Wow… we got to Season Three in the series of Monegros artist residencies dedicated to artists needing to build, or finalize their pre-build of artwork participating to the Nowhere festival in the Monegros every summer. Let’s step back for a second to see how we got here…
How it all started
The first instalment of the artist residency project dedicated to artists participating to the Nowhere festival – and building something – happened back in 2015, when the Temple Crew of Temple of Reflexion spent an entire week working in the city of Sariñena, with the support of many local businesses as well as local residents. It was an idea by longtime participant, co-creator, artist and builder Burningmax, carried out through the Growing Nowhere network, whose prime goal is to allow the max interchange and connection between the international community of creative souls flying to Monegros every year from the four corners of the world, and the local, vibrant, and culturally strong community of Monegros residents. Read our first ever blog post for details.
At that point it the artist residency project was just in its beta version, a sort of pilot experience, but it worked incredibly well. Sariñena’s residents loved to see the temple being build day by day, Nowhere loved the sacred space built for it community, the Temple of Reflexion Crew loved the support received during the build, but most of all loved to work in a non-harsh, non-dusty, fully powered and shaded environment, with hardware store, supermarkets and bars just round the corner. And a bed and a shower to go back to after a full day+night of build. Growing Nowhere as organizer (and part of the Temple Crew) loved to facilitate all kind of local logistics and relationships, so that the Temple Crew focused on building the beautiful Temple. That was the spirit and the reason for organizing the artist residency, so… nailed it! We shared the entire adventure back then, with plenty of pictures and details, in this blog post, in case you are curious (and missed the previous big link).
Let’s give “this thing” a name
Of course the following year we wanted to do it again, and we decided to go bigger – bigger space, bigger local network and possibly more artists to support. This is when the Ayuntamiento de Sariñena gave Growing Nowhere the full support with an official patronage, and with access to the biggest space suitable for building art that the city of Sariñena has to offer: the entire complex of Femoga, the trade show area used for the famous Monegros fair dedicated to agriculture, farming, industrial machineries and more. This is when we decided to give the residency project a name, and we think we nailed that too. MARS – Monegros Artist Residency Sessions was born, and it was already at its second “season”. You’ll find an article announcing the residency here.
Back in 2016 the residency project managed to host four projects: a couple of small playa projects, the complete transformation of a camper van into an art car, plus the pre-build operations (mostly gathering of materials and tools) for the Nowhere 2016 Temple, the Temple of Self. While the small projects and the art car were effectively completed in the functional and comfortable working space of Femoga, the Temple of Self Crew decided to use the residency only for a couple of days, just to assemble team, materials and tools, and preferred to do the actual build on the playa.
Ehmmm… their loss… the Temple of Self was never completed, as the build operations bumped into several critical issues that could have been solved easily doing the pre-build in Sariñena, while in the harsh desert of Nowhere ended up definitely into dead ends. In their defence, the reasons why the Temple Crew decided to go straight to the playa was also because, being the core element of the structure a big trunk of a tree, it would have been difficult to transport it from Sariñena to Nowhere after starting working on it. Plus the crew came in real late, so they wouldn’t had the time to pre-build and then build again. Bad planning! Good planning for us at Growing Nowhere, and the first successful experience in supporting more than one project for Nowhere at the same time, also finally finding the perfect place where to build art in Sariñena after a long search, and with the full support from Monegros’ local institutions.
A little break before Season 3
Rather than scaling up again the artist residency the following year, Growing Nowhere took a couple of years off (also because Burningmax was too busy on a big land art installations project in the Monegros, the Orwell Monegros Project), but we came back again this year with a new Nowhere artist residency project in Sariñena, MARS Season three!
It took us a lot to finally put up a blog post telling the story of our latest artist residency in Sariñena, because right after Nowhere Burningmax got busy again, with an amazing team of burners from all around the world, working in Rome on a large scale interactive piece of “activism art” (artivism), the H2O Project – a project that, by the way, might be on its way to come to the Monegros next year. But this is another story, we’ll talk about it soon…
So here we are, finally sharing the beautiful experience that MARS Season 3 has been. This year we even secured an entire apartment in Sariñena to host a big build crew, while other participants to the residency session, traveling with their own camper vans (including with kids), preferred to stay stationary at Femoga, the space that the Ayuntamiento de Sariñena, endorsing and supporting the project again in full, kindly offered for the residency project. We also had plenty of local support: from the management of FEMOGA to our friends at the local hardware/tool company López – Marín, but also big thank you to the local construction works company ATC Albas Tierz Constructora, who lent us a massive scaffolding system for a couple of weeks, and to our friends at Agrupación de Voluntarios de Protección Civil de Los Monegros, always available for support, or just strolling by to say hi. Thank you to the entire Monegros!
But most of all, thank you to the projects hosted at MARS 2019, and to their Crews. In order of arrival, and with plenty of photo-galleries:
Tree of Love / Tree of Life
The Tree of Love project (also addressed as Tree of Life) has been the first project to arrive in Sariñena, the larger crew hosted by MARS 2019, and the Nowhere art project where also Growing Nowhere was involved deeply, since day one of planning and all along the road, including for the entire build stage, both in Sariñena and on the playa. The project team, led by dutch burner Arlo Leibowitz (also team leader for the Temple of Transition 2015), had volunteers from all over the world: Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Latvia, Israel, South Africa and the United States and included many of the Temple Crew volunteers from the Temple of Reflexion project for Nowhere 2015. With such a variety of spirits, the almost two weeks of build in Sarinena have been a very exciting rollercoaster of adrenaline, creativity, community and the occasional burnout, which is pretty much a given in all major burners projects.
The Tree of Love stood fierce and mystical in the middle of the playa at Nowhere in the Monegros desert landscape, and for lack of a more suitable sacred space such a playa temple, it has also been the venue of a couple of weddings during the Nowhere days. The installation would have been the perfect sustainable artwork to burn, in the Burning Man fashion, since it has been made entirely using only bamboo, river canes and natural rope, no one single nail, plastic or paint element – besides the light system, that could have been pulled off in case of burn. But unfortunately fires are banned in summertimes across the entire Spain, so the installation has been tear down with a couple of days of work. Great job!
Affirmatree (aka Tree of Life)
Affirmatree, originally named Tree of Life, is a project by a creative dutch-american family that it’s a crew in itself. Bibi, Josh and their three kids and little explorer joined MARS 2019 with a project that has been build entirely from scratch in Sariñena, not without a few side problems in the process, including their camper van’s transmission breaking down, and the only way to get the vary rare spare part was ordering it in the UK and getting it shipped to Sariñena.
Entirely created out of broken abandoned furniture and other recycled materials that ranged from cans and metal scraps to tissues, buttons and even little toys and action figures, Affirmatree is a positive affirmation to the culture of recycling, upcycling and permaculture, and a perfect chillout spot geared up with its own light setup, a nice touch on the playa at Nowhere 2019. After the Monegros in the last few months, the installation has participated to other events across Europe, and is now possibly looking at a definitive placement within an art park in the UK.
Entidades Vegetales is an ongoing series of painting projects from Madrid-based street artist Cecilia Llamas, street art name Enllama. Cecilia joined MARS 2019 also to help out with the production of the Tree of Love, being part of the Tree of Love project crew while “warming up” for Nowhere, leaving a few of her subtle street art interventions marks across Sarinena and the surrounding Monegros area.
At Nowhere 2019 Cecilia pushed up the scale of her painting interventions, by taking over the entire kitchen block of Ubertown and one of the containers of The Garden of Joy, two of the major sound system camps at Nowhere. Here below is just a small photo gallery, but you can find all of her work in the Monegros and around the world at her Instagram page @_enllama.
Orwell Monegros 2019 Remix
Homenaje a Los Monegros is a site-specific land art installation created by Burningmax back in 2017 in the Ruta Orwell, the trenches of the Spanish civil war in the Alcubierre mountains where George Orwell fought back in 1936, and is part of the wider Orwell Monegros Project, that included also a site-specific installation for the museum CDAN in Huesca (Centro de Arte y Naturaleza), dedicated to the promotion of land art. The project has been fully supported by all major local institutions, including the Ayuntamiento fo Alcubierre, Diputación Provincial De Huesca, and Comarca Monegros, and has received a full endorsement by the UK-based foundation The Orwell Society, whose president is the son of the British writer and freedom fighter.
The art installation in the Orwell trenches was originally created by using natural red pigments designed to last four years in the Monegros environment before fading away (more info here), but Burningmax went too conservative with the concentration of pigment so, barely two years after the original work of land art, the pigment intervention was already almost all faded off. The installation definitely needed a new input, a 2019 remix, to last for another two years as originally intended. The new intervention in the Orwell trenches has been planned and carried out during the artist residence days of MARS 2019, also with the support of long time friend and fellow resident artist Cecilia Llama, here is a small photo gallery, but you can see a full photo gallery at the last blog post of the Orwell Monegros Project site.
This ended up being a loooooooooong post, but we are glad we did it, after the two years of silence from Growing Nowhere, and because Season 3 of the MARS residency project has been awesome. MARS Season 4? We’ll let you know something about soon, just stay tuned with Growing Nowhere and the incredibly creative environment propelled by the Nowhere festival.