Barcelona inspires a lot of unexpected initiatives – check.
Barcelona is famous for its artistic heritage, which makes it the fourth most visited city in Europe – check.
Barcelona is a forward-thinking, innovative artistic metropolis – I believe so. Check!
“There are a lot of things to improve and to dream about, but Barcelona is an artistic city with the remarkable energy in the air” – says Mertxe Hernàndez, director and founder of WeArt festival in Barcelona. After the first week of the festival, which will take place for an entire month, we are sitting next to the newly opened Culture Center of BCN and chatting about the needs of our artistic city, about the creativity and its barriers, and about the art, of course.
WeArt is a festival, started by Mertxe Hernàndez and Soledad Arismendi last year. Today, in only its second edition, WeArt events take place in nine different locations, involve 150 artworks of multicultural artists, cover nine different disciplines and last for an entire month.
WeArt is more than just an exposition of artwork. The main aim of the festival is to expose those artists, who may have never received a chance to showcase their art to the public. WeArt is searching for unique individuals, for whom attendance to the art fair is still just a dream: “Once you belong to an art gallery, it is easier to gain attention and publicity. But with the economical situation we are living in right now, way too few creative souls may win this opportunity. And that’s where WeArt steps in” – says Mertxe.
“It seems, that WeArt is something in between an art fair and a social initiative. Is it true?”
“Obviously WeArt involves some social aspects. To name few, we are working with the emerging artists only, entire WeArt internal organizing team are volunteers; moreover, the venues, experts, publishers and many other institutions are participating without any economical return or even an expectation. I am honestly proud and grateful to each of them” – says the organizer of WeArt.
This year the theme of the festival is Subversion.
“Subversion is a fight which one starts because a better future is his leading goal. We give freedom to an artist to initiate this fight in defining the issue himself. Then we showcase those who have something important to say.
In this way they we remind that art shouldn’t be just something beautiful. It has its unique ability to sand for the values and to uncover the wounds of society.”
With the aim to create as much publicity as possible for the worlds young artists want to say to the citizens, WeArt is a totally free initiative. None of the openings or performances costs a single Euro. “We want to inspire a dialog not only with those, who have a natural interest in art and are visiting all events anyway. We want to become notable by local people or city guests, who might not think or be aware of art as a message, but are members of the same society. We wish to encourage artists to talk with them and the society – to listen.” – says Mertxe.
What does Barcelona have to subvert? – I ask Mertxe, who does not lack optimism and enthusiasm not only during the conversation, but also every time I see her: “it is an amazing, artistic and creative city. People are beautiful. Art and inspiration is in the air. But there are quite some aspects of fear and insufficiency to fix.”
What score you would give to Barcelona as creative and artistic city?
“An 8” – she concludes after a brief pause. “Those two missing points are not for the WeArt participants or those who appreciate the initiative of art without expecting anything back. They are for those who have a power to take decisions, but use it in a way, so that initiatives like this would be more difficult become a reality.”
Even though WeArt is this year proud to showcase pieces of 150 international artists, who, compared with last year grew up in terms of number, diversity, techniques, places of origin, the festival was able to grow itself independently. This year WeArt involves more venues, more art styles, a wider public and increasing media presence.
Is Barcelona ready for such initiatives? I mean, not only artists, but the venues, citizens, visitors, passengers…?
“In terms of creativity this city is ready for a long time. You cannot not notice these artistic vibes in the air. To venues I would like to dedicate my compliments too. From this new beautiful building, open to the public for free (referring to the Centre Cultural del Born), to the little art centers or galleries as Miscelánea, I had the pleasure to collaborate with people who are more than professionals. There are many humans here who have passion for what they do and they will put so much energy to spray it much wider. And all the rest just needs time…” – she smiles optimistically.
“Mertxe, so if both, environment and people, are prepared so well already, maybe there is no need to improve anything anymore? Can you still name things that Barcelona is missing to be deservedly called an artistic city? What is your vision of an ideal artistic city?”
“Overall understanding of art as a need is a main issue – it does refer to citizens, government, sponsors. To me, street art is always a very vital example. It is an activity that faces so many restrictions, but to me it is one of the most beautiful kinds of creativity. On the other hand, probably that’s why it is so – street artists are forced to be extremely creative, to find their ways, to bypass the rules and appear with the best they can.
After all, creativity and good vibes are the crucial criteria. Once this is definite defined, there will always be those who create and those who appreciate.
That’s what I wish for you, Mertxe. To always find a synergy of both.