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The public call out for the inaugural CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2021 initiative asked audiences to submit a 2.5 minute film in response to the theme ‘Communion’ set by interdisciplinary artist and lecturer, Angel Rose. After receiving 2,000 applications, we are proud to present the 30 finalists who will each receive access to the Dazed Space and have their work exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme, appearing across public screens in London, Tokyo and Seoul this September.

Expanding on their commitment to help support the talent of tomorrow, CIRCA and Dazed appointed a community of jurors including Cauleen Smith, Frank Lebon, Hugo Comte, Simone Rocha, Dexter Navy, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Michele Lamy to select their top 5 submissions. From this, one lucky finalist will be selected by world renowned performance artist Marina Abramović to receive the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000.

With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, this joint initiative aims to empower the next generation of artists working in moving-image by platforming new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and the tools to help kick start their careers.

How did you become an artist and what was your route to your current practice?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
It is now clear to me, that since I was I child I have had a patent interest in art. However, at the time of choosing a career option, I deviated from that path for a while. After some time and dissatisfaction, I later swapped to an art major. It was a fruitful process which led me to dedicate myself fully and comprehensively to art. Part of my actual practice is influenced by this experience of trying something more socially “useful” and the pressures, or demands, we are submitted by capitalism.

What inspires you to make your work?

Basically, my work is inspired by the systematic contradictions founded in the contemporary capitalist society. I explore the ambiguity present in our acts and activities. I believe that the readymade paradigm has been imbued in all economic and production levels of society, and I’m very interested in it’s reciprocity towards art. That is why, such phenomena as: mass customization, the super-valuation of authenticity and the production of neoliberal crafts, among others, have become of vital importance to my practice.

Can you identify any elements of your community or collaborators that have had a strong influence?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
I have a close group of visual artists, we support each other in most our projects. It has been a way of overcoming the usual precariousness present in the Colombian art world. At the same time, it has become an example on how art can help to build community and lead to more comunal practices. We have build an artist collective called “Salida de Emergencia” which advocates for more open source and liberated projects.

Would you consider your practice to have a positive social impact, and if so in what way?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
It encourages critical approaches to social issues which affect, and have effects in all human levels. It is not driven to generate a positive effect, but it generates the possibility for it to happen, by dissecting the mechanisms of exploitation hidden under normal social exchange activities.

How is your project tied to the Circa x Dazed Class of 20:21 theme of ‘Communion’?:

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
This project is composed of the images produced by applying all instagram filters to a blank image. These filters are meant to stimulate an engagement with the constant flow of content production through the app. Everyone takes part in a ritual of consumption and production of images, but this images are not as heterogeneous as they appear. We share an instance of diversity, but when the mechanism of production is revealed, it seems we are imbued in a setup full of simulated authenticity. We commune in name of ambiguity.

Has your work been recognised by any public bodies or organisations in the past?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
In particular the artwork submitted to Class of 2021 has not been recognized by any organization. On the other hand, I have been awarded the recognition of the XVII Salon Regional exhibition granted by the Colombian Ministry of Culture, and the first prize in the PUA VIII granted by Uniandinos. Lastly, I was shortlisted to FRAGMENTOS, intervention organized part by the Ministry of Culture and part by the National Museum of Colombia.

How would the #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 impact your future practice?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
The prize would give me a much more stable position to develop my practice. For me, finding the budget to create my more ambitious and desired pieces has been a constant struggle. I try to always help myself from funds offered by the Colombian government through open calls as I’m committed to finding ways of financing my own projects. However, it is a very unsteady path, considering being an artist is my full time job. This prize would give me enough platform to regularize my practice and grow independently, being finally able to not leave aside the projects that I currently struggle to prioritize in a budget that have a wider social impact.

What would you do with the money?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
Part of the money, would be destined to support the production of my future artworks, strengthening my artistic practice. The rest of it, would be used to give funding to an artist’s run space (Cachorra) co-founded by me. This space is focused on giving the opportunity of having a first solo exhibition to emerging artists. It is really difficult to find a space in Bogota, that is willing to commit on producing a first solo show. So focusing my efforts on keeping a space like this running, has been one of my most recent important projects.

If you are awarded the #CIRCAECONOMY prize, how might this affect your community?

NICOLÁS BARRERA MARTÍNEZ:
As this price brings with it such opportunity of promoting an artist’s independence, I want to focus on becoming a renovating and autonomous agent in Colombia’s art world. To be able to promote a more fair and democratic entrance to incoming artists and to activate the whole sector of artist’s run spaces. It also will help me to build a stronger sense of association, and how people partake in public artistic practice. It is at the end a prize that promotes visibility not only to my own practice, but to the more direct projects I have created to change Bogotá’s art community from some time now.