In this article I have tried to ask some of the key components of Catalan artistic and cultural scene what are the health conditions of that so-called “scene”, which has been the reference point for everybody dealing with theatre and design multimedia art.

My question was rather straight and aimed at understanding how the Catalan area situation is in fact different from that of other nations’ and whether we are actually experiencing a new “Catalan Renaissance”. My question was answered both by Carles Canellas from Rocomora Teatre and Marceì Antunez Roca, as well as by Konic collective , From that starting point a chat developed, which later on became another article for Digimag. Carles Canellas from Rocamora Teatre was the first to answer, giving a complete and extremely clear explanation to my question: “Personally I doubt we are experiencing a “Catalan Renaissance”. Apart from some very specific artists, authors and groups who are already well-known, (such as La Fura dels Baus, Calixte Bieito, Marcel·lí Antúnez, Sergi Belbel, etc. ) the field’s creativity is drying out, repeating old patterns and staging twenty-year-old shows again. The only difference is now some companies have a private and public economic support which is stronger than ever.

To tell the truth – Carles Canellas continues – new “alternative” spaces have been created in Barcelona in the last ten years. Characterized by their peculiar structure, always precaroius, they are open to any kind of proposals, many of them off the commercial theatres’ programmes, such as ” L’antic teatre - , ” la nau ivanow , ” cincomonos ” – , ” almazen , “conservas , and others. There are creation spaces too, old factories (some of them squatted by artists) facing the threat of demolition plans supported by the current building speculation, which will soon tear them down. Fortunately there are some exceptions,and people support succeeded in forcing the City Hall to go back and check the permissions and in some cases to buy the estate to protect all or at least a part of the historical industrial heritage. An example is ” hangar , ” la escocesa, while in the outskirts of Barcelona there is ” nau côclea


The two public big theatres in Barcelona have now new and “young” artistic directors who belonged to old “alternative” circuits: Sergi Belbel at Teatre Nacional , Àlex Rigola at Teatre Lliure .

The big structure of ” Mercat de les Flors - has become a space for dance and movement arts – the founder of Rocamora Teatre said to us – and the historical Teatre Romea - , which has been managed for some years by Focus, one of the biggest theatre commercial and musical production (entertainment), until a short time ago presented, under the direction of Calixte Bieito, big avant-garde works of art (they are slightly changing their artistic and managing policy).

As far as private halls are concerned, what they distribute (always supported by consistent public money contributions) is hardly interesting from an artistic and cultural point of view and it is performed by popular Catalan TV actors and actresses Something similar has happed with the old alternative halls, which have actually become small-size commercial theatres which can at their best show Latin-American playwrights and directors.

With the new Government of Generalitat (Catalan independent government) ,which turned from centre-right to a centre-left – left union, the amount of financial supports has increased three times in the last four years (though in the past the supports were so low it has not been particularly hard to increase them!). Unfortunately, the money has not been used to triplicate the activities or to support new artists; rather, those who were already known and financially supported, had their funding doubled…


We have some international productions – Carlos Canellas concludes – but they are part of some big festivals such as Grec in Barcelona - or Temporada Alta in Girona - . There are some new festivals too, bt they are not very important. Yet, I would like to point out that Festival Grec, organized by Barcelona Town Hall, has a new artistic director called Ricardo Szwarzer, an Argentinean from Buenos Aires now living in London, who has brought his great theatre experience as well as new stage tendencies with him (he was Director of Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires). After a first year of transition, we are eager to see whether he will be able to accomplish all the plans he has in mind. For the companies every time is harder to work abroad because the expenses have consistently increased and the Festivals have to face them. Yet, that is an international problem that involves everyone. On the other hand, some artists are helped by the Catalan Culture Institute “Ramon Llull” for travels abroad.

Konic Thr: The Spanish and especially Catalan scene is very active at the moment in the field of experimental stage. We are in a more specific context within the experimental creation which is the one relating the stage and new technologies. In this kind of artistic manifestation, Spain has a more recent history compared to other northern European countries such as Germany, Austria, England or Netherland. At the same time, this artistic tendency has entered very strongly and is very present in the universities with the creation of specialized masters that are forming each year young artists who specialize in these languages.   

Marcelì Antunez Roca: Tanto Konic come il sottoscritto siamo compagnie con una storia piuttosto lunga che comincia negli anni Novanta a Barcellona. Abbiamo condiviso programmatori, ingegneri e probabilmente abbiamo sperimentato temi simili. Ma non siamo compagnie giovani o nuove, siamo artisti sperimentatori, pionieri con ampio curriculum. Non sono a conoscenza degli sviluppi tecnologici a Barcellona in riferimento ai gruppi ma la mia impressione è che la maggior parte della drammaturgia si interessi delle nuove tecnologie come drammaturgia dell’immagine o drammaturgia del moviment e poco di “sistematurgia” o drammaturgia tecnologica. Ma questa è un’opinione che deriva da una mia percezione molto particolare e può darsi che sia sbagliata.

Dal punto di vista dell’appoggio istituzionale si è avuto un cambio di parametri che facilitano in un certo modo i modelli di produzione e distribuzione delle opere. Il Dipartimento di Cultura della Generalitat della Catalogna ha avuto infatti un cambio di segno rispetto al modello che avevamo in precedenza, e da appena 3 anni favorisce attraverso aiuti economici, la ricerca, la produzione e la distribuzione delle opere. Ma molto resta ancora da fare.


Annamaria Monteverdi: What are the festivals that usually host technological works?

Konic Thr: In Barcelona there are several festivals that show work related to technology. The most interesting ones are Art Futura and the festival IDN (Festival International of Dance and New Media) organized by NU2′s.

Marcelì Antunez Roca: La situazione della regione catalana in particolare della città di Barcellona, contrariamente alla tendenza in atto di fornire supporti economici, oggi è poco dotata di spazi per una drammaturgia diversa, ha buoni teatri per la prosa in catalano e buoni spazi per la danza e la drammaturgia del movimento. Non c’è uno spazio però dove si mostrano regolarmente i lavori delle compagnie. Ci stiamo organizzando per risolvere questo problema. Il festival NEO di Barcelona puntava su questo tipo di drammaturgia ma non è certo che possa proseguire. Qualche festival e alcuni spazi programmano occasionalmente spettacoli tecnologici come Art Futura, talvolta SONAR e l’Escorxador Teatre della città di Lerida, etc.

Sonar è un evento chiaramente commerciale legato alla musica techno con una sezione di Media Art, ma con un interesse quasi nullo per la sistematurgia e la drammaturgia tecnologica. Lo spazio di creazione l’Animal a L’Esquena mostra una certa sensibilità al tema,, così come il centro di produzione l’Hangar e eventualmente lo spazio di esposizione CASM… In ogni caso il panorama non è molto positivo.


Annamaria Monteverdi:  Have you got a permanent place to experiment and interact with other artists in Barcelona? Have you got a digital art network in Catalonia?

Konic Thr: We do not have a stable place in which to develop work in Barcelona, and this is a serious problem when
working with technlogy as it means that we have to carry around and setup some delicate equipment everytime we are working on a piece, this is a problem for most artists working in this city and the way we go around it is by finding residencies in different production spaces around the city and also internationally.  For us it is an additional problem since we have opted for research, development and innovation as an independent initiative that we are, wishing to bring new languages to the contemporary scene. This implies a constant negotiation with the public administration, which do not seem to see the contribution this type of project is bringing and they assume very little risk as far as they are concerned.

Since 2004 we have a direct link with the creation centre L’Animal a l’Esquena in Celrá (Catalunya), as artists in residence, where we realize research and creation labs. We are at the moment participating as invited artists in the inter european project called Absent Interface (2007-2010). We also have established relations of collaboration with various universities of Catalunya to develop part of the creation and research processes we undertake.

Marcelì Antunez Roca: Ho la mia famiglia a Barcellona e il mio studio, Barcelona è una easy city per molti aspetti, ma troppo turistica per altri. C’è una tendenza come in tutta Europa del resto a compiacere un pubblico borghese e a difendere il politicaly correct, la nuova religione dela cultura europea. Io ho qua la mia equipe, lavoro nel mio studio e cerco di mostrare il mio lavoro in forma globale, in tutto il mondo. Certamente Barcellona ha una buona comunicazione grazie al turismo e un certo orgoglio di città del popolo (Catalogna), il clima è migliore di Parigi e Londra ma non è affatto la Mecca della tecnologia. D’altra parte, che senso ha enfatizzare gli aspetti locali quando ci sono reti come Internet??


Annamaria Monteverdi: Is there a network or a cooperation platform for independent productions?

Konic Thr: Catalunya is a place where associotionism is very strong and there are networks emerging in Barcelona and in Catalunya that are trying to give a wider space to new forms of artistic expression that involve research in arts and non conventional forms of live arts. We hope that we can make pressure on the politicians to make some changes in our situation, and get some better working conditions.

Marcelì Antunez Roca: Da una settimana è stata creata l’associazione di artisti di scena che dovrebbe riunire tutte le proposte di scena tecnologica, di movimento, dell’immagine, ma è ancora in fase di definizione.

Annamaria Monteverdi: What do you reckon are the most significant experiences in current Catalan scene regarding those electronic arts (though not exclusively) which are linked to theatre/performance art?

Konic Thr: Marce.lì Antunez, Sergi Jordà anche se sono pochi i coreografi che hanno sede stabile qua; potrei citarti alcuni artisti: Cesc Gelabert, Toni Mirà, Angels Margarit che svolgono progetti in collaborazione con artisti interattivi; è un cambiamento non così rapido perché il valore del testo nel teatro catalano è molto forte e quindi le convenzioni teatrali impediscono una rapida evoluzione.

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