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Gasworks presents La Escuela, a film by Seth Pimlott developed in collaboration with organisations from the Latin American community of South London. Join us to launch the project at a special event at Gasworks on Friday 20 April, 6:30pm – 8:30pm.

La Escuela looks at the transmission of cultural identity between generations. It celebrates the ability to imagine oneself into the future, whilst reconciling the loss bound up in such a leap.

Seth Pimlott is the inaugural Gasworks Participation Artist in Residence, a programme which supports London-based artists to develop a piece of work in collaboration with local community groups. The programme aims to incorporate the artist’s own practice as a means of developing a cohesive project with an overall output at the end of the 6 – 12 month residency.

Between September 2016 and 2017, Seth Pimlott ran workshops with community groups including Escuela Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Spanish-language Saturday School in Kennington; Sin Fronteras, a young women’s support and political advocacy group organised by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service; Cali Swing Dance School, the largest salsa academy in the UK ; and activists from the Pueblito Paisa campaign in Seven Sisters. The workshops explored the intersection of personal biographies with national histories, including the violent conflicts that forced some families to flee abroad. Collective and creative engagement with these histories became the basis for reimagining personal narratives, which has informed the story told in La Escuela.

The film takes the form of a school assembly, incorporating and reinterpreting the complex musical and aesthetic heritage of the community. The lead character is Mariana, a female spirit, an avatar of the intellectual and imaginative work of the women involved in the project. She guides us through a story of migration, hardship and the coming together of communities in the face of the systemic forces that threaten them. Three individuals from the participating organisations play Mariana at different stages of her life: as a young child growing up in Colombia, as a teenager arriving into the UK, and then as an adult who has established a life and set up La Escuela Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

“Mariana's film is very important for us because it shows the greatest cause of the Colombian mass emigration and the consequences that are suffered by the people due to indiscriminate violence.

Collaborating in the different stages of the filming has been very interesting and satisfying for the children, teachers, youth and adults who participated, as well as for me. The film has fulfilled my dream of uniting different generations, cultures, Latin American projects and British entities in a common goal: to foster union, understanding and tolerance of people of different ages, gender and cultures in favour of a harmonic multicultural society.” - Marlen Cabezas, Head teacher at Escuela De Gabriel Garcia Marquez.