Inventing the World Through Cultural Spaces

By Julio Urizar

Any community needs social and cultural spaces that offer their inhabitants opportunities for exchanges and dialogue. Rather than offering a schedule of various activities, a cultural space should position itself as a platform for action that promotes artistic expression and reflection that is spawned from alternative forms of knowledge to those that are traditionally taught in school.  With special attention to children, a well-designed cultural space can be like a house, a museum, an art school, a gallery, the street, or even the city itself; a place where laughter, friendship, creativity and critical thinking invent the world.

A cultural space can be a place where it´s possible to harness the creative energy and super powers that come with being a child (imagination, wonder, creativity, curiosity and transformation) and that allows these energies to fully develop and manifest themselves.

An excellent example of such a space is that of Los Patojos Guatemala. Based in Jocotenango, Sacatepéquez, this association has spent more than seven years building a platform where children and young people can get involved in directing their own education by using art as a tool for understanding and analysing their surroundings. By doing things differently, today Los Patojos has become a space where children can actively participate in the transformation of their reality.

Can spaces such as this be found in Xela? Definitely. In Ciudad de la Imaginación, we have developed a model course of fun workshops in which children from different schools have been able to explore the history of art in Guatemala and the world. Through a tour of the artistic vanguards of the twentieth century through to contemporary art, children imagine, discuss and appreciate the ways in which art has transformed the ways we experience the world. This is an important exercise, especially when we consider that we can only begin to become creators when we are capable of finding and expressing our feelings and building relationships between ourselves and what surrounds us, as artists across the generations have done.

In a country facing high levels of violence and few opportunities to access high quality education, art allows us to develop innovative capabilities to confront social challenges. Unfortunately art is often underrated as an alternative way to build our collective capabilities. It is often seen as a hobby or as a skill or talent, when in fact it can act as a trigger for countless forms of emancipation, thinking and learning. The importance of cultural spaces lies in the fact that they encourage more freely imagination, reflection and peaceful coexistence. It is therefore necessary to give special attention and support to all projects that converge as cultural spaces. As it is in these spaces where society is truly transformed.

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