"This is a Martian": Usera's room that shows everything to a 'voyeur' audience

Literature and cinema are full of iconic rooms that steal the spotlight even from the main characters: the red room of Twin peaks (1990), for example, the hotel room in which the protagonist of Oldboy (2003) or room 217 that Stephen King devised for The glow.

Naked Room Number 34. claudia maturana

On Room Number 34, the room is also the protagonist. Here nothing is hidden and everything is offered to the outside. A large window on the corner of two streets in the Madrid neighborhood of Usera shows what is going on inside. Among its snowy walls you can see elements common to any bedroom: a closet, a bed, some electronic devices, a small toilet and several bedside tables. But with the peculiarity that everything is placed backwards, on the ceiling instead of the floor.

This surreal façade is the permanent installation that serves as a letter of introduction to this cultural space in which the viewer observes without having access to its interior. Enjoy as a simple voyeur. Every Friday and Saturday, live art shows, concerts, performances and interviews that are revolutionizing stories in Instagram. And the neighborhood in general. “I remember the day that María Forqué acted with her impressive staging with lights and smoke, half naked … The people of the neighborhood thought she was doing an erotic show!”, Says the television scriptwriter Diana Aller, one of the participants in this unprecedented cultural project in the capital.

Concert of Virgin Mary (María Forqué) that took place on March 26, 2021.

Its architect and director, the Madrid artist RGB, known by the stage name of 3819etc, launched it in September 2020 to promote the visual art and emerging music of our country. In it, the musicians and artists chosen in collaboration with Lava Art Project They look like mannequins in a shop window in full swing. Art is seen but not touched or heard (this is done through its YouTube channel), a creative response to the security restrictions generated by the covid that have disrupted cultural life around the world. “The idea came up during the first lockdown in 2020, so it was designed and thought by and to survive in times of covid. Perhaps if there had been no pandemic it would be different, but it is difficult to know for sure ”, RGB explains.

The artist, known for his avant-garde designs at the helm of the Chromosome Residence brand, decided to take advantage of the corner of this nondescript venue in the south of Madrid. “This space aims to evoke the place where the artist, on most occasions, imagines and shapes his ideas: his room,” he explains. “A dynamic that draws conceptually from the residences of visual artists, in which the artist lives in a room-workshop where he produces his work, but in this case we materialize through monthly exhibitions designed to be seen only from outside the room. bedroom”.

Exhibition 'Wasted Panorama', by Yosi Negrín, curated by Lava Art Project.  It was from September 17 to October 7, 2020.
Exhibition ‘Wasted Panorama’, by Yosi Negrín, curated by Lava Art Project. It was from September 17 to October 7, 2020. claudia maturana

As a sign of identity, it would bear the number of the street where it is located, 34 Avenida Cerro de los Ángeles. This also serves to give continuity to the cultural project Room number in which it is integrated. In the future he plans to open more spaces on the outskirts. “Who can afford a place in the center of Madrid? This is the most pressing reason among young people that encourages them to move to the periphery, either to live or to open a space. On the other hand, we believe that decentralizing culture is also essential. Normally, these types of events are located in the center of cities and, specifically, in the center of the country. It is important to note that Practices that from the world of art and the academic world consider “culture” tend to be elitist. However, culture is also the entire social fabric and social practices of each neighborhood., as for example in Usera it can be the Chinese New Year or so many other things ”, explains its creator.

Contemporary art yes, but for the neighborhood

In Room Number 34, the proximity to the neighborhood acts as an integrating element of its cultural fabric. “At our inaugurations, the first spectators are the hairdresser across the street and the neighbors of the building. We integrate because our space has no entry barriers, everyone knows that it is there and that every month there will be a new exhibition. They may not understand it or look at us more as entertainment, but it is that art should be entertainment accessible to everyone”Points out RGB.

Exhibition 'Maybe it was she who said turn around', by Nora Silva, curated by Lava Art Project.  He was in Room 34 from March 23 to April 17, 2021. I ROOM NUMBER 34.
Exhibition ‘Maybe it was she who said turn around’, by Nora Silva, curated by Lava Art Project. He was in Room 34 from March 23 to April 17, 2021. I ROOM NUMBER 34.

Diana Aller She has been a member of the project since its inception and is in charge of conducting the interviews that precede each performance on Fridays. After the show, a gathering takes place where the questions that the followers ask through social networks are launched. Aller stresses that what is interesting about the project is precisely the synergy that arises between two worlds, at first, so disparate. “It is clear that this is a martian for an area like Usera, a popular neighborhood with a large migrant population, but it is just what generates such beautiful energy,” he explains.

'El aire que media', by Jesu Moratiel, is the installation of Room Number 34 that can be "watch" until May 24.
‘El aire que media’, by Jesu Moratiel, is the installation of Room Number 34 that can be “observed” until May 24.

To date, this surreal bedroom has provided “accommodation” for artists such as Javiera mena, Stephen Please or Rizha. This month the Madrid-born Lucas Vidaur, known as Hate Confetti (may 14), MEGANE (May 21) and Rakky ripper (May 28), along with a program every Saturday from djs by the Madrid electronic music collective Phase Collective.

Belinda Martín Porras and Paula Ramos Mollá, founders of the visual arts platform Lava Art Project, are in charge of recruiting artists who change the face of Room Number 34 once a month. Its walls have mutated in scenarios as diverse as a dystopian beach of waste devised by Yosi Negrin, a portable garden of Lola zoido and they have even served as a bed for the inflatable dolls that the Galician Jesu Moratiel now keeps them connected to the digital world by means of plastic tubes. On May 25 it will be Ignacio Nevado, better known as Ampparito, who takes over with their everyday and puzzling objects.

Reviewing a programming that tends towards the emerging and young, A launches a wish that may sound crazy but not impossible. “We have considered bringing Leticia Sabater or Sonia Monroy because they are artists who have a very misunderstood role but are very professional… I would like to open the range without posing a loss of identity. I think that Bringing someone for the fun of bringing them is the real thing underground”. For now, that label is a clear hallmark of Room Number 34.

Stephen please concert that took place on March 5, 2021.

The exhibition 'Diverrealism', by Jaume Clotet, could be seen on February 14, 2021. I BORJA LLOBREGAT
The exhibition ‘Diverrealism’, by Jaume Clotet, could be seen on February 14, 2021. I BORJA LLOBREGAT
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