Cultural Activist | Curator. Writer. Educator. Artist.
Cristina Morales is a cultural activist. An applied anthropologist and transdisciplinary cultural practitioner working internationally as a critical researcher, writer, educator, and social practice curator-artist at the intersection of art and politics for self and social development. She is a singular trauma-informed cultural strategist linking decolonial theory and the full spectrum of human sciences with social practice art. Her work and interests involve but are not limited to public engagement, co-led and critical spatial practices, relational learning and alternative forms of knowledge production, radical imagination, alternative art circuits, avant-garde art, african/diaspora arts & culture, and ultimately holistic health. Cristina holds a Master of Cultural Management from the Open University of Catalonia, and a Bachelor of Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Barcelona.
In addition to being the founding curator of Counterspace and the founding artist of Totem Taboo, Cristina is currently a freelance writer published by international 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). She is also occasionally a guest speaker for organisations such as the Social Art Network (UK), and guest lecturer for universities such as ABK Stuttgart University of Art & Design (Germany). Her first co-written book ‘Emerging Desires. Planting critical seeds on decoloniality and psychoanalysis’ will be published in 2023.
Counterspace | 2019 – Present, International. Counterspace is an independent curatorial platform functioning as the first decolonial thinktank mapping cultural activism worldwide. It shapes collectively decolonial toolkits with common tools and resources, and a global directory browsable by continent, praxis, and social construct as a Beuys-inspired ‘social sculpture’ revisited. The first global network and social movement linking the countercultural experiences and radical culture shakers (artists, curators or both) creatively decolonising culture, while inspiring others to join the collective machinery towards change. Departing from creativity as the source that any human being has, and via these common toolkits, Counterspace aims to create new collective knowledge production pools in circulation addressed to individuals, collectives, and institutions while self-organising, exploring horizontal relationships, unlearning and relearning personal and community development, with a decolonial and hence intersectional, decentralised, and holistic approach.
Founding Curator / Producer | Researcher. Curator. Editor. Decolonial Labs Facilitator. Communication. Fundraising. Key achievements: Founding the first decolonial thinktank mapping cultural activism worldwide. Founding and facilitating the first grassroots citizen-led Decolonial Lab. Community organising via the first decolonial global network. Fostering unity bridging neocolonial and hierarchical gaps as a key collective liberation factor in a – still dividing – identity politics activism scene. Being awarded an artist fellowship at Design Science Studio to develop Counterspace as part of their decade-long Regenaissance Movement (cohort 2021-2022).
Disability Arts Online | 2021- 2022, UK / International. Disability Arts Online is a UK-based non-profit organisation occupying a unique global position championing the development of ‘disability art’, deriving from the ‘disability arts movement’, from a differently-abled-led position. The Onyx pilot project established a UK-wide interseccional artist-led collective formed by Priya Mistry, Alexandrina Hemsley, Kuli Kohli, Ngozi Ugochukwu, Jacqui Adeniji-Williams, Ashokkumar Mistry, and Omikemi. Articulating their own leadership, they were commissioned to create a debut publication culminating in a launch event at Autograph ABP in London, supported by media such as Primary and Gal-dem. The publication is stocked in art galleries, radical bookshops and cultural organisations across London and the UK. Onyx Collective members were also employed as freelance publication editors, as well as freelance artists mentors to deliver artist development webinars and one-on-one sessions. The Onyx Collective also delivered, and commissioned other artists to deliver, accessible artist presentations for a global audience.
Project Manager | Onyx project co-planning with artists and CEO. Coordination, co-facilitation and minuting of online and live artist collective meetings. Communication and coordination of artist collective, core team, finance, marketing, and partners. Project managing the completion, edition, design and delivery of the collective debut publication sticking to timeline and budget. Production of the collective launch event sticking to timeline and budget in collaboration with the artists and DAO. Research of mentors and partnerships. Recruitment of external facilitators, editors, and mentors for artist development sessions in liaison with the CEO. Artists support in collaboration with DAO. Administration, financial monitoring, and evaluation reports in collaboration with the CEO. Key achievement: Fostering intersectional diversity in the ‘disability arts’ sector and society by facilitating the foundation and launching of probably the first UK-wide intersectional artist-led collective in the niche.
Haringey Arts | 2016 – London, UK. Haringey Arts was a community interest company developing the converted (living/working) warehouse district of Haringey in North London, connecting the creative talent in the area through events, workshops and collaborations creating profile. From 2008 to 2018, it connected over 70,000 people, raised over £100,000 to commission collaborations between local artists, and created 35 new projects that helped artists reach a bigger audience playing a role in the recognition of the area as a creative asset. They established partnerships with many local organisations such as Bernie Grant Arts Centre, West Creative, Clear Village, and Manor House Development Trust, to name a few. A ‘Village Fund’ is still available to anyone living at Cara House, Catwalk Place, Overbury Road, and Arena, who can prove that their project will benefit their fellow residents, the neighbourhood, and develop the identity of the community.
Co-curator | Co-curation of commissioned artwork for warehouse-related projects. Social media manager of Tottenham Warehouse District, website updates & newsletters. Art programme co-curation for Haringey primary schools with HA artists. Key achievements: Democratising art creating alternative art circuits. Developing a creative neighbourhood-based platform by displaced-by-gentrification artists. Creating contexts of care, dissent, and liberation as well as intentional intersection spaces for community development.
Black Cultural Archives| 2015 – London, UK. Black Cultural Archives is the first public institution collecting, preserving, and celebrating the history and culture of people of both African and Afro-Caribbean descent in the UK. Still a nationally unique archive and heritage centre in Brixton, South London, founded in 1981 by historian and educator Len Garrison. Apart from the archive, BCA provides dedicated learning spaces as well as a programme of remarkable exhibitions and events.
Relationship & Development Assistant | Assisting the relationship & development department related to communication and digital marketing. Key achievement: Revealing hidden history working on social and political topics through art.
Peckham Platform | 2015 – London, UK. Peckham Platform is one of the few public art galleries in London devoted to social art practice, connecting people, art, and place. They believe that communities can inform and shape their engagement with their locality by collaborating with contemporary visual artists, bringing meaningful contemporary social practice alive, influencing policy making in the area and beyond.
Social Art Gallery & Learning 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 participatory art in the disenfranchised and gentrified neighbourhood of Peckham in South London.
Interarts | 2014 – Barcelona, Spain / International. Interarts is a private agency functioning as a non-profit civil society organisation specialising in human development through culture since 1995. From its headquarters in Barcelona, they carry out their international activity through and with an extensive network of partner organisations and professionals, having offices in Lima (Peru), and Pristina (Kosovo). Their areas of work are: cultural cooperation, consultancy, knowledge transfer, applied research, networking & advocacy.
Curator/ Community Organiser | Curator of Fomecc – Creative Industries Networking Platform in Spain, South America and West Africa. Research, content curation, community building and follow-up. Key achievement: Community organising building tricontinental creative industries networks.
Ribermusica Festival | 2007-2009 – Barcelona, Spain. Ribermusica is a private foundation with a long trajectory working on social art using music as a tool for cohesion. They work in Barcelona’s neighbourhood La Ribera, through several community-based projects. Among them, Ribermusica Festival which brings music performances into unusual places.
Cultural Producer | Booking and liaison of unusual concert venues (shops, libraries, barbershops, parks, restaurants, hotels …) for Ribermusica Festival’s editions 2007, 2008 and 2009. Key achievements: Democratising art creating alternative art circuits and horizontal performances. Creating contexts of care, dissent, and liberation as well as intentional intersection spaces for community development.
HostelArt | 2005-2013 – Barcelona, Spain / International. HostelArt was a groundbreaking platform creating an alternative room for arts & culture within the independent backpackers’ hostels niche, specifically the growing Equity Point international chain with hostels in Barcelona, Madrid, London, New York, Marrakech, Girona, and Prague, up until then. It developed a non-profit project where Barcelona artists, Barcelona audience, and Barcelona Equity Point hostels/travellers, benefited from a free monthly cultural programme, including international art residencies. Among its partnerships: Associació de Sales de Concerts de Catalunya, Tendencias TV, Urbe TV, Scanner FM, Lamono Magazine, El Periódico, Mondo Sonoro, Relevant Urban Music and Art Magazine, Backpackers Meeting Point, Two Market, Cruz Roja, Vida Urbana, Arte en Barcelona, Barcelona Turisme Creatiu, Hace Color, Kasba Music, Festival de Jazz i Música Creativa de Ciutat Vella, Hipnotik Festival, Brasilnoar Festival, Buskers Festival, Difusor, Djs Contra La Fam, Un Techo Por Chile, La Casa Amarilla, Fusic, Imagomundi Artes Plásticas, and Tap Barcelona to mention a few.
Founding Curator-Producer / Project Manager | Programming, organisation, administration, and communication of ninety-six art exhibitions, four hundred concerts, four hundred Dj sessions, four hundred film screenings, two fundraising festivals, a fashion catwalk, one hundred design markets, five outdoor live graffiti paintings, five big hostel decoration projects, and three international art residencies in other European independent backpackers’ hostels. Key achievements: Democratising art creating alternative art circuits, providing space for Barcelona’s multidisciplinary underground arts scene. Creating contexts of care, dissent, and liberation as well as intentional intersection spaces for community development. Inspiring other independent backpackers’ hostels to bring arts & culture to their spaces worldwide.
Featured image: Fluxus Manifesto by George Maciunas, 1963.
DECOLONIALITY: CRITICAL HUMAN SCIENCES AND RADICAL PEDAGOGY
‘Emerging Desires. Planting critical seeds on decoloniality and psychoanalysis‘ is a book co-written by Cristina Morales (Spain), Luis Langelotti (Argentina), Santiago Díaz (Argentina), Macarena Jaramillo (Argentina), Adonay Alaminos (Argentina), Lorena Altamiranos (Ecuador), Carolina Márquez (Mexico), Carolina Díaz (Mexico), and Samantha Aguilar (Mexico). A collaboratively written book by psychoanalysts, philosophers, and anthropologists, whose transdisciplinary outlook stems from the so-called ‘Global South’ – Upcoming, 2023.
A Beautiful Resistance | Seattle, USA. A Beautiful Resistance is an American anti-capitalist and pagan organisation running Gods & Radicals Press. This poem was published in English and edited by Mike Dockins. Publication | ‘Mama’s Blues’-June, 2020.
RADICAL IMAGINATION: SOCIAL PRACTICE ART, AVANT-GARDES & COUNTERCULTURES
ESSAYS / ARTICLES
Humanities, Arts & Society + Memory of the Future | Paris, France. HAS is a French organisation 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 | Madrid, Spain. Voces is a Spanish foundation with a blog in the Spanish national press El Mundo advocating for human 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.
ABK University of Art and Design | 2022 – 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 and Wolfgang Mayer since 2018, co-founders of Discoteca Flaming Star which is an interdisciplinary and collaborative art group using performance as response to social and political events.
GuestLecturer | Guest lecturer presenting career work linked to the Master BODY, THEORY AND POETICS OF THE PERFORMATIVE programme with the lecture ‘EMBODYING LIBERATION: TRAUMA, HEALING AND RITES OF PASSAGE THROUGH ART & CULTURE’.Organised by Cristina Gómez Barrio, Wolfgang Mayer, and Sabine Palm.
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.
Decolonial Lab | 2020 – London, UK / International. The monthly Decolonial Lab online by Counterspace is the first 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 critical depth psychology, sociocultural 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. 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.
FoundingProducer / Facilitator | Producer and hosting facilitator / critical pedagogue of a monthly and international DECOLONIAL LAB online for individuals. Producer and hosting facilitator/critical pedagogue of both live and online Decolonial Labs for groups.
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.
Hosting Facilitator | Hosting facilitator/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.
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, they state that 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 in 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 Biennale.
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 Sánchez-Camus, and Ignacio Acosta, curated by Sally Labern from Social Art Network London.
Featured image: Oskar Hansen’s open form theory presented at AICA congress in Wroclaw, Poland, 1975.
Design Science Studio | 2021 – 2022, San Francisco, USA. Design Science Studio is an incubator by The Buckminster Fuller Institute in partnership with HabRitual, based in San Francisco, USA, launching ‘The Regenaissance’: a decade-long global movement that brings together revolutionary thinkers and creators to imagine, create, and inspire a world that works for 100% of life. With a cluster of visionary mentors and using Buckminster Fuller’s comprehensive anticipatory design science principles, selected cohorts of international revolutionary artists across many disciplines further their education towards building during a seven-month residency culture-shifting ideas and projects for a regenerative future.
Regenaissance Movement Artist (Cohort 2021-2022) | Key achievement: Granted and artist fellowship to work on Counterspace and present it in a series of digital showcases and large scale campaigns to facilitate the transition to a future where all life thrives. Online and live events include Regenera Rising, Making the Invisible Visible, Dissolve and Bloom, and Miami Art Week.
Mischief Makers Carnival Arts| 2016 – 2018, UK. Mischief Makers is an independent carnival initiative led by freelance carnival artist Emma Garofalo, specialised in large scale kinetic costumes / puppetry & performance for community development projects all over the United Kingdom.
Costume Assistant & Performer | ‘Metamorphosis’ costume assistant for Northampton Carnival (London, 2018). ‘Metamorphosis’ costume assistant and performer for Brighton Pride (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 Carnival Queen first prize (2017), and leader of Extinction Rebellion’s parade 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 famous carnival group of multidisciplinary artists based in London led by Clary Salandy and Michael Ramdeen from Trinidad and Tobago. After training with award-wining carnival artist Peter Minshall in their native island, they have been designing and creating large scale kinetic sculptures/carnival costumes 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 since 1989. They have been consistently winning the Notting Hill Carnival competition in their category for most of the last years. With award winning collaborations featured in the Caribbean, London, Paris, Nice, Sweden, United States, and Trinidad, they act as an agent using carnival as a catalyst for bringing together people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
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: Mahogany was winner of the 50th Notting Hill Carnival first prize in its category. A Mahogany costume was featured on page 29 of the then current British passport. Fostering /embodying human rights themed participatory arts and politics of public space.
Totem Taboo | 2012 – 2018 / Present (Hiatus), International. Totem Taboo is an artistic project designing avant-garde scenic artefacts + scenes, building new collective imaginaries through the visual narrative of the symbol. It was born somehow functioning as the first ‘brand’ in Spain designing militant fashion campaigns with non-professional models challenging mainstream notions of identity. Operating outside traditional seasons, bespoke and very small limited edition capsule collections were released punctually focusing on locally and ethically handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces that transcended fast fashion ethos and trends. The garments have evolved to be sculptural and activated only when worn as part of public interventions and performances and they are now dressing the contemporary avant-garde jazz scene, with a Sun Ra-inspired collection and the likes of Zap Mama and Sun Ra Arkestra. Either way, in Situationist fashion, it has always aimed to create situations disrupting the spectacle.
Founding Artist & Producer | Designer. Maker. Stylist. Art Director. Producer. Communication. Key achievements: First ‘brand’ designing militant fashion campaigns in Spain since 2012, portrayed in Barcelona’s street art by SM172. Only Spanish ‘brand’ present in the emerging and so-called ‘contemporary ethnic’ art & design shows in Europe since 2012 such as Labo Ethnik (Paris, 2012), Ethno Tendance (Brussels, 2012), African Street Style (London, 2015 & 2016), and Afropunk (Paris, 2016), to mention a few. Only ‘brand’ dressing the contemporary avant-garde jazz scene, with a Sun Ra-inspired collection and the likes of Zap Mama and Sun Ra Arkestra. Totem Taboo was stocked at Quai Branly Museum in Paris -the biggest museum of anthropology in Europe, and Soboye – the main African fashion hub in London. Since working just on scenic pieces, a unique piece of the first scenic collection ‘Space Age’ was previewed at Africa Utopia Festival with a performance of Kendall Mugler alongside artwork by Manzel Bowman, presented by Baaba Maal, at Southbank, in London, in 2016. Totem Taboo has later been part of the collective and nomadic scenic fashion exhibition ‘Parures’, organised by Paris-based conscious fashion organisation Universal Love, alongside many international avant-garde artists. And another unique piece was previewed at Klimafestivalen’s ‘Parures Frozen Catwalk’ exhibition, in collaboration with Fashion Revolution, in Oslo, Norway, in 2018.
From 2011 to 2016, Cristina participated punctually in a series of public interventions and performances with various grassroots collectives and international social movements: Selva | 2015-2016 – London, UK. London-based collective of performers and activists doing performances and public interventions, led by Brazilian London-based carnival producer-artist and activist Manuela Benini. Our Brixton | 2015 – London, UK. Multi-arts grassroots campaign that aimed to respond to Brixton’s gentrification via public interventions, led by spoken word activist Potent Whisper. Walking Gallery | 2012 – Barcelona, Spain. International social movement of artists bringing their art to the streets under the motto ‘no more walls’ in the form of a walking art gallery, founded by entrepreneur Jose Puig. Projecta(currently called Arde Teatro) | 2011-2013 – Barcelona, Spain. Grassroots social theatre company mostly doing public interventions, active during the Spanish Anti-austerity / Indignats Movement (15-M), the 15th October 2011 Global Protests, and beyond.
Public Intervention Artist – Performer | ‘Trans-form Carnival’ fundraising performance by Selva at The Bussey Building – London, UK, 2016. ‘Movimientos’ 10th anniversary performance by Selva at Rich Mix – London, UK, 2015. ‘Resistance Dance’ public intervention in Tesco supermarket (former community music venue) by Our Brixton – London, UK, 2015. ‘Walking Art Gallery’ public intervention by Walking Gallery – Barcelona, Spain, 2012. ‘Paint your Face’ public intervention by Projecta as part of the Spanish Anti-austerity Movement (15-M) – Barcelona, Spain, 2011. ‘Anti-Xmas Musical’ public intervention by Projecta in Barcelona’s public transport – Barcelona, Spain, 2011. Key achievements: Disrupting everyday life using public interventionist art as critical public pedagogy, in the midst of Brixton’s gentrification or the Spanish Anti-austerity / Indignats social movement (aka 15-M). The 15-M Movement transferred to Europe during the later 15th October 2011 Global Protests the model of the protest camp which had been formed in the Arab Spring, adapting it to a more countercultural framework practising and aiming for direct democracy, and it later expanded to USA influencing the creation of Occupy Wall Street and the following Occupy Movement around the world. Helping to make the first Trans-form Carnival happen in Ahmedabad, India, in 2016. Supporting the most active Latin American cultural organisation in the UK: Movimientos. Democratising art through the social participation of Walking Gallery turned an international social movement active in Europe and Latin America, featured in national and international media such as Spanish TV2, TV3, BTV, Canal 33, and Canal+ France among others, embodying participatory art 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. Paris, 2017