Audiovisual programs

To Know, We Must Imagine!

To Know, We Must Imagine! is an audiovisual programme included in the set of activities stemming from the Subplots project launched by Diego del Pozo, Montse Romaní and Virginia Villaplana within the 2011-2012 Research Residencies scheme at Reina Sofía Contemporary Art Museum in Madrid.


SESSION 1 : Collaborative Practices and New Imaginaries

Petra Bauer
Sweden/UK, 2011


SESSION 2 : Experimenting with Image Reception

Nightcleaners (Part 1)
Berwick Street Collective
UK, 1972-75
Beta SP


SESSION 3 : Collaborative Practices and New Imaginaries II

Read the Masks: Tradition is not given

Annette Kraus y Petra Bauer
Holland, 2009


SESSION 4 : Learning across Images. Formal and Non-formal Critical Education


Cine sin Autor

Spain, 2010-2011

Supposing I love you. And you also love me
Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Holland, 2011


Scuola senza fine
Adriana Monti     
Italy, 1983



Subplots is the title of a research and joint learning project on practices of collaborative audiovisual production. In Subplots, collaborative art practices dealing with the moving image are the focus for a journey of aesthetic experimentation exploring the intersections between visual culture, education, participatory democracy, and everyday life.


The artistic practices in the Subplots project are connected with radical pedagogy in a broad sense, inasmuch as they are defined in terms of their deconstructive, transformative function, as opposed to the dominant narratives inscribed in images of an affirmative, reproductive nature. Achieving a political ethics in the construction of collective imaginaries required placing the collaborative approach to representation in a central role, as the key element structuring the practices the project sought to explore. Collaboration overflows the boundaries of such notions as authorship, authority or authenticity to achieve a truly shared work. Collaboration is not to be understood as the simple addition of several agents’ work, or the mere accumulation of their energies, but as a process whereby the self-questioning of one’s own work, one’s own ideas and methods, is shared with others on a permanent basis, generating a re-arrangement or assemblage (a Deleuzian agencement) of the sensibilities involved. This means breaking free from the conventions governing time, the division of cultural labour, and the productive forces required to jointly create discourses, practices, networks and even realities.


Collaborative work does not shirk away from- but rather integrates and builds upon- complexity and conflict, and its end results arise from a collective commitment that sustains all the values shaping an audiovisual production. The collaborative approach to representation entails therefore coming to terms with images that may speak, act and participate, and stake themselves out as social spaces in their own right. Through the manifestations of this new approach, power-knowledge relationships as expressed in image production are challenged by an exploration of new forms of visual knowledge based on collective thought and action; new forms capable of generating new symbolic imaginaries which are not merely concerned with subjects, but arise from those subjects’ own actions. The field of image production thus embraces a constructionist trend that valorises situated and “lesser” or “minor” knowledges, over and against structures of judgement and productivity deriving from received models of learning still in thrall to patterns of discipline and control. By contrast, the Subplots research project develops a range of practices energising the critical knowledge that results from experiences of cooperation, and encourages alternative forms of social coexistence.


Subplots develops a genealogy of expanded audiovisual practices whose main contributions include incorporating discourses from outside the domain of aesthetic debates, connecting the said debates to issues of co-learning and politics, and amplifying their critical dimension to transform the normativised structures, mechanisms and relationships regulating the production and dissemination of institutional knowledge.


In the context of this project, a highly significant frame of reference is to be found in the politically motivated cultural movements which flourished forty years ago- a reference rendered all the more relevant in light of the social repercussions of the current political cycle. Certain groups of British filmmakers and Latin America film collectives in the 1970s, for instance, experimented with highly creative modes of production and distribution in the context of the social struggles at that time. Although the structures of today’s digital culture place quite different requirements on audiovisual works, recent debates on the disproportionate impact that cuts in public spending and new types of restrictions (such as privatisation, new copyright regulations, etc) are having on the cultural sphere- at a time when all notions of the commons seem to be in crisis- highlight once again the need to rebuild a politically conscious vision of culture, as a space for the construction of the commons through new configurations of political struggle.


The To Know, We Must Imagine! Programme unfolds through a series of audiovisual experiments incorporating co-learning processes, or tangentially activating a dimension of radical pedagogy linked to both historical and current referents, in order to build new imaginaries that stand as alternatives to the dominant modes of knowledge production governing the relationships between society, art and culture. The project thus upholds the imagination in its political capacity as one of the powers of subjectivity, ideation and memory, within the framework of cultural institutions whose codes, symbols, and operational protocols have all too often been disciplined at the expense of the truly subversive potential of the imagination.


Screenings 1 and 2 in the To Know… Programme are titled “Collaborative Practices and New Imaginaries”, and “Experimenting with Image Reception”, respectively. The works screened exemplify attempts to turn filmmaking into an alternative tool for social intervention through processes of participatory action. Sisters! (2011) originated in collaboration between artist Petra Bauer and a London-based feminist organization that has been working for the protection of the rights of women from ethnic minorities since 1979. Choosing Nightcleaners/part 1 (1972-75) for the second screening deliberately hints at a cross-historical link with Sisters! which underscores the paradoxes involved in the process of image reception and collectivisation within social struggles, both in the 1970s and nowadays.


Screenings 3 and 4, under the titles “Collaborative Practices and New Imaginaries 2”, and “Learning across Images. Formal and Non-formal Critical Education” are devoted to audiovisual experiments where students, teachers and autonomous groups cooperate in co-learning environments.  As in the previous screenings, chronological disparity between different productions highlights the interplay between images and dialogic exchanges configuring spaces of cultural and intellectual resistance.

The first screening of the programme took place  at the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid on April 2012