LOCUTORIO COLÓN

(Public art commission; Madrid, Spain; 2005-2006; collaboration with Maki Portilla-Kawamura + Tadanori Yamaguchi)

Madid Abierto is a public art programme. When we received this commission our first question was: What is public art, actually? In our view it is the kind of practice that "generates" public space, space of interaction, regardless of whether that happens in an open space or in a private environment.

Colón was the first communicator between the Old and the New world. We believe that Plaza de Colón in central Madrid should maintain the communicative character we attribute to the person it is named after. Now, more than five centuries after that first contact, we suggest using this agora to highlight the contemporary state of relationships between Europe and Latin America.

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The entangled social melting pot of Madrid contains new emerging communities, consisting chiefly of immigrants from Latin American. In our communication society, call centres perform a catalytic function for the recently arrived communities. They are the physical vortices of an indefinite but dense mesh of local relationships, and also a medium of global relationships.  

The proposal consisted of a free call centre to Latin America located in Plaza de Colón during February 2006 under the public art programme Madrid Abierto. This project seeked to explore collateral aspects to the the call centre itself: how news of its existence spread, how its use is organized, parallel activities that sprung up around it, the nocturnal opening hours it had, and so on... A summary book of the project was published by Fundación Telefónicain January 2007.