How can contemporary, participative art be used as a powerful tool to bring change into the social structure? A specific situation in social need is the base to build participative arts as these react to it. The site-specific resources available are the artistic materials, used to bring about an increase of mental health, economic, cultural and social value. The artist functions as a mediator between the public and the arts.
Humanity has been the main focus throughout the history of art. Humankind is also the main topic and instrument of Mahmoud Saleh Mohammadi's art. A single person or “individual consciousness” is a part of his/her society and of a community or “collective consciousness”. Being part of this society, the artist creates a collective work of art, realized as a site-specific installation. This influences the individual well-being of the participants, which will spread and subsequently increase their happiness.
In 2014 Mahmoud Saleh Mohammadi founded Spazio Nour: a creative lab in Milan aimed to promote a dialogue between visual, performative and relational art.
Located in a difficult area of the city, the building in which Spazio Nour stands was known to be theatre of crime, delinquency and degradation; the artist's main purpose was to give this place a renewed life, encouraging a conscious co-existence among people
from different backgrounds and cultures.
The creation of this space was conceived as a work of art in itself, an organism in progress hosting exhibitions, events, artistic residencies and workshops socially engaged, intended to overcome mistrust and difference barriers.
Spazio Nour became a place where art and context are inextricably connected and can be considered as a sign of how even from a fracture beauty can arise.
Open Laboratory Weeks
During this performance in the framework of the Open Laboratory Weeks for the department Body and Material Reinvented of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerpen, the participants were submerged in an experience with the emphasis on the feeling of a collective consciousness.
They encountered feelings of togetherness and belonging, of each individual consciousness being part of a bigger collective consciousness by focusing on four senses all together at the same time: hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling.
The workshop functions as a reproduction of the process of Mahmoud's social-participatory arts inside (parts of) the society, to show how big their impact really is.
Photos: Wannes Cré
Art Residency Riabitare con l'Arte, Fossa, L'Aquila
In 2011, a devastating earthquake destroyed a big part of the small villages of which L’Aquila in the province Abruzzo in Italy consists of. Ten years later, the people are still reconstructing their houses one by one. Ten years later, the people are still living in temporary houses on less than a kilometre away from their former houses. Each day, they look from down in the valley up to what used to be their village higher on the hill.
The passing of the time brings its own problems along. People are getting older, younger people are moving to the big cities to search opportunities, the villages are going to be more and more empty. Houses that are renovated again, stay empty because the people don’t want to move back alone. It takes a whole group to build a community, to create the feeling of a home.
The paradisal outlook of the landscape carries the burden of a lot of sadness from locals, who keep their spirits up high and their hearts warm. During the summer months, a local organisation invited thirteen artists, amongst which Mahmoud Saleh Mohammadi, for a community building project, to organise participative artworks together with all the neighbours.