Thursday, May 23, 2019

Can Serrat, El Bruc, Catalonia, 23 May 2019


The two weeks have been busy, Can Serrat Residency hosted a day of experimentation at the El Bruc town hall, ran a day trip to Barcelona for a gallery opening at one residency space and an open mic at another. A book club was also organized, as well as multiple paella (paellas?) cooked.

I’ve also managed to make progress on three chapters of the book, Tomas Brown, past Canberran and another of the residents here, translated six of my poems into Spanish and I’ve managed to get feedback on my work as well as provide input into Tomas’s writing project.

The experimentation day on my first weekend here involved a past resident’s work, and building three concurrent narratives from images they supplied while using simple scripts, then turning those into a film. The process took up the entire day for selecting different images, then arranging them. It was a bit hard to follow for me so I am probably missing a bit, I’d only just arrived and was adjusting to the different languages being spoken.* But it was a fun process to watch and I found a way to engage with it alongside some of the other residents who were similarly on the fringe of the event. It was one of those days that will percolate and maybe something creative will come out of it, but even if it doesn’t it was useful to see all the visuals of past Can Serrat residents.


During last week all the residents of Can Serrat travelled to Barcelona for a day and night of engaging with other residencies, we first went to a gallery space and residency called La Place for a Q&A regarding the installation there. Three hexagon tubes were suspended from the ceiling, you could stand up into each of them and a sound would play while (it was explained to us) a smell was released - I completely missed the smells. There was also an abundance of rock salt all over the ground that made a very satisfying crunching sound as people walked on it. The gallery doubles as the work-space while upstairs is were the resident lives. They are looking for people to apply to undertake residencies and exhibitions, and sound installations are one of the things they are about.

The next stop in Barcelona was an open mic at the now closed Jiwar Barcelona Residency. The open mic was a chance for all the current Can Serrat residents to present some of their work, and we heard poetry from one of the past Jiwar residents. My favourite part of the experience was hearing poetry in Catalan, I’ve heard poetry in Spanish before, and in French, but to hear a Catalan poet perform work he’d written about locations in Barcelona was a first for me; the space was excellent too, we were in the back garden of the Jiwar Residency surrounded by apartment buildings, so we had to finish by 8pm out of consideration for the neighbours.

We had a book club this Tuesday gone too; all the residents were asked to read a passage from what they were currently reading or present something that had influenced them. I can’t check the book out of the library here as I don’t have membership (I walk up to the library each day to read), so instead I read Ron Padgett’s The Fortune Cookie Factory, it was the first poem by someone else that I performed and it has stayed with me since I first read it in the Bible of American Outlaw Poetry. We each provided context for our reading and the group then discussed it. This discussion was pretty wandering and interesting as we explored some of the concepts behind the different residents’ work, my favourite discussion centred on the positives and negatives of deconstructing people’s beliefs (to way over summarize).

I will write a about where my project is at in part two of this post, as well as how I’ve interacted with the work of some of the other residents. Until then, here is a photograph of one of the permanent residents, he was sick when I arrived, and so pretty stand-offish, but after a dose of antibiotics he has become really talkative and keen to hang with us temporary residents.


* When I was here in 2014 the majority of residents were from English speaking countries, so it was pretty comfortable. This time while everyone speaks English, the majority of people are from Spanish and French speaking countries and it has taken a couple of days to adjust to hearing those two languages so frequently.

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