HC: Firstly can you explain your background and tell me what you do in Madrid?
MGP: I always loved to transform ideas, objects and spaces, no matter which expressive media I was using, in order to create encounters and enjoy a social experience through art. I studied Architecture in Madrid. It was a slow seven year programme and I had time to explore other artistic actions in the meantime, like making short films, playing music and producing live art festivals at the University. Once I graduated I went to Rotterdam taking part in the AVL Ville Free State experience with the controversial and great artist Joep van Lieshout. We designed and produced a large variety of mobile sculptures, small architecture and urban performances.
Back in Madrid I founded a collective studio mainly dedicated to ephemeral architecture and set design: We worked for TV, Theatre and designed a series of ephemeral architecture projects for ARCO.
Then I started to write and direct my own scripts and plays. One of them, Clepsydra (in collaboration with amazing dancers Azahara Ubera and Pepa Ubera) was selected for a Festival at The Place Theatre in London. During my stay there I had the opportunity to show my work in stunning venues and take part in a series of great live art projects, allowing me to explore visual and spatial live media from a much wider perspective.
Currently I run my own art space in Madrid, Espacio Islandia, a collaborative creative island in the city centre. There I have the chance to dissolve the boundaries between disciplines and backgrounds: I produce my own shows and share the space with emerging Spanish and international artists, architects, musicians, writers, etc.
HC: The work you make seems to drift between live performance, installation and film screening. It also has a strikingly hypnotic atmosphere, which seems to be generated by repetitive actions and a tension between noise/silence. Can you tell me more about this revealing/withholding of information that happens in your work?
MGP: As I drift between those disciplines, I assume my work also does. At the current time my work oscillates between the intimate - image based works (drawing, photography, moving image) and the collective (performance and live installations). The hypnotic is a constant in my work. Perhaps it is a way of answering to this hysterical world in which we currently live.
You are right: tension belongs a contradictory - both shut and opened, fun and heavy - physical space between me (performing my life) and my voice (telling or concealing the messages). Once again this world keeps me seeking for any balance or calm within the being, and in order to get neutral state we need to walk in the gap between black and white, yes and no.
HC: Tell me about your work Sumidero Lugar (Drain Site) . How did it come about? I wonder if there are some literary references in there?
MGP: Sumidero Lugar (Drain Site) is a twenty page quotation I wrote five years ago. The premiere at The Place Theatre (London) was just a series of excerpts I tested as a collective performance. Drain Site was my third choreographed work.
Some of my references may be Beckett, Arrabal, Cassavettes, Tarkowsky, Barney, Viola, Abramovic. Though I don’t work too much from references, I usually work from uncompleted memories that I need to complete, subjective and external images from which I start to pull and create.
Again I was developing a live painting, live installation, live space. When I direct, I apparently don’t manipulate the result too much, even I am aware of the whole concept, structure and details. In this case the result was an organic installation of absences-presences that was as familiar to the audience as not easy to connect with. The reviews were horrendous, I happily remember one saying “I am still struggling to find words to describe such an obtuse work”. It is good to struggle!
HC: What are your current projects?
MGP: Currently I work on the ephemeral transformation of the space and environment of Gallery ATM Contemporary in Gijon (Spain) for a full night series of artistic events called La Noche Blanca (The white night). I am also sending a video work for a collective exhibition at Doomed Gallery, London. It will be on the 22nd and 23rd of September, so hopefully you will be able to have a glance! Finally, I will start a new approach to one of my stage projects, a new moving image work hopefully for a solo show next year.
HC: Let’s talk about Espacio Islandia, your project space in Madrid. You run microResidencies, and generate dialogue and debate amongst peers. How did Islandia begin? How does it affect/help/alter your practice as an artist?
MGP: Islandia is a tiny piece of the city I share with my partner Ivan M. Valencia. He is also working in film so we share the space, and sometimes we collaborate. From my position as an artist / curator, Islandia is for me an open and in progress concept, perhaps my biggest experimental project as it allows me to test the collective potentials and the city response.
I started to run a project called microResidencies, where I act as a curator and we offer the space for 2 hours and we give 2 euros fund. The response of the unpredictable audience is amazing. They see an opened studio where an emerging artist (not just the owner) is working. Art needs to move and learn, and I am opened to any proposals from artists and art spaces from all over the world.
HC: How you would like the space to develop in the future – are you working with any other independent art organisations?
MGP: This year we will keep Espacio Islandia as our studio space, but also as a flexible and multiple space, as an anomaly in the city. I don't like the idea of art for an elite. I think we need to be aware of the audience feelings and get close to them, that's our responsibility. I will improve the programme curating “small big shows”, microResidencies -perhaps slowly including new formats- and an upcoming microPerformance Festival.
We also continue with an innovative and festive series of collective workshops in Dibujo y Acción (Draw and Action) that I run, together with artist Esther Gatón, in Espacio Islandia and surrounding areas.
We are working in further collaborations with institutions like Museo Reina Sofia (Master of Visual and Performance Programme), Complutense Arts University (Madrid) Espacio Menosuno (Tabacalera, Madrid), Kreae (Portugal) and we are beginning to export our workshops.
HC: Given that you are based in Madrid, can you describe what it is like being a creative practitioner in this city? What do you think the biggest challenges are? And what opportunities are available?
MGP: Some of the people here say “Nothing moves here, there are no opportunities, art is controlled by the same old agents, contemporary arts might be elsewhere but Madrid.” Some other people just work, enjoy their process, investigate and create their own collectives.
If I am in Madrid it is because my family and friends are here, this is a comfortable city with a big tradition in arts and literature, and the weather and food are so nice!
As a creative practitioner, I make a living out of teaching drawing and scenography and keep as much time as possible for my art practice and collaborative work. Sometimes I struggle if I want to show my work in Madrid (most of my shows have been abroad) or collaborate. Madrid is not yet a place in which artists are easily recognized.
In the arts there is little money for grants, production and management is slowly improving. Madrid and Spain have huge potential in the arts and culture. I would love to see a real public space with social requirements fulfilled. One of the main urban minimums for a big city like Madrid should be a renewed public space, where critical thinking would be permitted with an open minded and joyful attitude.
Some of the Art Schools in the city might be stuck in their old fashioned rules and have no good reputation, but emerging artists who studied or worked abroad are working hard to bring renewed intentions and procedures. We also have interesting international education programmes at Reina Sofia and Arts School at Complutense University. Therefore I am sure good times are coming!