Lesson plan: European experimentation promotes a space in which it is possible to work towards an observation of Europe. By reviewing the documentary photographic work of different authors and times – which play a relevant role in the construction of the visual imagery of our modern history and of Europe nowadays – throughout May 2016 a series of exercises were designed in order to work along angroup of schools, high schools and sociocultural associations based in Barcelona.
The purpose: to tell about and feel part of the European Union from within its context On what ideas have based the image we have of the European Union? What role do photography, video and documents have in our mental and physical construction of the European Union? This lesson gave place to a group experience in which we tried to explore and analyze the visual references we have of the European Union.
The results of this collective experience were part of the exhibition Myths of the Near Future , curated by Natasha Christia for the Docfield16 festival at Arts Santa Mònica (from 19 July to 11 September) in the form of a temporary installation. My role was to establish a dialogue between the stories and representations of Europe developed by the participants and my own work.
The first stage of work with the participants took place at Arts Santa Mònica’s Espai Lab along with Mireia Plans and Alice Montiel of the education department Photographic Social Vision, from 26 to 31 May 2016 in four-hour sessions that were organized into three modules (M1: Location, space and ubiquity; M2: Time, history and memory; and M3: Collective processes) that included four exercises.
Part 1: Location, space and ubiquity In the first part of Lesson plan: European Experimentation two exercises, focused on locating us within Europe, were carried out. The first exercise involved drawing a map of Europe on an A4 sheet, while exercise 2 focused on finding where we were in that map and naming the countries that form the EU.
Yellow books 1 and 2 contain the original conclusions of these exercises.
Part 2: Time, history and memory During part 2 we started looking into the visual history of how Europe began by analyzing different contemporary photographic projects. We then carried out an open activity using images and texts taken from the press. A mural was created afterwards using all the original documents that resulted from this second part of the activity.
Part 3: Collective processes In this last part, we looked at different educational spaces and collective work processes linked to photography from different parts of Europe and other countries. Some examples of these include the Farm Security Administration (FSA), which was set up in the United States between 1929 and 1935, the Misiones pedagógicas (Pedagogical Missions) of the Second Spanish Republic between 1931 and 1939, Mass Observation in the United Kingdom between 1937 and 1950, Talleres de fotografía Social (Social Photography Workshops) –Tafos- in Peru between 1986 and 1998, among others. Within this part of the program, the exercise included a one to two minute long smartphone recording made by each of the participants addressing issues regarding their relation with Europe from their personal contexts and using materials they had within reach. We then edited these videos to make one collective video with the help of Leticia Tojar.
Extra Part: Continuum mass media
When the exhibit opened to the public we decided to use a 28-inch screen to screen a live recording of European news broadcasts from public and private TV channels available on their web pages. The resulting visual document was used to develop new exercises that will be reproduced in other spaces during future editions of Lesson plan: European experimentation.