Apr 11

The secondary school as a rule-based system, at the heart of the ‘contamination’ session at the Infanta Isabel de Aragó secondary school

Within the framework of Tanit Plana’s creation process, the students share the changes in their perception of the secondary school with their teachers.

- Mum, we’re not allowed to play in the school playground.
- No? So what do you do?
- We just walk around in circles.

This dialogue forms one of the starting points of the creation process led by Tanit Plana iN RESiDENCE at the Institut Infanta Isabel de Aragón secondary school in this year’s edition. On Wednesday, 2 March, the educational centre’s assembly hall was full, with the entire team of 4th-year teachers called to attend the ‘contamination’ session, scheduled as a transfer space, halfway through the process.

The session was implemented through various actions, performances and installations. Two large-format photographic compositions (nine metres long by one metre wide) were displayed on one of the walls of the multi-purpose space. The black and white images, taken by Tanit Plana, showed moments during the creation process which is being developed with the youngsters. At the opposite end of the space, at the back of the stage, a video loop was projected in the style of an animated GIF, in which a hamster runs around a never-ending wheel.

This was the staging presented to the teachers who participated in the ‘contamination’ session. When they came to sit down and enjoy the activity, they were asked not to use the chairs where various hula hoops were placed, and which would have a leading role later.

From then onwards, everything that the students showed was connected with one of the actions they are carrying out in their artistic research project: measurements and how to measure. Over the last few months, the young artists have been taking measurements of their own bodies, hands, feet, shoulders... as well as the school building, their classroom, its walls and chairs. This has helped them to reflect on how the educational centre is designed, and through these explorations to understand what kind of rules there are behind the conception of space in their secondary school.

This research is what prompted the projection of the hamster running around in circles in a perpetual wheel. Because, as the students expressed, sometimes the secondary school system evokes this image. However, they wanted to make it clear that this is not always the case, and they also highlighted many other positive aspects of their experience at the centre.

For example, one day, they spent a whole night all together at the school, with Tanit and Esther Villanueva, their teacher, a guide in this creation process. This allowed them to see space from a different perspective, to get to know the centre better, and to cultivate their bond with the secondary school.

Before concluding, the ‘contamination’ session featured dances and choreographies led by the students and performed by the teachers; along with some funny moments in which the teachers were able to experiment with the proposal using the hula hoops, where the students suggested that they had to enter.

The subsequent dialogue, with a great deal of participation from the youngsters and adults alike, revolved around this research into both society and the secondary school’s rule-based system. The students highlighted that, thanks to Tanit Plana’s residence, they are learning to think, not only about school but also about the family, the world that surrounds them and public space. Reflections and thoughts that have been compiled into a publication of texts and images, which was handed around among the teachers throughout the entire session.

Tanit Plana’s work, iN RESiDENCE at the Institut Infanta Isabel de Aragón with the teacher, Esther Villanueva and the 4th-year student group continues, with the curatorship and coordination of A Bao A Qu. If you would like to know how this artistic creation process is going, don’t miss their blog.