In a globalized world undergoing radical change, security has become a central issue. States and cities respond with increasingly omnipresent digital surveillance. Simultaneously, massive urbanization puts large urban centers under pressure and reveals growing social and spatial inequalities. These two elements deeply affect society’s social contract: the way we live together, the public and the private space as well as our individual rights. In a context of democratic crisis and insecurity, many people believe that a choice must be made between security and freedom, considering that an increase in one necessarily means a decrease in the other. These antagonisms intensify tensions and crystallize opposing sides, further reinforcing the social and spatial divisions of cities. In urban centers, this results in the generalization of digital surveillance devices which collect data that often remains out of the hands of local residents. The dynamics of power and influence are thus changed, affecting the trust and transparency that are essential to democracy.
In this context, we are convinced that both security and freedom are necessary. The solution is to be found in what we call COMMON GROUNDS, those physical or symbolic spaces where trust and a sense of belonging are built, which are essential to communities in order to flourish. The social contract is not built through the State’s regal constraint, nor through the mistrust and restraint of a population. It requires a common will to unite and the taking into account of everyone’s interests. Rules are accepted if they are recognized and shared, integrity and freedom are guaranteed as long as they apply to a population as a whole, without discrimination. These common grounds imply rules and rights, but also spaces that are necessary for the expression and development of the social contract.
MATZA EDGELANDS MEDELLÍN is therefore a moment of convergence and an opportunity to bring together the complementary contributions of artists, scientists and representatives of civil society around a common reflection on the future of living together.
Workshop: January 31st to February 18th 2022
Exhibition: February 19th to March 20th (opening February 18th)
Location: Medellín, Colombia
With Medellín as its first stop, MATZA EDGELANDS has invited eleven artists to explore the local social contract and imagine new formats in the dynamic yet deeply divided context of Colombian society. Drawing on the country’s recent history and the creativity and innovations that have transformed the city’s territory in recent years, COMMON GROUNDS seeks to explore the spaces of change in the urban tensions of Medellín today.
COMMON GROUNDS, a MATZA Edgelands public art intervention, was held in 2022 from January 31st to March 20th. Over 3 weeks, artists from 3 different countries (Colombia, Switzerland, and Kenya) embarked on an experiment of co-living, co-creation, and co-design on the theme of urban insecurity and the social contract. Following Te Estamos Grabando (”We are Recording You”), Edgelands’ Research Sprint on Medellín’s use of surveillance technologies, artists probed questions about how surveillance technologies shape the social contracts in Medellín. The artists used the research sprint’s outputs - a manifesto that outlines the students’ vision for an inclusive and transparent security policy - as the starting point in their art process, thus linking our prior research work to this mode of public art.
Over three weeks (January 31 - February 18), artists and researchers lived and worked together in Medellín. They spent the two first weeks exploring the neighborhood, dealing with its complexity and specificity and sharing conversations with the people in the city (inhabitants, city representatives, activists, and experts). The third week was then dedicated to producing an artwork and an exhibition setting. To host the project, the art center Bodega Comfama in the heart of Medellin was transformed into a living and working space for the participants during the residency, before becoming the exhibition space. At the end of the artistic process, the exhibit was open to the public for a month (February 18th to March 20th).