The Kiss of Maravillas

A tribute to the attention of the women´s community of Tetuan

A project financed by Intermediae, Matadero, Madrid 2019

The Maravillas markeplace as a place for intercommunication and dialogue of the community of Tetuan and specifically with women, is the setting of “The Kiss of Maravillas”. The proposal offers continuity to “The Kiss”, produced during 2018 in the Imagina Madrid program, Intermediae, Matadero. As of the community of vicinity for this community project, which in one year collected over 70 testimonies of women who participated in it, with a total of 15 nationalities represented, “The Kiss of Maravillas” started in the heart of this Madrid marketplace. The exposition in this setting, revitalized by its migrant community, gives predominance to 20 women who live in the district using their stories and reflects their values on co-existence. The market houses these 20 canvasses that include the portrait and testimony of each one of these women and their affective memories, at times, made invisible.

Part of “The Kiss of Maravillas” is done with participation of district residents where the debate is constructed as well as the creation of community networks. Inter-culture, feminist perspective, listening are the values of this collaborative project carried out from the 14th of December of 2019 till the 7th of January of 2020.

Selected project for the Imagina Madrid 2017 call for projects, Intermediae, Matadero, Madrid City Council.

“The Kiss” (Toxic Lesbian, 2017) is a work of public and cyberfeminist art which cultivates caring and the creation of community in Madrid’s Bellas Vistas neighbourhood as well as the symbolic redefinition of Calle Topete and its (cartographic and emotional) memories. The project is rooted in the participation of local residents and pays particular attention to female residents, in an analogue and virtual community-created project. Taking a feminist perspective, the piece’s foundation is an essential and often overlooked aspect of how human relationships which, at the same time, is symbolically one of being the key drivers of communities: women’s emotional narratives.

This initiative grew out of testimony from female residents in the Bellas Vistas neighbourhood about the problems in the area. Listening to them, they displayed strong convictions about rebuilding the community-based networks which had broken down over time as a way of restoring safety and quality of life in the area. This latent desire is conveyed by the project’s concrete initiatives. Over the course of several months, this collectively created project aims to find a deeper identity to personal relationships among neighbours. ‘The Kiss’ has been conceived to increase the symbolic and aesthetic visibility of these forms of relationship. The wish of the community to take part in this improvement and in the work already done by the neighbourhood associations are key opportunities used in the project’s design.

The methodology chosen is gender-based – generational, intercultural (intersectionality),   focused on the role of women – protagonism and voice; considering critical lessons and working in networks.

Calle Topete, which plays host the greatest concentration of Dominicans anywhere in Europe, could become a symbol for the Tetuán district through values of citizen participation, coexistence and interculturality.

Work of netart

This artistry of this piece lies in its online design, observing intimate relationships of affection, romantic encounters, disaffection, conflict and intimacy from the gender perspective. The work seeks out personal and direct testimony giving a first person account of the hidden core of the description of amorous relationships, love as a laboratory of a new social order. These testimonies uncover personal relationships, nexuses and esteem for others, the emotional memory, encounters, putting a spotlight on all of the symbolically relational aspects of community. The key features of the stories do not display specific identities, they only reveal the internal workings of the social fabric for artistic purposes.

This work of netart is an aesthetic unipersonal experience which revolves iconically around its epicentre in Calle Topete. It is the substance of the communication and mediation that feed the work.

More specifically, it proposes a virtual itinerary through Madrid’s Calle Topete. Upon entering the work, and using the same functions and possibilities traditionally available on Google’s application, visitors control their movements by going forward, turning left or right, or looking upwards. The itinerary only allows visitors to enter and leave via the same street. As they move forward they hear the pre-recorded voices of the local female residents at short intervals. This is the core of the project. Portraits and images from from the memories of the street’s female inhabitants are also projected onto the virtual street.

The virtual tour “El beso” is available for screening in public or private spaces, or to be included in another website under the Creative Commons 3.0 licence (Non-commercial use; No derivatives; Always giving attribution: “El Beso” is a work by Toxic Lesbian, 2018).

‘The Kiss’ navigation tutorial, netart piece

Location of the women participating in the virtual tour throug Topete Street in Madrid

The Kiss Topete Street

Intervention in the public space

Since September 22nd until October 13th 2018, the exhibit “El Beso” was displayed over facades, balconies, and the display windows of Topete Street in Madrid, with a selection of the art pieces created by Toxic Lesbian with the collaboration of the neighbors. This entails an intervention in an urban space through the disposition of 20 art pieces made on large scale printed canvas. These pieces are a representative selection of the personal accounts of the set of women of the community who contributed to the project. The intervention portrays, through a feminist perspective, the sometimes invisible aspect of women on the affective memories and their convictions on coexistence, reflecting the feelings they project back on this street of Madrid. To bring about this intervention, Toxic Lesbian coordinated informative and characteristic activities related to the community of the neighborhood, with the purpose of complementing the placement of the art pieces on the street´s facades.

Process description

Included at Women at Visual Arts Bienial

This work of netart is a visual, sound and symbolic representation of fields of female desire that are currently under-represented despite their great relevance. It explores the experiences of women as individuals or in groups, transgressing with their actions the expectations conventionally made of their bodies. Using the direct testimony from the participating women, it raises the visibility of spectra that question what was intended to be their sensitivity and natural stimuli. The work is based on stories of women from socially restricted environments and aims to disseminate an imaginary of their authentic, diverse and profound desire. BDSM practices from a feminist perspective, polyamor or mature women’s sexual practices and desire are the contexts chosen for the participatory debates depicted in the work.

This digital work of netart was created through multidisciplinary collaborative processes that are characteristic of public art from a feminist perspective. It is composed of two elements: first, a web backdrop consisting of an animated audiovisual video created specifically for the project; and, second, a semi-open space of dialogue containing three successive debates. The first element is, visually, a video creation of about 3 minutes. It shows a succession of images that evoke an interiorised experience of emotion about desire. In a non-narrative and figurative way, through visual and auditory reconstruction of symbols taken both from nature (detail of trees, creation of visual textures with these elements) and from live recordings of collaborative groups of women (fragments of parts of the body in the abstract or moving shots), it creates a backdrop for the second element. It, in turn, is a window connected to the Telegram social network and showing a chat between several women and restricted to them only. The window shows their conversations in each of the scenarios. From the interface, internet users follow the invited group’s discussions in real time as the work was being produced, as well as in deferred time at its conclusion. The final content of the whole dialogue process remains in the web’s chat window, becoming part of the work. Moreover, the digital site’s audio was created live using two participants in the collaborative project.

To create this work, Toxic Lesbian participated for several months, observing real and operative chats among interlocutors from feminist and social research groups on new forms of relationship between women.