Newsletter, March 2016


Arts and Humanities Civic Engagement


Cultural Agents is an interface between academic learning and civic engagement. The Initiative promotes arts and humanities as social resources.



  • ACT in MIT presents Future Island: Cuba
ACT’s Spring 2016 lecture series Curation: Agencies + Urgencies addresses the contexts and forces shaping the practice of curation today.
  • WHEN: March 7, 2016, 6:00 – 8.00pm
  • WHERE: Wiesner Bldg (E15-001) Lower Level, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge
  • WHATFuture Island: Cuba
    Alejandro de la Fuente (Harvard), with Magdalena Campos-Pons (SMFA), Doris Sommer (Harvard), and Timothy Hyde (MIT)
  • Mahindra Seminar “Cultural and Humanitarian Agents” and WCIFA Seminar “Connectionists and Facilitators”:  

Women Health Providers in Rural Kenya: Dialogue between Araceli Alonso and Jennifer Leaning 

  • WHEN: March 23, 2016, 4:00 – 6:00pm
  • WHERE: Thompson Room, Mahindra Center, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • WHAT: Dr. Araceli Alonso and Dr. Jennifer Leaning on their personal and professional experience about public health and human rights.
  • Pre-Texts in Bahamas with IDB
  • WHEN: March 14-18, 2016
  • WHERE: Nassau-Bahamas
  • WHAT: In alliance with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), professor Doris Sommer and Marco Abarca will facilitate a Pre-Text workshop in Nassau. The artist Jay Critchley will also be present to support the workshop and make an audiovisual recording.

General News: Cultural Agents

Simón Hosie at Mahindra Seminar “Cultural and Humanitarian Agents” and participating in a Pre-Texts workshop

Simón Hosie, like many other cultural agents, thinks like an artist. This, needless to say, makes him an artist. But also happens to make him an innovative and unique architect, a bed-anthropologist, an ethnographer, a teacher, a designer, a storyteller, and a policymaker, among many other things. He works in the margins of the formal city, by engaging with underprivileged communities and producing transformative projects in collaboration with them; and of the art world, because he refuses to follow any imposed or suggested paths by the market, art history or social conventions.

During the last week of February 2016, Hosie visited Boston, invited by the Cultural Agents Initiative in association with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. His visit was part of the academic programming accompanying the exhibition “Prosthetic Realities: Fake Truths and True Lies in Colombian Contemporary Art” on view at Harvard from September 2015 until April 2016.

Like any artist, he succeeded in making several interesting things at once. On Tuesday, he delivered a talk at the Mahindra Humanities Center, where he presented Planos Vivos, an interactive platform he designed for gathering and mapping qualitative data and using it in the development of architectural projects.

On Wednesday, he participated in a Pre-Texts workshop, where students, professors, and friends, including the famous Chilean poet, Raúl Zurita, came together to analyze his text and work of art Carta de vida de una lavandera–a piece he did in 2009 responding to artist Beatriz Gonzalez’s invitation to intervene one of her works, which was being reproduced in a local newspaper.

– Jerónimo Duarte Riascos, curator of
Prosthetic Realities Fake Truths and True Lies in Colombian Contemporary Art

Art and Reconciliation: Place, contributions and responsibilities of the arts in the post-according


In the past month, in Universidad de los Andres, Colombia, was held a dialogue about the relationship between art and the construction of peace. The Colombian architect, coordinator and capacity builder of Pre-Texts, Victoria Eugenia Mena participated on it. She shared with us:

“In Colombia, we have lived diverse scenarios of negotiations between the government and armed groups, we have also lived through a complex process of demobilization of one side of the main actors in the conflict. Currently, we are facing the challenge of the post-accordance as a result of dialogues with the FARC. Within this panorama, the preoccupations and question over the role of the arts for the construction of peace arise. This question guided our talk in order to amplify reflections, update debates, and promote new concerns over the place, contributions, possibilities, and the responsibilities of the arts in the current scenario of the country.”

– Victoria Mena, Capacity Builder and Coordinator Pre-Texts,
Associate Professor in Jorge Tadeo Lozano University

General News: Pre-Texts

Pre-Texts in Futura Schools,
Arequipa, Perú


Last February, I participated as facilitator in a Pre-Texts workshop in Futura Schools (Arequipa, Peru). The workshop lasted for five sessions over three days, and they were really intense. Our pre-text was the first chapter of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980). This text is about the vastness and mystery of our universe and it has a language rich in scientific vocabulary and information. It is not an easy text but with Pre-texts’ techniques the participants could interpret it through the work with materials (cardboard books), theatre (Augusto Boal’s techniques) and even fashion design. They played with the text! What I think it was great about this experience is the way a text can find infinite ways to be expressed depending on each person interests (“irse por las ramas”). There are no limits for a text and it can become a song, a human statute, a class activity, etc.

Especially interesting for me was the activity (taken from Boal’s Games for Actors and Non Actors) which consisted in creating a tragedy in groups and then representing it. After the representation, one person volunteers to change the end of the tragedy showing that fate, destiny, can be transformed and that nothing, even tragedy, is forever. I consider this activity as a powerful technique to empower teachers, students in schools, especially in high-risk neighborhoods. Last but not least, this experience was incredibly enriching for me not only because I always learn something new with Pre-Texts but also because it was in my country, in Peru!, and having  the possibility of sharing what I am doing at Harvard there was an experience that I will never forget! Thanks!

– Javier Suárez, doctoral student Romances Languages and Literature Department,
Harvard University, Pre-Texts Capacity Builder

Featured Story

Using Art as City Problem Solver

Mayor Martin Walsh and the City of Boston are embedding artists in governmental departments to help stimulate new thinking and different forms of problem solving. Three artists will be granted a six-month residency in order to incorporate new approaches into city departments and to promote creative thinking about municipal government.For full article see:

Please see our calendar on the Cultural Agents website for more information on our upcoming events:


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Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
March 2, 2016
by Rodriguez