Marta Rocamora speaks about her Urban Dialogues experience and the Spirituality in Motion project
How did you first come into contact with Urban Dialogues (UD)?
I found out about the 3FF networking event. That’s where I met Miki and Sedi, the two girls I’m working with.
We came up with a cyclical process: one artist comes up with a motion that is ritualistic in her religion, such as crossing yourself in the Catholic religion. She passes it on to the next artist, who does her own creative interpretation of that motion, and then passes it on to the third artist. You end up with three interrelated works of art for each motion, and can then allow an audience the space, if they are inclined, to do interpretations themselves.
How did you come up with the idea of looking at rituals?
As both Miki and Sedi are moving image artists, we tried to find a way of linking spirituality with movement. How could the rituals we‘d chose resemble other movements? These thoughts opened everything up and got us all really excited.
How long has the process taken?
It’s taken us about 5 months. It’s been a great journey of self-reflection, particularly because I can be quite stubborn and single-minded. It was interesting to be working with people who felt just as strongly about their own work as I did about mine. It was all about emphasising the meeting point, not the deflections – about finding a method that would allow us to have individual freedom while sticking together.
What differences have you noticed between working as an individual and working as part of a group?
Sometimes being an artist is a lonely job. You’re sitting on your own and doing your thing: you’re just in your own planet. This collaboration has been an amazing experience because I’ve been seeing what two other people do with the one same ritual, including the ritual I chose. This is a very reflective process.
How much of a part do faith and belief play in your life and what role do you think art has in spiritual matters?
I was brought up Catholic but I am not a practising Catholic. Most of my spiritual life is experienced in everyday things like nature and in my relationships with people. I find my own way of praying and feel that there’s a strange magic in life. You know those crazy people who see messages on billboards, or on the bus? I’m one of them. I basically see the universe differently, so in that respect, it was really interesting to meet Miki who is a practising Jew, and to relate to somebody who has a much more, say, ‘standard’ way of experiencing her faith.
Both Sedi and Miki have done some fantastic work. Spirituality for me is when you’re having a magical time with a work of art. It is an essential human need to have a spiritual connection in whatever way we choose.
Do you feel art opens up a space to talk more freely?
I have always had a curiosity about other religions but it’s almost as if you can’t talk about religion nowadays; it’s like it is taboo – if you ask someone about their religion, they might feel like they’re being questioned too much. But Urban Dialogues created a safe space for us to be curious about the ‘other’ and this proved very fruitful. You realise that you’re much closer to each other than you think you are.
You spoke about audience participation before and a space for others to continue the art. Do you want to keep this process alive and if so, how?
We could propose it to other galleries; it’s ready, and so neatly packed. It would be great to have that space of curiosity for people to meet, to play, to ask questions.
The act of questioning has really impacted upon me. The things I question are usually political and social, like ‘why do we behave like this?’, ‘why is the world in the condition that it is?’ It feels like the work I have done with UD has finally seen a meeting point for my questioning of my social beliefs and the purely spiritual things I’ve looked at in my creative work.
Any last thoughts you’d like to add?
It’s been a fantastic experience and it’s not finished yet. I feel really supported on all levels. We are allowed to go one step up in our career development stage as artists but with the support of somebody who knows how to curate, with a good space and with 3FF being really good at promoting the event. It’s also great for me personally because I have a lot in common with Miki and Sedi. I would have never met them if it wasn’t for 3FF and the networking event.
My career is just starting to take off. In the last five/six months, I’ve given up my day job and I’ve been getting really into it because I don’t want to do anything else. Thank you guys!
Join us for Urban Dialogues 2012 at the RED Gallery in Shoreditch, 21 November – 1 December. The exhibition is open daily 2-7pm and admission is FREE. Find out more about Urban Dialogues 2012 here.