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La Ruidosa Oficina

The Party as a Space for Reflection

La Ruidosa Oficina is an artistic and cultural management and mediation collective based in Costa Rica, which uses the festive dynamics of coming together in joint learning. Its transdisciplinary nature comes from the individual contributions of its members, Marga Sequeira, Catalina Tenorio and Mariela Richmond, addressing interests that range from corporeality, dance, sexuality, feminist theory, cinematography, graphic and set design, and social anthropology. Together, they reflect upon and share experiences about their individual work and journeys.

La Ruidosa Oficina.



We —Catalina, Mariela and Marga— came together to work on art, education and management in 2018, after meeting at a workshop on artistic mediation tools given by Carmen Oviedo, from Pedagogías Invisibles [‘Invisible Pedagogies’]. We were inspired by a shared intuition about how this practice of art conceived of as epistemology corresponded to the way in which we already approached some aspects of our individual practices. It was a very organic coming together that eventually led us to think of joint projects, stemming from what we called at the time art-education.

We were inspired by the freedom and openness that we found in this hybrid practice. Over time, we have understood that we are also united by the need to collectively construct approaches that are less formal and institutional, and more collective. Creating a network among ourselves was a first step towards thinking about building networks with other people who do the same in Costa Rica, our country, and also within the region.

We have found many strengths in hybridization and interdisciplinarity. The three of us do things from different places, we work with a different logic, but we have shared interests, desires, micropolitics, positions and work ethics. When all that closeness and divergence comes together, beautiful and powerful things happen.


Our reflections address issues related to collective spaces and teaching-learning processes, but we do not seek to understand them formally. Instead, we explore internally, transversally, micropolitically: How are these collective spaces managed? In what ways is information shared? What is it that is shared? Through teaching practices, we have learned what is perhaps the most hidden aspect; how collective spaces work and the diverse and particular processes of each person within the collective.

We see our work as the exercise of artistic thought. Any work that emerges from an exploratory process containing artistic elements can be an artistic practice, regardless of the discipline in which it is exercised. Therefore, educational work can also be artistic work, possessing as much potential to be artistic as it does to be educational. We are not interested in exploring limiting factors, preferring instead to ignore limitations.

Currently, our work is about devising, conceptualizing, designing, managing, executing and reflecting upon processes that work with and for collectives, based on the practices and epistemological principles of art, in order to create spaces for learning and reflection.


Our communal construction process happens not only in the workshops, but also from the moment we get together to work. We come from different academic and professional backgrounds, including theater and activism, and this has allowed us to understand the need to work together and with others, not only because it enriches the process, but also because it would not be possible any other way.
Our shared starting point is critical pedagogy.

We read and cite Mônica Hoff, Ivan Illich, Paulo Freire and Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui. We are also influenced by poetic references in the more formal aspects of our projects, from the performing arts, design and the visual arts in general. We use many performative tools and, recently, we have been exploring sound and audiovisual language. In some of our mediations, we have activated texts by different playwrights, such as Rodrigo García, or literary texts by Georges Perec, Verónica Gerber, Alejandro Zambra...



There is no standardized form, each project’s requirements are related to its context. Sometimes, someone will bring a triggering idea, experience or reference, or something will come up in a conversation with somebody. We think of ways to connect with the context and with the people participating, and ways in which they can connect with each other. We are interested in the mobilizing idea arising from honesty, from a situated exercise; that is, from listening and true observation.

Copying is one of our favorite practices. We take, change and reference different things each time: a format, a visual proposal, the result of some experience, an everyday event. That is how we came to talk about hacking: taking something and transforming it according to your own needs, always naming the place from which the idea came. We have incorporated this strategy transversally and almost unconsciously into all our projects, as an internal process that enables us to dismantle power, do things differently, listen, accept the context, let go of structures, take risks and explore more easily.


Contingency is our favorite stratagem. We strive to minimize internal uncertainty in the initial process, but in mediation we surrender to the idea that whatever happens, we trust the process, the methodology and the devices we design. But, above all, we aim to be present: to feel the tempos and energies of individuals, observe, listen and give space to the event.

Incorporating contingency or intuition is also possible because of the trust we have in each other, we feel that LaRuidosa is a safe space to engage in play and test ideas. We trust in each other’s intuition, criteria and commitment. That, together with the communication we have developed in these three years working together, allows us to work more fluidly when time is short (which is almost always).

Although we try to vindicate error as a creative trigger, it is difficult to let go of certain things. We are structured and perfectionist; when we are designing, we try to think of everything, but when we mediate, we know that we have no control over anything. We try to embrace that idea and make it central during the encounter. This does not mean that it is easy, or that we always do it well, but that is the premise.


Usually, we begin by designing a common starting point, an approach to the aims of the encounter. Then, we might divide topics or ideas to work on, with each of us choosing their own approach; or we might work collectively on the entire design of the mediation. This method slows everything down, but we recognize that the result is always much richer.

We are interested in the reflections that we can bring individually, as well as the frictions, tensions, wanderings and expansions that those triggers produce in us. Sometimes, one of us proposes an exercise, the other questions it, and the third modifies the original idea. Together, we create the final concept. This allows us to constantly learn from each other, as well as to incorporate tools learned from the collective into our individual practices. A vicious circle worth journeying.


We work through a performance exercise, we like action. We think/we feel/we are body. We use elements to create a scene or ambiance: we place objects, we adjust lights, we think about the layout of the space and the bodies that are going to use it. We always share something to drink and eat, and we have a playlist for each mediation. In online encounters, we ask each person to feel and think their space, to take a moment to acknowledge the place and give a special character to the encounter. Small actions that take the mediation beyond the everyday.

We like to connect in advance with those with whom we are going to work, and so we try to send a message first (an email, audio, a question...). Then, organically, this can lead to a correspondence exercise: delivering something, waiting for the reply, finalizing the project, but knowing that the correspondence remains open for sending-receiving something at any time. The encounter, the coexistence, the exchange, form the basis of what we do, and so it is important to create a willingness; that is why what we do is performative and affective: it is a celebration of the encounter.

In the written word we also find possibilities for sharing ideas, doubts and reflections, through manifestos. We have several themes: the party, the Non-School, correspondence. They all contain questions (often unanswered) and positions that are clarified from our point of enunciation.

The importance we give to systematizing and organizing our processes has manifested itself in a liking for the idea of the archive; we are planning poetic documentation exercises through which to continue building our own. The archive includes all the projects/mediations/meetings: materials, references, documenting of activities, poetic documentation. Everything is stored on our Drive, shown on social networks, and shared at the next event. Another vicious circle that makes us proud.


We believe that our work also contains an element of cultural management. We are interested in generating collective spaces, exercising networking and building community. Our projects are born from themes, needs, or the desire to learn, ours or those of the communities involved.

If we talk about precariousness, scarce resources and a shortage of spaces in our context, we must also talk about generosity, an abundance of knowledge, and tools that we discover when we approach other people to hold meetings, inviting them as guest mediators. In many cases, we try to ensure that they are people not closely associated with spaces for art, but rather people who are experts in the issues with which we are engaging.

We are interested in providing a space for consensus and collective building, so the design of the encounters is intended to generate the possibility of listening to individual voices and then sharing them as a collective voice, which makes it possible to experience multiple perspectives. We are clear that we do not create the sessions alone, and that the projects exist because there are many individuals making them happen through different roles.

La Ruidosa Oficina working from a transdisciplinary perspective.


In Progress

This year we have been invited to work on projects leading to some type of publication; this has given us the opportunity to work on the written word and thought. We are reflecting on our working process in relation to sustainability and our self-exploitation; we are also engaged in thinking about the Latin American context, through participation in international networks and reaching out to other collectives.

Our thought revolves around a concept of the Non-School which we now understand in a more expanded form, as a way of naming a methodological practice that is contained in all our processes, and which has to do with putting caring, affection and desires at the center of collective processes. We use the party-learning metaphor as an image to fully realize the way we want these spaces to function; without denying complexity, without shying away from conflict, but making a space for the celebratory, the volitional, the subjective, the informal, for curiosity and desire.

The notion of ritual is bound up in what we think of as teaching-learning spaces, in relation to the stimulation of the senses, the exaltation of space, the recognition of subjectivities. All the other elements (performance, correspondence, manifestos, the archives and the hack) are dependent upon the creation of that ritual.

In Retrospect

At the beginning of 2020, we were planning to embark upon a project that we were very excited about: The Non-School: Ceremony of the Organs. We envisioned it as a permanent collective space (for at least one year) in which to explore non-hegemonic knowledge using the body as a starting point and poetic link. We learned many things while we were designing the space and, in response to the unforeseen, we had to make decisions along the way regarding the group’s conformation and dynamics. Finally, time and the pandemic diluted many aspects of the project. It was a big challenge to think about how to translate our work onto a screen, how to manage the collective encounter while everyone was in their own home. We had to accept that what we had imagined could not be fully realized: no hugs, no chatting afterwards over a beer.

Another change was financial. Initially, the plan was for a mediation every six weeks, but the institution providing the financing reduced that to a total of four, including what we had already completed. This made us think and prioritize projects that would allow for actions from individual space: cooking, taking a LESCO class1 and assembling and studying our family tree.

All these setbacks, doubts, the inexperience and everything else, triggered reflections regarding space. But it has been the ongoing and extended nature of this project that has taught us the most about our methodologies, principles and ways of operating. The idea of the expanded Non-School is a concept that has emerged now, a year later. It has only been possible for us to think about our ‘noisy principles’ via that idea because the space was sustained over time. As a process, it has not ended, and it is transforming itself into a compression of our actions.


When thinking about design, we are interested in knowing the space in which we are going to work, in some cases in a geographical sense, in others in a social sense, or even an emotional sense, and at times in all three ways. That is why we started the correspondence exercise. From that approach of affection and care, we feel that the context is also what is happening in the encounter: the energy, participation or non-participation, weariness or enthusiasm. We address all this in the moment. We know that the design can continue to change right up to the end of the encounter.

Our own context is also present. Sometimes we are tired, affected or in conflict. We have decided to express the place in which we find ourselves when we feel that it is necessary. At other times, in a less visible manner, we name our context in relation to sustainability and our work. Sometimes, questions emerge from this naming: Why do we mediate? Why is it important to us? Through all this, we try —although we are not always successful— to generate alternatives for encounters and learning that respond to local and individual needs.

La Ruidosa Oficina: Activation of Artistic and Cultural Projects together with the ADIs. Municipality of Moravia, Costa Rica, 2020.

Other reflections

We have more questions than certainties about what we do. Understanding how we work is an ongoing process. We want to it to be understood that, just as not everything is bright at a party, not everything is that way in our practice. Doing what we do can be frustrating; as projects they are not sustainable and they emerge in contexts of financial precariousness. Often, we exploit ourselves to make the mediations we design a reality. We put a lot into our work and materially we receive very little from institutions. We don’t make a living from this, all three of us work at different jobs, partly because we are hard workers, but also because the material and financial insecurity of our context is troubling. We feel that it is important to call out the issue of sustainability and make it visible within artistic contexts, where the actions required to enable those of us who work in this field to have enough income to live in a house and pay bills are not usually discussed. Perhaps that is why we insist so much on building from care, affection and solidarity (although sometimes we end up neglecting ourselves).