate alliances and creative actions that may influence the community’s imaginary or encourage civic consensus for the benefit of the area.
Synergies also describes initiatives to create solidarity and support networks of economic and professional collaboration. These may include different fields of action or structures of collaboration, as well as different types of support and processes of varied time spans. Their main objective is to promote local economies in a spirit of mutual collaboration, support and solidarity in existing family businesses located in the barrio or to add quality or expertise to services and businesses. Thus, this platform seeks to energize the neighborhood’s social life and its efficiency and benefits.
(In order to specify the fields of action of these curatorial platforms, and to enable searches in this site, programs are classified under the following headings: Commissions, Training, Synergies, Publications, Activities, Collaborations and Contextual Studies.)
An essential platform in the dynamics of groups that frequently visit Casa Gallina, the Open Kitchen is a key space for critical thinking and collective action concerning everyday practices related to culinary culture and creativity. It underlines the importance of rethinking our nutritional habits, as well as appreciating social rituals and assessing the political and economic implications related to food.
Another platform that defines Casa Gallina is the Urban Farm, which joins several fields and lines of action of the project generally—promoting a sense of ownership and responsibility for everyday activities, encouraging, by means of sustainable activities, environmental regeneration, and contributing to food autonomy/ sovereignty. As a permanent public program of inSite/Casa Gallina, the Urban Farm seeks to generate experiences, critical thinking and dialogue that influence directly the economy and eating habits of the participants.
To link multidimensional readings of the local environment, Casa Gallina will commission/produce several contextual studies to begin a process of decoding neighborhood life and of understanding the human, material, productive and socio-political dimensions within Santa María La Ribera.
The studies and related mapping of the neighborhood will be used as one tool in developing participatory, trans-disciplinary projects (Artist Commissions), as well as a variety of programs focused on sustainability. Such studies will help outline the knowledge and interests in the community, the possible interventions in public areas, as well as distribution networks of cultural material and economic solidarity.
A first approach to the context will be a mapping to study the area from a specific perspective that, in turn, will generate mapping and signage strategies.
First mapping/ Socio-cultural and Human Diagnosis. Complete document. PDF
A second approach to the neighborhood context of Dalia Market is designed from an ethnographic perspective that comprises information on the economic, political and organizational structure of the market, including distribution and consumption profiles, and the resulting social networks. This study aims to design an efficient productive tool for merchants and clients.
Contextual studies / La Dalia Market ethnographic survey. Complete document. PDF
A third approach to the neighborhood context was a commission to the Argentine duo, the Iconoclasistas, to design and implement a “collective mapping” project in the neighborhood. Neighbors were invited to Casa Gallina to discuss their ways of living in and appreciating the barrio. Mappings in open consultation addressed common issues regarding quality of life, such as housing, basic needs, neglect of public roads, health, trades, businesses and local economies, among others. Extended over a period of several weeks, the process took place in different locations. The record of the Iconoclasista’s process is available in PDF format.
Contextual studies / Iconoclasistas collective mapping. Log. PDF
In addition, a book about the project was produced together with a graphic poster that focuses on gentrification—a strong concern in the neighborhood that surfaced during the mapping. Both have been widely distributed in Santa Maria.