In a demonstration of people power and the role of street artists as activists, we look today at a neighborhood called Poblenou in Barcelona, whose residents have been gripped in a struggle with real estate developers. The developers have tried to destroy the buildings, the history, and the culture of the area, the local citizen’s group says, and they intend to dissuade them. According to Poblenou neighbors, the large real estate company has attempted to persuade the local city board to purchase a cluster of buildings, including houses with great historical and emotional value, to replace them with offices and high-end residential buildings.
After about five years, the battle rages, with locals saying that the Poblenou neighborhood stands as a symbol of struggle and resistance for the working-class people who built it and that people are proud of what the area has accomplished over time. It is a familiar refrain, this gentrification brought by investors – often these days aided and abetted by the “beautification” of the neighborhood by artists.
In this case, the artists are lending their skills to help the fight for the neighborhood instead. The number includes artist Tim Marsh who lives here. Today we see the wall he and like-minded creatives created, focusing in many cases on people who live here, in “the Passage” of Poblenou.
We thank photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena for sharing his photos of some of the artists and their murals with BSA Readers.
The demonstrations and protests in support of George Floyd and against racism and police brutality continue in many cities across the US. Similarly, new reports from other countries of people marching in solidarity have brought the message to an international audience. Today we have a new mural by Tim Marsh sent to us by BSA contributor and photographer Lluis Olive who shares these images from Barcelona, Spain.
As one may expect, subtleties of language may get lost in translation, so we’ll briefly mention why “Black Lives Matter” is not the same as “All Lives Matter”, and in fact the latter is received by many in the US as a dismissal of blacks, a de-facto denial of the suffering of people in an effort to erase the magnitude of a deliberately designed unfair system that threatens black people’s lives.
First, it’s good to know that Black Lives Matter is actually an organization founded by three black women in 2013 – used as a hashtag to begin with – soon spawning a movement. The BLM name came to be known as a response to the casual denigration of the sanctity of the life of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by George Zimmerman and who was found “not guilty.” So, today using the term is directly tied to that organization and time no matter the current context.
Secondly, as a slogan, it is directly implied that the dominant white culture has done everything it can to deny the humanity to persons with dark skin, whether through a thousand tiny subtleties on a daily basis or through big obvious examples like state-sanctioned violence – and a gamut in between. It is a defiant statement that is made so obvious in intent that people cannot mistake its meaning. Consequently, for many, saying “All Lives Matter” is yet one more example of denigration, a sideways denial of the utter toxicity of racism and its impact, a re-direction away from the dire facts.
that our international friends, like this artist here, are undoubtedly trying
to be inclusive when they say “All Lives Matter”. We just wanted to share that
some Americans won’t understand it as such, and they may even interpret the
slogan as an underhanded insult to blacks and other persons of color. After
all, Women’s Rights wouldn’t even be an issue if women’s rights were equally encoded
by law and absolutely insured by a fair process in greater society. Until then
we’ll talk about Women’s Rights, GLBTQ Rights, Disabled Rights, etcetera.
UPDATE: Since publishing this article we received a message from the artist of this work above. He let us know that he had already painted over this slogan with “Black Lives Matter” – only a day after he first painted it and not as a result of this article. He had in fact not understood the implications and once he did he wanted to be clear with his intentions. This is a win for everyone, and to whatever extent we can share information and ideas to raise our collective awareness with each other and learn from each other, we say “yes!”
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ. First wall after the lock down. I wanted to paint something else, but the news over the world have made me react. What the actual fuck, people. It seems that all over the world, racism has been increasing lately…
This is just an example of what white supremacism is causing over the
world. The latest news happened in the USA, but some similar stories
happened lately in france too, With people from other origins. . This is why at first i used the sentence “All lives matter”. And then some of you explained that white supremacists were using this beautiful phrase to protest against the protests. Which led me to go correct the text on the wall. Which leaves me with a wierd feeling, like forgetting about ALL the other cases. AND I REALLY HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL SUPPORTING THEIR CAUSE TOO.
I strongly encourage ALL the people over the world to keep fighting.
Bring justice to all those abused by the police, and by all acts of
racism. MAKE RACISTS ASHAMED. BE ANTI-RACIST All my support goes to all the people protesting, and fighting against racism, all over the world. ✊✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
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.