Cristina Morales is a London-based Spanish-born cultural activist – a transdisciplinary cultural practitioner with international experience working as researcher, writer, curator, speaker, critical pedagogue and artist at the intersection of art, psychology and politics for self and community development . She holds a Master in Arts & Culture Production from the Open University of Catalonia, and a Bachelor in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Barcelona, Spain. Known for her creative, decolonial and hence holistic approach to activism, Cristina is currently freelancing as project manager for Disability Arts Online (UK). She is the founding curator of Counterspace, and founding artist of Totem Taboo (International). She is an artist-in-residence at Design Science Studio, an incubator for revolutionary art by Buckminster Fuller Institute (San Francisco). And she is a freelance writer on decoloniality, cultural activism, and African/diaspora arts & culture, published by media such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London); El Mundo (Madrid); Humanities, Arts & Society (Paris); A Beautiful Resistance (Seattle); Inhabit (Global); Ouvrage (Montreal); and Radio Africa (Barcelona).
Disability Arts Online | 2021- Present, UK / International. Disability Arts Online is a UK-based non-profit organisation occupying a unique global position championing the development of disability arts. DAO’s team is a group of expert individuals working together to take action for social justice with a rich history challenging dominant narratives, breaking down barriers to arts engagement from an intersectional disability-led position, embracing neurodiversity and chronic physical and/or mental conditions. Growing out of DAO’s Covid-19 response and anti-racism activism, with the aim of diversifying, decentralising and impacting the sector and society, the Onyx Pilot Project puts ethnically diverse disabled creatives in the driving seat by establishing an artist collective which will meet, articulate their own leadership, and create new work, culminating in a publication, supported by a big London-based launch event in the spring of 2022. The Onyx Collective will also select and commission other artists to deliver accessible artist presentations for audiences across UK and the world. And DAO will employ ethnically diverse disabled freelance creatives as artists mentors to deliver one-on-one artist development sessions.
Freelance Project Manager | Project planning, administration, communication, reporting, monitoring, evaluation, coordination and co-facilitation of meetings, research and coordination of partnerships, and production of design and delivery of a publication and launch event sticking to timeline and budget. Co-management of Artists Presentations programme. Ethnically diverse disabled artists research and recruitment as artists mentors for one-on-one artist development sessions in liaison with the CEO. Key achievements: Facilitating the foundation of a brand new artist collective at the intersection of disablism and racism. Fostering diversity in the disability arts sector.
Counterspace | 2019 – Present – London, UK / International. Counterspace is an independent curatorial platform and the first decolonial thinktank mapping cultural activism worldwide. Shaped by the phases of the decolonial process, Counterspace’s unlearning toolkit proposes common resources and experiences to unpack and redefine so far consisting of online and printed decolonial publications, an online ‘Decolonial Library’, online and live ‘Decolonial Labs’, and online and live forum talks. And Counterspace’s relearning toolkit proposes common resources and experiences to reconnect holistically so far consisting of an online ‘Radical Imagination Library’, an online ‘Mutation School’, ‘Mutants podcast’, and a cultural activism global directory browsable by continent, praxis and social construct. A Beuys-inspired ‘social sculpture/organism’ network which by connecting the dots, links the experiences and culture shakers creatively decolonising culture, while inspiring others to join the collective machinery towards change. A net where -as he defined it- every human being is an artist who shapes his/her/their state of freedom, where the position of freedom he/she/they experiences/experience at first-hand learns to determine the other positions of the total art work of the future social order.
Founding Curator | Researcher. Curator. Editor. Author. Speaker. Decolonial Labs Facilitator / Critical Pedagogue. Podcaster. Communication. Fundraiser. Key achievements: Founding curator of the first decolonial thinktank mapping cultural activism worldwide. Founding curator of the first Decolonial Lab. Published by Humanities, Arts and Society + Memory of the Future (Paris); London Institute of Contemporary Arts (London); A Beautiful Resistance (Seattle); Ouvrage (Montreal); and Inhabit (Global). Partnered up with Actipedia by the Center for Artistic Activism (New York), Social Art Network (UK), Primary (Nottingham), -Ism (London), Socially Engaged Art Salon (Brighton), Publib (UK), Utopian Studies Society (UK), Ephemera Conference (International), Narratopias by Plurality University Network (Paris), and Antiuniversity Now (London). Community organising fostering social practice art global networks, and unity bridging neocolonial and hierarchical gaps, as a key collective liberation factor in a – still dividing – identity politics activism scene.
Haringey Arts | 2016-2017 – London, UK. Haringey Arts is a community interest company developing the North London living/working converted warehouses district of Haringey connecting the creative talent in the area through events, workshops and collaborations creating profile.
Assistant Curator | Curation of commissioned artwork for warehouse related projects. Social media manager of Tottenham Creative Warehouse District. HA website updates & newsletters. Art programme curation for Haringey primary schools with HA artists. Key achievements: Groundbreaking neighbourhood-based platform for displaced artists, contexts of care/ dissent/ liberation and intentional intersection spaces for community development.
Black Cultural Archives | 2015 – London, UK. BCA is the first national Black Culture heritage public institution in the UK. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and celebrate Black culture in Britain.
Relationship & Development Assistant | Digital marketing. Key achievement: Revealing hidden histories of Britain’s Black heritage focusing on social and political issues through art.
Peckham Platform | 2015 – London, UK. Peckham Platform is a social art gallery connecting people, art and place in the South London neighbourhood of Peckham believing that communities can inform and shape their engagement with their locality by working with contemporary visual artists bringing meaningful contemporary social practice alive influencing policy making in the area and beyond.
Social Art Gallery Assistant | Assisting ‘Twelve’ exhibition by Melanie Manchot, ‘Cuming: a Natural Selection’ exhibition by Janetka Platun and ‘Doing Nothing is Not an Option: in Memory of Nigerian Writer and Activist Ken Saro-Wiwa’ exhibition by Michael McMillan. Key achievement: Fostering social practice art in disenfranchised and gentrified Peckham neighbourhood.
Interarts | 2014 – Barcelona, Spain / International. Interarts is a private agency which specialises in human development through culture via cultural policies and cultural cooperation.
Project Assistant – Content Curator | Curator of Fomecc – Creative Industries Networking Platform in Spain, South America and West Africa, researching and curating content, community building and follow-up. Key achievement: Community organising fostering tricontinental creative industries networks.
Ribermusica | 2007-2009 – Barcelona, Spain. Ribermusica is a non-profit organisation with a long trajectory working on social art using music as a tool for cohesion in Barcelona’s neighbourhood La Ribera through several community-based projects. Among them, Ribermusica Festival which brings music performances into unusual places.
Freelance Assistant Curator | Liaison and booking of 20 unusual concert venues (shops, libraries, barbershops, bakeries, parks, restaurants, hotels …) for Ribermusica Festival editions 2007, 2008 and 2009. Key achievements: Hosting horizontal music performances, creating contexts of care / dissent / liberation and intentional intersection spaces for community gathering / development.
HostelArt | 2005-2013 – Barcelona, Spain / International. HostelArt was a groundbreaking platform in the independent backpackers hostel sector creating an alternative room for arts & culture in Equity Point hostels chain by developing a non-profit project where artists, travellers + city audience, and hostels, benefited from a free monthly cultural programme including international art residencies.
Founding Curator / Project Manager | Production, programming, organisation, administration and communication of ninety-six art exhibitions, four hundred concerts, four hundred Dj sessions, four hundred screenings, two charity theme festivals, a fashion catwalk, one hundred design markets, five outdoor live graffiti paintings, five big decoration projects and three international art residencies in other European independent backpackers hostels. Key achievements: Democratising art, creating different art circuits, providing space for Barcelona’s multidisciplinary arts underground scene, facilitating international and local community gathering and intentional intersection contexts of care / dissent / liberation. Inspiring following independent backpackers hostels to bring arts & culture to their spaces worldwide.
Featured image: Fluxus Manifesto, 1963.
ESSAYS / ARTICLES
DECOLONIALITY AND COUNTERCULTURE : PSYCHOLOGICAL, SOCIO-CULTURAL, POLITICAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, SPIRITUAL AND NATURAL APPROACH
Ouvrage | Ouvrage is a Canadian publication based in Montreal reviewing revolutionary and autonomous theoretical and practical reflections to resist inertia. This essay is with them published in French, translated by Etienne Simard and edited by Stephanie Logrado. Publication | ”The Great Pause’. A Decolonial Approach for Life Beyond Neoliberalism.’– June, 2020.
London Institute of Contemporary Arts | ICA is an English institution based in London supporting radical arts & culture. This essay is featured in ICA Daily permanent archive of recommended reading, viewing and listening from the ICA‘s curatorial team, and edited by Claudia Loughran. Publication | ”The Great Pause’. A Decolonial Approach for Life Beyond Neoliberalism.’– May, 2020.
Inhabit | Inhabit is a publication providing tools for freedom in French and English. The collection of essays ‘ Pandemic Trilogy’ was selected by Inhabit as one of the best readings of the entire pandemic along with authors such as Naomi Klein among others, featured in English in their permanent archive Territories, and edited by Claudia Loughran. Publications | ”The Great Pause’. A Decolonial Approach for Life Beyond Neoliberalism.’– May, 2020. ‘On Crisis and Meaning. And the Liminal Revolution in-Between.’– May, 2020. ‘A Power-exposing Microbe Called Crown.’ – March, 2020.
A Beautiful Resistance | A Beautiful Resistance is an American anti-capitalist and pagan organisation based in Seattle running Gods & Radicals Press. These essays were published in English and edited by Claudia Loughran and Mirna Wabi-Sabi. Publications | ‘‘The Great Pause’. A Decolonial Approach for Life Beyond Neoliberalism.’ – May, 2020. ‘On Crisis and Meaning. And the Liminal Revolution in-Between.’ – May, 2020.
CULTURAL ACTIVISM : SELF AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGH ART
Humanities, Arts & Society + Memory of the Future | HAS is a French organisation based in Paris by UNESCO-MOST, International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences, Global Chinese Arts and Culture Society and Memory of the Future, which mission is to create a worldwide movement of artists and thinkers demonstrating what is the role and impact of arts on society and universal issues. This essay is published in English and French in a joint project called Open Windows, edited by Claudia Loughran and Jordi Miranda. Publication | ‘The Common Thread: Art as Counterspace.’– April, 2020.
El Mundo | Voces is a Spanish foundation based in Madrid with a blog in the Spanish national press El Mundo advocating for human and social development through disruptive arts & culture. This article was published in Spanish and edited by Cristina Alvarez de Mon. Publication | ‘Intercultural Dialogues through Art.’ – March, 2014.
AFRICAN AND AFRICAN DIASPORA ARTS & CULTURE
Radio Africa Magazine | Radio Africa is a Spanish cultural container based in Barcelona dedicated to contemporary African arts & culture. This article was published in Spanish and edited by Clara Nuñez. Publication | ‘Bronx : Africa. The influence of African Culture in The Bronx.’ – February, 2016.
Wiriko | Wiriko is the first Spanish magazine based in Barcelona specialised in contemporary African arts & culture. These articles were published in Spanish and edited by Vanessa Anaya. Publications | ‘From Roots Reggae to Dancehall in Jamaica.’ – January, 2016. ‘Staying Power: Afro-British Self-Representation.’– April, 2015. ‘Afro Comb: 6.000 Years of Culture, Politics and Identity.’ – October, 2013. ‘Echoes of Africa: On Cosmopolitan Identities and Trends.’– March, 2013.
A Beautiful Resistance | A Beautiful Resistance is an American anti-capitalist and pagan organisation based in Seattle running Gods & Radicals Press. This poem was published in English and edited by Mike Dockins. Publication | ‘Mama’s Blues’-June, 2020.
Featured image: Dadalenin by Rainer Ganahl, 2003.
VISUAL AND PERFORMANCE ART
Totem Taboo | 2012 – Present, International. Totem Taboo is the first militant fashion & lifestyle brand born in Spain. Now an international Situationist brand designing political scenes + scenic artefacts building new collective imaginaries through the visual narrative of the symbol.
Founding Artist | Designer. Maker. Producer. Stylist. Art Director. Communication. Key achievements: First brand designing militant ethnic fashion in Spain since 2012, portrayed in Barcelona’s street art by SM172. First Spanish brand present in top contemporary ethnic art & design shows in Europe such as Labo Ethnik – Paris, 2012; Ethno Tendance – Brussels, 2012 ; Afropunk – Paris, 2016 or Africa Utopia – London, 2017 to mention a few. First contemporary ethnic fashion brand dressing the contemporary free jazz scene with a Sun Ra’s inspired collection with the likes of Zap Mama and Sun Ra Arkestra. First contemporary ethnic fashion brand creating Debord-inspired performative ‘Situations’. Totem Taboo is stocked at the biggest museum of anthropology in Europe: Quai Branly Museum’s boutique in Paris, and Soboye, the biggest African fashion hub in London. And it is part of the itinerant scenic fashion collective exhibition Parures organised by Paris-based conscious fashion organisation Universal Love exhibited to date at Klimafestivalen in Oslo – Norway, 2018.
Mischief Makers Carnival Arts | 2016 – 2018, UK. Mischief Makers is led by freelance independent Carnival artist Emma Garofalo specialised in large scale kinetic costumes / puppetry & performance for community development projects all over the United Kingdom.
Freelance Costume Assistant & Performer | ‘Metamorphosis’ costume assistant for Northampton Carnival -London, 2018. ‘Metamorphosis’ costume assistant and performer for Brighton Pride Parade – Brighton, 2018. ‘Anima Mundi’ costume assistant for Luton International Carnival – London, 2017 and Extinction Rebellion – London, 2019. Workshop assistant for Kew Gardens – London, 2017. ‘Metamorphosis’ costume assistant & performer for Wandsworth Arts Fringe – London, 2017; Kew Gardens – London, 2017 and Camp Bestival – Dorset, 2016. Key achievements: Anima Mundi costume was winner of EMCCAN Caribbean Carnival Queen first prize (2017) and leader of Extinction Rebellion in Hackney, London (2019). Fostering /embodying human and nature rights themed participatory arts and politics of public space.
Mahogany Carnival Arts | 2016 – London, UK. Mahogany is a group of multi-disciplinary artists led by Clary Salandy and Speedy Ramdeen – trained originally with Trinidadian award-wining carnival artist Peter Minshall – who design and create carnival large scale kinetic sculptures using the human body in the art form of ‘Mas making’, masquerade or street theatre having been instrumental in introducing such art across the UK and also being a seminal force in educating European communities in the development of carnival as a catalyst for bringing together people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Freelance Costume Assistant & Performer | Costume assistant and performer for Lord Kitchener-inspired collection ‘London is The Place for Me’ for the 50th Anniversary of Notting Hill Carnival. Key achievements: Winner of 50th Notting Hill Carnival first prize. Mahogany’s costume featured on page 29 of current British passport. Fostering /embodying human rights themed participatory arts and politics of public space.
Featured image: Astro Black by Totem Taboo. Photography by Damien Paillard. Model Christelle Duverly. Design, styling and art direction by Cristina Morales.
WORKSHOPS & RELATED TALKS
Decolonial Lab | 2020 – Present. London, UK / International. The monthly Decolonial Lab online by Counterspace is the only non-hierarchical and international grassroots forum experience rooted in critical pedagogy holding space for decolonial theory, and most importantly, a collective exploration of the subject plus co-creation of a new paradigm as decolonial practice. That means that although the theoretical body is always similar, the roundtable conversation is always different, which gives the lab as much continuity, to deepen or broaden the holistic exploration, as desired. As Decolonial Lab is the first and only of its kind, where health and the expansion of both personal and community development is understood as a necessarily holistic and interdependent exercise on a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and natural level. The experience is then catalysed connecting psychology, socio-cultural anthropology, politics, spirituality and natural sciences, with the aim of healing while building the new instead of focusing on fighting the old, minding the whole picture. And it is addressed to people from all walks of life and locations ready to build, through relational learning, new pools of alternative collective knowledge in circulation.
Founding Curator – Critical Pedagogue | Hosting curator and critical pedagogue of a monthly and international DECOLONIAL LAB online for individuals. And hosting curator and critical pedagogue of both live and online Decolonial Labs for groups, facilitated by Counterspace.
State Academy of Art and Design | 2021 – Stuttgart, Germany. The State Academy of Art and Design (ABK Stuttgart) is the University of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. The Master ‘Body, Theory and Poetics of The Performative’ is the first of its kind in Germany and allow students to work on the politics of the body, theory and poetics of the performative as different but inseparable dimensions of the same praxis. An approach allowing to explore the possibilities and question the limits of social power formulating theoretical, technical and organisational aspects of their practice through collective forms of critical work. The Master is co-directed by Cristina Gómez Barrio since 2018, the co-founder of Discoteca Flaming Star, an interdisciplinary and collaborative art group using performance as response to social and political events.
Guest Lecturer | Guest lecturer presenting career work linked to the MFA BODY, THEORY AND POETICS OF THE PERFORMATIVE programme. Organised by Cristina Gómez Barrio, Sabine Palm, and facilitated by the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design.
Ephemera | 2021 – International. Ephemera is an independent peer-reviewed open access online journal about theory and politics in organising composed of academics from all over the world. Countering the current hegemonisation of social theory, it operates at the margins of organisation studies continuously seeking to question what organisation studies is and what it can become. The journal is supported by individual donors and academic institutions, currently the University Library of Bern, Switzerland and the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
Guest Speaker | Guest speaker on CULTURAL ACTIVISM AS COUNTERPOWER within the panel ‘Arts Activism’ in the online conference ‘ACTIVIST ORGANISING AND ORGANISING ACTIVISM: A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD IN THE MAKING‘ organised by Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi, Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar, Ekaterina Chertkovskaya and Christos Giotitsas, and facilitated by Ephemera.
Primary | 2020 – Nottingham, UK / International. Primary is an artist-led contemporary visual arts organisation prioritising artistic research and participatory arts providing residencies and running a free public programme of learning and community events. Their approach to programme is to invest in artistic research and learning through participation and engagement delivering a platform for conversation and knowledge exchange which by employing a cycle of theory, practice, and reflection, creates collaborative relationships between artists, audiences, and the wider society.
Co-Host – Critical Pedagogue | Host and critical pedagogue of the online ‘DECOLONIAL LAB FOR CULTURAL ACTIVISTS‘ in the frame of Making Place exhibition and the monthly forum Social Practice Social, curated by Rebecca Beinart and facilitated by Primary.
Social Art Network | 2020 – London & Brighton, UK / International. Social Art Network is a British platform of artists committed to building agency via art and social practice. Unapologetically political and unreservedly radical in approach and practice, SAN believes that the only creative response to our current climate is radical politics as art, understanding politics not as governmental parties but as the social collection of people, where true meaningful change is generated. In art, this translates into emotional resonance with the state of our society and the crises that we collectively inhabit but it also translates into vision imagining new ways of living with one another, where creativity has always led the way in conceiving revolutionary routes. Created in 2017, SAN met early success launching the Social Art Summit 2018, a national review of social practice leading to the artist-led national network, and expanding dialogue and a pilot for the world’s first Social Art Biennial.
Co-Host – Guest Speaker | Guest speaker on decolonial thought and co-host of the decentralised and practice-led online event on ‘RADICAL IMAGINATION‘ along with social practice artists Sophie Hope, Fran Cottell, E-J Scott, R.M Sanchez-Camus and Ignacio Acosta, curated by Sally Labern and facilitated by Social Art Network London.
Guest Speaker | Guest speaker in the online event ‘DECOLONISING CULTURE: UNLEARNING AND RELEARNING THROUGH CREATIVE PRACTICE‘ along with artist Sofia Yala N’Lolo, hosted and curated by Susuana Amoah, and facilitated by Socially Engaged Salon and Social Art Network Brighton.
Featured image: Oskar Hansen’s open form theory, 1959.