The biblical Babel, the besieged city in The Iliad, the polis in The Eumenides, the Baghdad in The Thousand and One Nights and ‘a place’ in La Mancha in Don Quixote, Dickens’s visions of London, the Paris described by Balzac, Baudelaire, Victor Hugo and Zola, the Lisbon captured by Fernando Pessoa, or Álvaro de Campos, Ricardo Reis, Alberto Caeiro or Bernardo Soares; the Buenos Aires related by Borges and Cortázar, the Barcelona we discover in Eduardo Mendoza, the Madrid characterised by Javier Marías, and the New York depicted by Paul Auster … All these show us that the city—with the countryside as an inseparable associate and the sea as an ally—has always been literature, an open, endless text, a book—Max Aub’s, ‘that we read as we walk, that we read with our feet,’ and that we overwrite or rewrite at each step with a new sensitivity.
Yet this ‘book’ requires the continuous exercise of writing; it grows and shines thanks to its inhabitants; its destiny depends on them alone: they give it its identity, define its profile and trace its possibilities. It’s a swarm of individualities and groups eager to tell their story and stage their lives. Thus in 2012 we spread a blank page over the urban territory to encourage all those who had something to contribute, to say, explain, demand or just relate to do so, and consequently emerge as the leading character in a book called ‘Mula.’
Mula is a platform that has no defined intellectual properties although all are welcome. It belongs to nobody and to everybody. Our functions are to steer talent towards it, position itself within it and promote its abilities and discourses; to create alliances—sometimes inconceivable, and provide tools for its survival. And once a year we come together and celebrate at Mulafest.
In 2003 the film Dammi i Colori was released and its director, Anri Sala, chatted with his friend, and then Mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, about Return to Identity, the project that enabled him to give the corrupt and impoverished public space of his city back to its rightful owners—the citizens. With a minimum budget, the illegal buildings erected on municipal land began to be demolished, green areas were designed and a huge operation was initiated in collaboration with residents and local artists to paint the façades of derelict buildings in bright colours, thus changing the appearance of the Albanian capital for once and for all. Through Street Art, Mula pursues the same objectives: claiming the streets for the people and the artistic occupation of the city, as we have been stressing.
The Kasbah is the historical quarter of Algiers, declared Humanity Heritage by UNESCO in 1992. However, for a number of years it had suffered deterioration that concealed the beauty and pride of the city’s history. Its days of splendour gave this Mediterranean port the nickname ‘La Blanche [The White]’ because of the colour of its buildings. And it was this aesthetic feature that set the Boa Mistura group to work: hand in hand with local artists and residents of the area, making their walls and neighbours glow like they did before and restoring the identity they had lost in the decadence of recent years. At Mula we support the initiative, that was also backed by the Instituto Cervantes in Algiers.
Ifema is the main Spanish operator in the sector of conventions and one of the most important in Europe. In recent years, as a result of the economic crisis and the deterioration of the traditional fair model, the company has begun to organise events for the general public. So, early in 2012 it joined forces with Mula for the celebration of Mulafest. While the first year the event focused on ephemeral activities, the second year the Ifema management realised the opportunity it had to come into closer contact with younger audiences: thanks to our mediation, the façades and exterior spaces were given over to Aryz, Boa Mistura, Herbert Baglione, Okuda, San, Sixe Paredes and Suso33, that did not only create an oeuvre—today its legacy in the institution, but raised a certain way of city life to unknown heights.
Madrid Street Art Project is an association that intends to support, appraise and promote street art by organising different activities such as guided tours and workshops, mediating between artists and managers of public spaces in order to highlight the value of street art and its creators among citizens. Today they manage one of their most ambitious projects, Línea Zero, that consists of taking the most avant-garde artistic expressions to various underground stations of the Madrid metro. The Mula community gave its support to this relevant project for the city knowledge by offering its communication networks, and gifted its ‘urban safaris’—or tourist routes in the huge museum as the streets of Madrid are.
Before it was raised to the category of art, in its most primeval sense dance was a form of communication. To dance, above all, is to establish an active connection between man and nature, and it is our first synthetic and aesthetic knowledge of the world, immediately prior to the concept of the word. The fact is that in primitive societies dance was the vehicle for conveying ideas and feelings; even at moments of celebration of life and death, the rhythmic movement of the body conveys the joy of arriving and the pain of leaving. As such it is understood by the Mula community: although the sounds of nature first led to body percussion and then to musical instruments, today dance is a channel through which our message comes into contact with the environment, the channel through which Mula speaks to the city. Our function is to be a channel for consolidating unthinkable alliances between those who had something to say and needed the power of dance to be heard.
The General Traffic Board—DGT, requested the services of Idonika for its new advertising campaign that intended to make young people aware of the importance of road safety. Our proposal consisted of building a bridge between the newly born Mula community and the DGT: from the very beginning we felt that the foundation of such alliances could help all parties—who don’t have many occasions to meet, to prove their worth and possibilities. The result was that message receivers became message transmitters, and dance became their vehicle of expression. The company founded by Rubén Nsué—Lokomamía, conceived and performed the choreography of that summer’s advertisement warning of the dangers of alcohol and drugs when driving.
Despite now being generic, the term ‘motorcyclette’ was originally a name registered in 1897 by Eugene and Michel Werner, brothers of Russian descent established in Paris who were the first to mount an engine on the front wheel of a bicycle. Since then, the history and culture surrounding the vehicle would evolve and expand: in 1902 Georges Gautier invented the Scooter in France, and the first Sidecars appeared in 1910. One of the most significant moments in this history came after World War Two, when American soldiers began to alter their Harley Davidsons and Indians to resemble the motorbikes they had used during their European venture—voilà the Custom Motorbike. Although there are many other chapters, the friendliness nurtured by the soldiers back from the front became the common denominator. This is the story that Mula wants to tell and to promote: the importance of the journey and the company we choose for our trip on two wheels.
The first Lisbon Art & Moto event welcomed motorbike lovers. During two days the representatives of Vintage, Cafe Racer and Custom shared the backdrop of the Portuguese capital with visual arts, literature and music. The event could subsequently be evoked in the exhibition held in one of the most emblematic bookshops in Lisbon, Ler Devagar, where Spanish and Portuguese artists recorded the experience. The Mula community gave its support to the event through its communication channels, and a fair number of their representatives travelled from Madrid to Lisbon to celebrate a way of life. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world!