Visiting artist Tim Portlock talks to La Práctica about the relationship between his work and the conventions of 19th century American painting traditions. 2012
Beta-Local is an organization and a physical space in San Juan, Puerto Rico founded in 2009 and devoted to aesthetic thought and practice. Most of what Beta-Local does comes out of three main programs: La Práctica, an interdisciplinary production-based fellowship program, The Harbor, an artist residency program in support of La Práctica, and La Ivan Illich, an open school. These programs are designed in order to encourage risk taking experimentation, democratization of information and community participation. Through these three main structures other programming arises: public talks, exhibitions, workshops and projects that engage with a wide public.
2010-11 La Práctica participant Tara Rodríguez gets feedback on her architectural drawings.
Beta-Local allows for multiple points of entry, easy ways of switching roles from teacher to student, programmer to public, artist to participant. This permeability, role switching and multiple pathways to participation is designed into the programs. Because Beta-Local has no dedicated exhibition space, fellows are pushed to collaborate with existing venues, or public spaces, and individuals and organizations of all kinds from activist or community organizations to economic think tanks. This has turned out to be a great accident. The first year of projects coming out of La Práctica ranged from a series of concerts using tents and contact mikes as instruments in outdoor spaces, to an installation in a 17,000 square foot warehouse that involved interventions by athletes, dancers and musicians.
Fellows in La Práctica, which is a one-year program are artists (from a variety of disciplines) who have been developing work, generally for at least 2-5 years after their education. At times also artists or cultural producers who are interested in taking on a complex project, or putting their practice through a strong critical workout, as well as working in an interdisciplinary and open way.
During 2011-2012 participant Noemí Segarra developed her project PISO, a physical and metaphorical platform for movement research through improvisation in public and semi-public spaces.
This year’s fellows include a dancer turned lawyer who works on prisoners’ rights issues and who is starting an artist residency program; a movement researcher taking improvisation into public space; a young artist interested in the relationship between the idea of Utopia and the tropics. During 2011 we invited as residents artists Pablo Guardiola, Carla Zaccagnini and Amílcar Packer, curator Catalina Lozano and artist/writer Matthew Rana, among others. La Ivan Illich, the school without a curriculum is used by a much wider community, which includes everything from bikers exchanging informal bike paths to senior citizens teaching Lebanese cooking. It’s wide open, which makes for interesting overlaps. This past June Beta-Local hosted a very academic lecture on economics on the same day they were screening Rainer Ganahl’s video I hate Karl Marx. The combination was fantastic. In 2012-13 Beta-Local will be collaborating with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Johanna Unzueta, Felipe Mujica, Edra Soto, Raimond Chaves, Gilda Mantilla and many other residents, and with La Práctica participants who will be selected through an open call, deadlined June 1st.
For application guidelines, click here.
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