Miladys Parejo, of Encounters Art Space, tells about her virtual migration

We’re now two months into our strange new lives in lockdown – would you like to tell us a bit about how you are adapting to the currently reality?

At the beginning of the lockdown I was a bit uneasy, as the way that I usually I do things had to change. My working experience was largely unaffected as I often work from home. However, I travel quite a lot in relation to Encounters-On-The-Road and have always enjoyed the richness of face-to-face relationships. Encounters’ success has been embedded through close connection and interaction.

When the AOH festival had to be postponed I needed to respond quickly to a new unexpected reality. It was very important for me to be connected with Encounters people and not to disappoint them. So, I decided to migrate from Encounters-On-The-Road to Encounters Virtual @encountersartspace. This was a challenge as the virtual mindset is not my strong point. There was a lot of learning by doing!


You’ve had to change plans quite radically from what you had envisaged for your 11th Open House this May. Would you like to tell us what you had planned to do?

This year, our May Open House Show was ‘Dialogues of Light, Hope and Compassion’. It was being prepared for months with great enthusiasm. This rich and complex edition emerged in the middle of 2019 when a diet of fracture, uncertainty and fear was our daily news. We were expecting artists from Italy, Spain, France, London and Brighton. The Show also had an outdoor installation entitled ‘Environmental Dialogue’ by me in collaboration with Lieberman and Anon.  Children’s participation and artists talks were planned. As usual, Encounters’ kitchen would have been open for Colombian-British fusion food. And many other entertainments had been arranged.


Can you tell us a little about what moving from an actual to a virtual experience has meant for you?

I can say that, since I embraced the virtual experience, I have not had room for boredom! I guess that this is due to the challenge that the ‘Virtual Mind Set’ involves for me. But, the most important outcome is that the decision has been very much appreciated by Encounters’ people. In essence, Encounters is a community of artists that needs to be nurtured. I found Encounters Virtual is a great opportunity to honour the work of our artists and reach a wider audience. I could not have done it alone. Thanks to Encounters artists, Yole Qunitero @yole.qr and other collaborators our virtual venture is starting with a very ‘good vibe’.


 Have there been any benefits to you personally from the changes you have had to make?

One thing that I particularly enjoy is to empty my head writing our editorial newsletters. It gives me freedom, just as if I am working on my art installations. The opportunity to share my insights, feelings and concerns is quite liberating., I have an opportunity to move into new areas of interest and reach people that I know and many others that I do not know at all.



 Do you think these changes will be useful in thinking and working in different ways in the future?

Undoubtedly yes, to learn a new skill is always an asset. Even though it had to be tackled under pressure. I am sure that in the future Encounters will have both a physical and virtual presence. A good dose of agility in a mindset is essential when uncertainty reigns and our lives change rapidly. In the years to come, finding new ways to do things seems to be inevitable.

credit: Sculpture by Rafael Barrios


 Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

In the light of our current changing environment, I hope our art community is getting the best from any opportunities resulting from current changes, in order to be more able to face an uncertain near future. Two things are important for me. The first is just how much working and being with art is a solace during difficult times. Secondly, emerging technologies have much to offer but the real art is deeply human and will remain so. A kind of hybrid may need to be practiced in the meantime.


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