concept: “Dar lugar” Public Space

“Dar Lugar”, Resisting the Current Model of Museum

CCCB, Barcelona 2015

Prize on Public Space, mention

“DAR LUGAR” (give space/give rise to things) The project consists of creating an annual programme based on a new museum model called “dar lugar”, and of working with the CCCB team to adapt and apply the theoretical model presented here to the reality of the CCCB through practical initiatives. The end result will be a document that will serve as the foundation for future programming at the CCCB. During the production period, the centre will function as a public square, and instead of programming, it will “dar lugar” (give space, give rise to things).

The Spanish term “dar lugar” refers to the idea of provoking or giving rise to something, of making something happen. The expression uses a word related to the idea of space (“lugar” or “place”), along with the word “dar” which means “to give”. As such, it unites the concepts of giving and place, suggesting that the act of giving is an integral part of creating space. The difference between place and space is that space exists even if nothing is happening in it. We call a space a place when it has a recognisable human element; a square or plaza is a place, for example. Our city can either be a place or a space. The city (as a place) enables extensive relationships with strangers, beyond family relations. Audiences are always in a familiar space, their presence is referential rather than political. To talk about audiences (“el público”) is to deny the public sphere (“lo público”). An audience evokes spectacle, the private realm; the public sphere is that which has no audience. The “dar lugar” museum model gives rise to making something happen; it precipitates, it does not hand out (charity) or offer (commerce). The current museum model is not based on giving but on “offering” (activities, experiences, exhibitions, etc…) In the act of offering, it treats audiences like clients, and culture like a service. In other words, the existing museum model is a commercial model.

At the spatial level, the place (lugar) that best embodies this idea of “dar lugar” is the public square or plaza. In contrast to the pre-programmed space and time of existing art centres, the public square is an open (source) model; in other words, it is a space based on how people (audiences) use it and not on the programming. This means that the activity of an art centre based on this model would emerge from the people, from their moods, rather than from predefined activities. This is the model of parks and squares (when they are public spaces). They are open or have multiple access, and they give rise to unexpected relationships and unplanned meetings. Parks don’t have rules that tell people where to go, they are not for circulating, they are for strolling. The public square implies human presence, while a centre can be a node, a nexus or an enclave of some kind, even if nobody inhabits it.



© Jana Leo 2014