Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park—a pop-up cultural park created by Alejandro Haiek Coll and Eleanna Cadalso in Caracas, Venezuela—won the first International Award for Public Art (IAPA) in 2013. Now the park is the subject of a feature-length documentary planned by Minnesota filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson.
Mikkelson first heard about the project from Jack Becker, executive director of Forecast Public Art and co-organizer of the Award initiative, and she says she was drawn to the project’s “vibrant individuals creating art that changes a community in real and lasting ways.”
The park was developed on an abandoned parking lot back in 2006. The idea, according to its founders, was to create a hub for cultural and artistic events and youth programming, while increasing gathering space in the city.
To keep costs low, the space was constructed with recycled shipping containers, which can be reconfigured and expanded in virtually endless combinations. Since its founding, the park has expanded and now includes classrooms, dining spaces, green spaces, a radio station, and a music-editing studio. The space is self-sustaining with resources and art created by residents and artists.
The project is a good fit for Mikkelson’s passions. “I’ve become more and more interested in the intersection between the creation of art and true community impact,” says Mikkelson, who created a ten-minute trailer for the feature, which she’s titled Shaping the Public.
The trailer captures the eclectic and vibrant activities in the park, which is situated on the border of one of Caracas’s densely packed favelas, and reflects the hip-hop art scene of the city’s sprawling slums. Originally planned as a six-month intervention, the cultural space endures, according to architect and co-founder Alejandro Haiek Coll, in part because it is “a project born from real needs.” Since being awarded the prestigious IAPA, Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park has been designated as a cultural heritage site, preserving it forever from demolition.
Mikkelson shot the trailer with a Venezuelan film crew, whom she directed via Skype from her office in Red Wing, Minnesota; the short also features music created by artists at Tiuna. “It’s a truly international production,” she says. She hopes the trailer will generate the funding needed to shoot the feature-length film.