Colectiva was an event that took place in Buenos Aires in 2002 and made use of the art circuit’s infrastructure to pose questions about the value system operating in the art world at that particular point in Argentina. Back in 2002, art dealer Luisa Pedrouzo invited me to have a solo show at her gallery in Buenos Aires, after the country had just fallen into a devastating financial, institutional and political crisis that vertiginously dragged more than half of the Argentine population below the poverty line. Luisa Pedrouzo’s gallery was situated in the upmarket area of the city, which became very attractive to a growing social group of Argentineans: the “cartoneros”, citizens who would find themselves forced to scavenge the rubbish left in the street looking for scraps to sell and for decomposing food remains to eat. Colectiva set off to question the meaning of the practices in the local art scene and found answers by including those in need.

The temporary community formed around the project encompassed a group of neighbours, a school, a contemporary art gallery, art collectors and colleague artists. The group worked together in three situations. An art workshop was addressed to the children of the cartoneros’ families; its underlying theme was a collective birthday party. Then the party took place, and finally, the remains of the party were turned into artworks to be shown at the gallery. The profit obtained from the sales was turned -by the will of children taking part in the project- into a community library for Escuela N° 15 Dante Alighieri in José C. Paz, Buenos Aires Province, where the project started.