The Paul Bardwell contemporary art gallery of Medellin and the Catalan organisation of specialists in cultural management Trànsit Projectes have maintained a relationship of ongoing cooperation since the year 2004. The result of this collaboration is Desearte Paz, a platform dedicated to promoting the creation and dissemination of contemporary art, through which the artists analyse and become involved in the city’s social, academic, institutional and artistic structures that work towards a culture of peace. In this way, the artists become true socio-educational agents who promote the social inclusion of communities with a high risk of exclusion, and provide them with spaces that allow them to embark on a journey of self-knowledge, to liberate their creativity and to boost their identity and projection. In Medellin the project is being developed shoulder to shoulder with 8 primary and secondary schools, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Antioquia, over 15 NGOs that are active in the city and Secretaries’ Offices of the City Hall of Medellin, which enable the project’s true impact on and articulation with the territory.
The «Social Labs», or «socio-artistic laboratories», are participation spaces where artists, students, communities and professionals from the fields of culture and social development produce teaching programmes, artistic production processes and academic seminars revolving around the different social problems. The Social Labs have dealt with, among other issues, physical disabilities, forced displacements, inclusion of young people in the construction of the community, violence against women or human rights in penitentiaries. These socio-artistic labs have served to generate artistic creation processes that have given rise to exhibitions in both Medellin and in other cities in Colombia and the rest of the world (Barcelona, Cork and Washington).
Between the years 2005 and 2008, the project’s activities have facilitated over 80 international trips for artists and professionals from the fields of culture and social development, over 150 conferences to strengthen the processes of students and social organisations, the production of 20 exhibitions with a powerful political and social charge, sixteen documentaries, a book and 22 workshops headed by artists and social organisations. Over 5000 people between school and university students, artists and at-risk communities have participated in the different processes of artistic and educational production that the project generates.
Today Desearte Paz, which started life as a pilot project under the motto of Redesearte Paz (Rewishing you Peace), serves as a model for cultural organisations such as Base 7 of Sao Paulo, Matucana Cien of Santiago de Chile, Funarte of Estelí-Nicaragua and Can Xalant of Mataró. In the future, the project plans to internationally strengthen a network of cultural agents that, through contemporary art, will promote processes, projects and interventions to reinforce the processes of citizens’ participation, raising awareness of and giving access to the cultural capital of people and collectives in situations