Public Program

  • Nothing Out of the Ordinary: a space for art, celebration, acknowledgement and sancocho in the barrio La Palomera
    Elisa Silva

Documentation of “Nothing Out of the Ordinary,” featuring projection by video artists Michael Zerpa and Maria Fernanda Abzueta, The Center for Art & Culture (Casa de Todos Annex) in Caracas, Venezuela, October 12, 2019. Photo: Enlace Foundation

The Center for Art & Culture (Casa de Todos Annex) in Caracas, Venezuela, is sited in a dilapidated structure currently under renovation, in the barrio La Palomera. Nothing Out of the Ordinary is a parallel cultural program that not only guides the transformation of the space, but also engages citizens in the projection of an integrated city through art, culture, and celebration. The opportunity stems from a program led by Enlace Foundation, Ciudad Laboratorio, and a multidisciplinary team that tackled the stigma associated with barrios by inviting participation in walking tours, music, art, workshops, and celebrations. These activations encouraged the acknowledgement of the barrio as an essential part of the city, and elements of this experience are presented at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennial (2021). The next step in this process of recognition is to create a permanent platform to continue strengthening a conversation about urban inclusion. Communities such as La Palomera have not been sufficiently, nor fairly, addressed in urban public policy. The Center for Art & Culture is an enticing, accessible, and engaging platform for stimulating a more inclusive appreciation of citizenship and the right to the city. Art and culture, produced together with the community, can help make these complex notions palpable, in addition to celebrating local knowledge and promoting grassroots understandings of the urban territory as a complete city.

Elisa Silva is an architect and she received her master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is director and founder of Enlace Arquitectura and Enlace Foundation. Projects include Integration Process Caracas, a cultural and educational initiative that encourages audiences to challenge stigmas associated with barrio communities, funded by the US Embassy in Venezuela. Silva has been the recipient of the Rome Prize, the Wheelwright Fellowship, and a Graham Foundation grant for the publication Pure Space: Expanding the Public Sphere through Public Space Transformations in Latin American Spontaneous Settlements (Actar, 2020). She teaches architecture at Princeton University, the University of Toronto, and Florida International University.

Cheo Carvajal is director of Ciudad Laboratorio, a transdisciplinary team that promotes an integrated, sustainable, and safe city from a social, urban, environmental, and economic perspective, through research and action. He is a journalist from the Central University in Venezuela, with a master’s in design and public space from the Elisava School of Design, Barcelona. He has written extensively on pedestrian mobility; leads the Caracas by Night initiative, an observatory of collective monitoring and night activation; is the creator of El Calvario Open Doors; and is professor of the Diploma in Design and Social Innovation at the Catholic University and Prodiseño School of Design in Caracas.

María Virginia Millán is an architect from the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela, where she became interested in the right to the city and the integration of barrios. Millán participated in the research of public space case studies in spontaneous settlements of Latin America for the publication Pure Space: Expanding the Public Sphere through Public Space Transformations in Latin American Spontaneous Settlements (Actar, 2020). She has presented lectures and participated in talks on the acknowledgement of the barrio as part of the city. In the Integration Process Caracas program, she promoted and coordinated the exchanges between artists and the community, and is currently the lead architect on in the renovation project of the Center for Art and Culture in La Palomera.

Gerardo Zavarce is cofounder of Ciudad Laboratorio. He is a researcher, promoter, and advisor in the area of culture. He has a degree in arts from the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and has been professor of the sociology of art, sociocultural reality analysis, aesthetic, and community service seminar at the UCV School of Arts. He serves as an advisor to the Nelson Garrido Organization and is curatorial codirector of The Contemporary Art Annex. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Zulia. Since 2011, Zavarce has coordinated the Sensitive Learning program of the International Art Fair of Caracas.