“Have you taken down the names for your paper yet?” she asked me. “Stay by my side and I will dictate them to you: the Count and Countess of Caralt, the Marquess of Palmerola, the Count of Fígols, the Marquess of Alella, the …
~ A Barcelona Heiress, By Sergio Vila-Sanjuán
In the decade before the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona was on the verge of boiling over, and perhaps this castle in the Pyrenees mountains to the south was at its height of glory thanks to workers in its coal mines. The Count of Figols and his family enjoyed the view from the tower while the miners, some as young as 14 years old, kept toiling about 13 kilometers away – until they revolted in 1932.
“The mining company, the greater part of which was owned by Liverpool-born José Enrique de Olano y Loyzaga, First Count of Figols, prohibited union organization and paid its workforce in tokens redeemable only in the company stores.”
Revolution and the State: Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, by Danny Evans.
Today you can hashtag Figols (#figols) on social media and you can see the tower (Torre del Compte de Fígols) and wander through the ruins of the castle (Castillo Conde de Fígols) – and discover new graffiti pieces and paintings throughout the rooms. That’s what photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena did last week when he went to check out some fresh stuff he heard was painted here about 120 km north of Barcelona. We thank him for sharing his images with BSA readers from the castle of the Count of Figols.
There are a number of misconceptions by persons unfamiliar with history or the organic unregulated illegal and unrestricted practices of urban intervention regarding this. Anyone who has thoughtfully and carefully followed what artists have been doing without permission in public and abandoned spaces over the last few decades will know that mural festivals and other legal and/or commercial mural initiatives are just that. They are not displaying examples of Street Art.
The commodification of the original freewheeling practices of Street Artists and its visual vernacular in commercial campaigns, coupled with the proliferation of mural festivals that subtly or explicitly neuter the activist element that critiques politics and society, is regrettable – although predictable.
Like the one we feature here today, Street Artists don’t treat abandoned places simply as galleries to sell sneakers or prints; with murals slapped thoughtlessly check to jowl as selfie-backdrops and vehicles for “urban” brand logos. Here one can gain appreciation of the works as they are situated amidst the ruins; a self-granted residency or laboratory where your art placed in a new context alters everything around it.
Luckily, photographers who don’t mind working and who still long for the days of illegal urban art exploration and discovery continue the hunt for those oases that lie off-the-beaten-path.
“Ruin porn” is such a pithy simplification of this desire to document our forgotten places, to reconnect with and review our history, our lore, our systems of values. We prefer the term “urban exploration” for conquests such as these. Here artists find a new home and inspiration from the beauty of decay, taking residency in the ruins of what may have been splendor.
and BSA contributor Lluis Olive recently visited one such oasis called La Puda,
an abandoned mineral bath resort at the foot of the Montserrat Mountains near
Barcelona, Spain. Build in 1870 it closed its doors in 1958, and in the intervening
six decades the building has suffered from floods, thieves, fern and fauna.
Despite the western classical markings of strength an power like colonnades, entablature, and soaring arches, presently the place is in various states of ruin due to abandonment. Here Mr. Olive gives us a small photo essay of the work of one artist, SM172. These unsigned works remind us that not everyone is in it for the “fame” because we had to ask around to find who the author is. Luckily we have the smartest readers!
Today we have an opportunity to see some of the Street Art and gallery-related works on show in Madrid. Our sincere thanks to photographer and avid observer Fer Alcalá, who shares his findings with BSA readers today.
I was lucky enough to meet and walk the streets of Madrid with Guillermo from MadridStreetArtProject a veteran actor in the local scene. His way of seeing and understanding the urban landscape is outstanding. He is one of the best hosts that you can find in Madrid.
Espacio SOLO is an EXPERIENCE, not only because of the mystery associated with the project, but for the feelings that you have once you are there. Surrounded by astonishing pieces of fine art, getting lost through alleys and rooms and at the same time, having the sensation of invading someone’s coolest home on Earth.
Images today from La Nau Bostik, an artist run complex in Barcelona that aims to be sustainable, inspirational, and a breathing living cultural oasis. By most accounts, it succeeds wildly.
Murals often accompany citizen-run cultural initiatives and art spaces like these, frequently to great effect. The spaces are raw and neglected and needs a sense of life and color; new narratives to fill the space with interactions and hopefully inspire collaboration.
Xavier Basiana and his cultural compatriots have established a community cultural and intellectual place in a settlement of ex-industrial warehouses over the last decade along the train tracks in La Sagrera, and the once barren soil now sprouts an ever growing crop of portraits, characters, fantasies, political and social messages.
In cities that we have the opportunity to visit we occasionally get to see these vibrant spaces like La Nau Bostik, now a cultural fixture that draws thousands throughout the year for a rich mix of programming and engagement. Surrounded by great organic works on the walls by fine artists and current or former Street Artists and graffiti writers, the environment seems to foster a re-generation of people-fueled ideas for progress, problem solving and dreaming.
Ivan Floro. Nau Bostik, Barcelona. (photo LluÍs Olivé Bulbena)
Without the synergistic effects of weaving all of these elements of education, celebration, theater, academic examination, civic engagement, the plastic arts, performance, labor, and commerce, these places may not be able to offer a safe place for free thought and internal exploration. As ever, it is the combined effect of a variety of talents that creates the greater sum. With so many factors and parties at play, maintaining a sense of balance is an ongoing goal.
Today we are happy to visit this arts space via the camera work of photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena, who we thank for sharing his images with BSA readers.
BSA Special Feature: Las Calles Hablan : Street Art in Barcelona
“Las Calles Hablan is a story about discovering a hidden world, an extraordinary subculture and the struggle between an artistic community painting for freedom of expression and an increasingly restrictive dogmatic government,” says Justin Donlon as he speaks about this hour long documentary he made with Silvia Vidal Muratori and Katrine Knauer.
An educational and unpretentious study of the spectrum of Street Artists and techniques currently at play in Barcelona, the team traces the scene through personal observations and their network of local and international artists, local gallerists, and their connections globally via the Internet.
The film traces the trajectory from the Street Art/graffiti’s emergence at the end of the 70s following the Franco dictatorship and the rise of international hip-hop culture through the 90s into a sort of freewheeling golden era in the early 2000s. It also explains the current unease with the city, the professionalizing of the artists through a growing gallery practice, and the collaborative initiatives of some community leaders with artists.
Taking a straightforward documentary approach, the motivations and inspirations of current artists on the scene are presented without much of the exaggerated myth-making that more commercial hype vehicles often contain. Included in the examination are how community and local citizens and authorities have taken a constructive role in facilitating space and opportunities for some artists here and elsewhere, while the definition and appetite for illegal work ebbs and flows.
Featured artists:Zosen, Mina Hamada, Kenor, Kram, El Xupet Negre, Debens, Fert, Dase, SM172, Ogoch, Kafre, Aleix Gordo, Meibol, Eledu, C215, H101, Miss Van, Btoy, El Arte Es Basura, Konair, Gola, Vinz.
1. Perfect Storm “Big Freedia” Coming
2. Kid Acne, “Damn Straight” (Vienna)
3. Blue Dog at Michael Mutt (NYC)
4. “Las Calles Hablan” Group Show (Barcelona)
5. SANER Has “Catharsis” at New Image (LA)
6. Saner “Catharsis” Teaser # 2 (VIDEO)
7. Jeff Frost “Modern Ruin” Preview (VIDEO)
8. See No Evil 2012 (VIDEO)
Happy Friday NYC. Halloween is in full effect on the streets and there are people in costume at bars, at art parties, galleries, and in the corner deli throughout this weekend as we get ready for the Frankenstorm that is on it’s way from the South, West, and North. And from New Orleans another storm system called Big Freedia is set to hit on Halloween at Brooklyn Bowl. Watch the skies for this perfect storm – Ya’ll get back now!
Kid Acne, “Damn Straight” (Vienna)
This week Kid Acne has been led by his small army of sword-wielding women to Vienna, Austria for his solo show at Inoperable gallery with mono prints, graphite, screenprints, qatercolor, and more. The Kid says that the show will also feature a limited print “honoring the worlds first Graffiti Artist, Kyselak“, an Austrian who painted during the early 1800s. “Damn Straight” is now open.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Blue Dog at Michael Mutt (NYC)
With canine pragmatism, the Street Artist Blue Dog 10003 describes the rules of the street: “You put up and if people like it they take pics or poach it. If it sucks they slap over it.” Not sure how it applies to the rules inside the gallery ; “Re Tail Blue’s” is now open to the general public at the Michael Mutt Gallery in Manhattan.
For further information regarding this show click here.
“Las Calles Hablan” Group Show (Barcelona)
In support of a forthcoming documentary of the same name, Las Calles Hablan is the first exhibit by Mapping Barcelona Public Art and it is tracing the evolution of street art in Barcelona since the death of Franco. While this collection is not exhaustive, it gives an overview. Presented by MBPA at the Mutuo Centro de Arte, the show includes: Debens, Tom14, Kenor, Pez, Kafre, Alice, SM172, Ogoch, BToy and Gola. Now open.
For further information regarding this show click here.
SANER Has “Catharsis” at New Image (LA)
“I visited Oaxaca a lot when I was growing up because my mother is from there, and certain traditions which they carried out there really caught my attention.,” says Mexican Street Artist Saner as he talks about his youth and the rich influences that can be traced in his work. Medvin Sobio curates Saner’s new show “Catharsis” at New Image Art Gallery in West Hollywood, CA. A cultural and stylistic fusionaire, Saner is clearly poised to influence many – Saturday night it is the place to be in LA.
Mutuo Centro de Arte. Carrer de Julià Portet, 5. (Metro: Urquinaona)
Opening : Thursday, 25 October, 20hr
Works from Debens, Tom14, Kenor, Pez, Kafre, Alice, SM172, Ogoch, BToy and Gola.
Music : DJ Rocketman
Sneak preview of the Las Calles Hablan documentary.
Las Calles Hablan, the first exhibit by Mapping Barcelona Public Art, is about the evolution of street art in Barcelona. The opinions on graffiti go in many different directions – love, hate, indifference. This exhibit welcomes all opinions, inviting everyone to see and learn more about their community and how graffiti can be a compelling element for a visual discussion. Barcelona, like many cosmopolitan cities, has a rhythm, a natural beat that carries and communicates its personality: the very soul of the place. It carries the mood but also embraces the history in the streets. This vibrant energy has attracted many graffiti artists from around the world to live and work, documenting the life and soul of the city on its walls. here because of this energy.
After the death of Franco in the 1970s, Barcelona evolved into a bohemian, cultural city creating a place and environment where the people could reclaim their space, their culture and language. Over the next decades, the city flourished with street art freedom: graffiti along the city walls, music in every corner. During this urban cultural renaissance, artists created a public gallery where the people could enjoy a city which is flourishing with artistic expression. The street art of this time often provoked playful interchanges or posed political, economic or cultural questions. There was a public conversation between the artists and the people in the streets.
Other cities, like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, developed and embraced their rich street art scenes to the extent where this urban art has become a part of their cultural identities. However, recent changes to the local laws in Barcelona have tightened restrictions on street art, increasing fines and limiting the spaces where street art can be shared with the people. Las Calles Hablan aims to open up the dialogue in the community about the value of street art by providing information on the various barrios and their history since the fall of Franco, a history of the graffiti scene in Barcelona during that same time period, and sharing photographs of work from various local graffiti artists along a timeline. We encourage and invite an open discussion about the graffiti scene.
For the opening, there will be a never before seen documentary film, with footage of incredible graffiti areas in Barcelona, as well as interviews with artists, a street art gallery owner and others in the know. Justin Donlon and Sylvia Vidal are producing this fresh inspirational and educational view of the streets of Barcelona.