At the age of twenty-three, Nicolás Paris (b. Bogotá, 1977) moved to the town of La Macarena in central Colombia to work as a teacher in a rural school where he developed experimental educational techniques. Paris also worked as a baker for a time, drawn to the anarchist tradition of recovering traditional trades. After these formative periods, he decided to “relocate” to the contemporary art world and continue to speculate with the experiences he had acquired in the classroom, at the bread ovens, and during his years as an architecture student.
His installations, drawings, objects, workshops, happenings, videos, and educational projects are never presented as finished products. Instead, they are a springboard for collective creation exercises intended to activate new ways of knowing and relating. Paris approaches exhibition spaces as classrooms in which the artist, like the teacher, learns to communicate and interact with a heterogeneous audience. An audience that plays a key role, because it decides how, and how far, to get involved and take advantage of the creative process.
In this podcast, Nicolás Paris talks about his years as a teacher in La Macarena and his particular teaching method based on association. He also reflects on the importance of drawing in his work as a tool for projecting ideas, on architecture as a working method, on words as artistic material, and on thought as form. By recounting the story of his participation in the 2015 Havana Biennial, Paris illustrates the erratic, ephemeral, utopian, and poetic nature of his projects.
00:00 Art and education: experiments to be together
02:31 The word "school". The years as a teacher at La Macarena
05:21 From Bogotá to La Macarena
07:30 From punk to the institution. I was the institution
10:03 School, skholè, leisure
11:17 Exploring interests. Not specialising. Trial and error
16:09 Learning to read and write. Stories around the fire. From experience to concept
27:56 Peace dialogues. Return to Bogotá. A trade: baker
30:15 La Macarena. Teaching research group. PEI
36:00 Making the move to contemporary art
37:32 Exhibition places. Classroom space. The spectator decides what to learn
39:12 Art: exchanging reflections, knowledge-building experiences, unstable situations
42:08 The studio, words, and thinking as creative strategies
44:44 Architecture as a working method. Thinking in terms of space
47:44 Erratic microevents. 12th Havana Biennial. The revolution is in the mind
52:25 Art, trust, utopias, and learning