Featured People: Nicolai Chirnev and Laura Popplow

Medialab Prado hosts residencies for ECF grantees: Nicolai Chirnev and Laura Popplow

Following on from receiving the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture, Madrid-based Medialab-Prado are hosting two residencies this month for ECF’s R&D grantees, Nicolai Chirnev (pictured right) and Laura Popplow (pictured left, photo by Julio Albarrán).

Medialab-Prado is a digital platform and physical workspace where people with different skills and knowledge come together to access and build digital commons in Madrid, across Spain and the global media sphere. Through workshops, participatory events and modes of collaborative action, Medialab-Prado has been among the front-runners for many projects that have gone on to nourish democratic processes in digital culture in Spain.

Photo via Medialab-Prado

Photo via Medialab-Prado

Last year Idea Camp attendees were invited to apply for an R&D grant on their idea connected to “Build the City” which they developed at the Idea Camp in Sweden. Nicolai and Laura also applied to do a residency to extend their practice by learning from the knowledge of Medialab-Prado and its communities. Laura and Nicolai are concerned with improving their cities in different ways but both will benefit greatly from this trip.

Nicolai travels from his home Chisinau in mid-April until the beginning of May to work on the theory around his project, ‘Summer Cinema’. Together with a small group of students, he wants to repair an old soviet summer theatre in a local park and to transform it into a cinema. The idea is to unite and mobilise the local community through movie screenings. Next to the screenings, he plans to organise some musical concerts, encourage local meetings to take place and hopes this will result in community park cleanings to return this green city park to its cultural past.

Despite the communities of Chisinau and Madrid being very different, he hopes to further develop his understanding of how Medialab-Prado and its’ communities co-produce. As the success of his project in Chisinau relies greatly on how he can sustain motivation from the local community to take continuous part in the care of the park. He will also get advice on what kind of technical equipment he should use in an outdoor setting and witness different cinema events happening in Madrid, as well as consult with different cinema professionals such as distributors, filmmakers and cineclub organisers, gaining valuable insight from their experience.

Laura Popplow will be exploring how to co-create the city with the emergency of the refugee crisis as a starting point for a more participatory city planning? How can we move from the architecture of emergency in refugee camps to building common sustainable housing solutions for everyone?

Her R&D idea, co.city lab, is addressing these issues by creating meeting points, workshops and research about best practice examples. The lab on wheels will be travelling between different places in Mainz and Mainz-Kastel during the summer of 2016 where she will develop and prototype a process exploring strategies of co.culture, co.design, co.build and co.governance. It will be shared on www.cocity.eu with an open licence.

During her stay at the Medialab-Prado, Laura will work on co.city mobil (a cargo bike lab) in more detail, building on experiences of ephemeral lab structures and travelling labs around the context of the Medialab-Prado. Secondly she will interview people working in different initiatives and neighbourhoods in Madrid, who have experiences in developing urban commoning activities in complex situations between squatting, self-building and collaborative governance. Additionally she will work around the question of how to run such initiatives in the long run. Which concepts, tools and methods that have been developed in the Spanish context of 15M can be adapted? How can we learn from the experiences and bring these concepts as an input for a more common-based city development to the German context of the current refugee crisis? Laura will be visiting from the end of April into mid-May.

The European Cultural Foundation wishes the residents and Medialab-Prado a very productive and engaging residency period and looks forward to hearing from their mutual learning exchanges.

You can follow Nicolai and Laura on social media: Nicolai is on Facebook and Laura is both on Facebook (CocityLab) and Twitter (CocityLab)