I want to start this post off with a confession. While the vast majority of the pictures I post on here are images I’ve stumbled upon by accident, today’s photo is the result of an initial tipoff from local Barcelona TV channel BTV, which ran an article on this piece last week. I of course wasted little time hopping on the nearest Bicing bike and, with broken bell and screeching front brake, made my way to the corner of carrer Ciutat de Granada and Almogavers. The corner was empty, and it was overcast, and dusk was just beginning–perfect conditions for a shadow-free photo.
The image shows the sister of current Spanish king, Felipe VI, Cristina de Borbon and her husband, former Olympic star and disgraced entrepreneur Iñaki Urdangarin, known together as the Duke and Duchess of Palma (Mallorca). Iñaki, the Duke, has been embroiled for the last two years in a money-laundering scandal which involves businesspeople and many high-level politicians. His wife, formerly known as the “Infanta Cristina”, or daughter of the ex-king Juan Carlos, had managed to dodge suspicion until recently. She has now been implicated in the case and will likely have to testify.
If this blogger had to make a bet on the outcome of the situation, I would say that don Iñaki will likely be sacrificed while the former royal daughter will be spared. The damage to the image of the Spanish monarchy is undeniable, however, as can be seen in this image.

Now that most music is stored, exchanged and enjoyed digitally, some of the peculiarities of the days of physical music formats are fading into obscurity. One of those is the convention of A-sides and B-sides on record singles. Back when single songs were sold on the small, 45-rpm vinyl records, record companies placed the popular, radio-friendly track on the A-side, while the instrumentals, or inferior tracks were used to fill the B-side.
On a few notable occasions, the “inferior” B-sides become more popular than their A-side counterparts. Some examples include Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday“. On a few occasions, both the A and B side became hits, as with the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” and “Day Tripper“.
Indeed, taking the extra four or five minutes to flip to the B-side, or spending the extra quarter to play the lower track on the jukebox would sometimes reveal a pleasant surprise.
The other day, when riding by the Tricentennial Installation featured a few weeks back, I noticed someone taking some pictures of the backside of the concrete wall. I decided to explore. On the B-side, I found a few tags and some murals, along with the image of an antique pistol which seems part of the “official” project. The B-side artwork is very similar to what can be found on the Mur Lliures which pepper the city.
While this B-side may not enjoy the hit status of “Ruby Tuesday” or “Ice Ice Baby” (B-side to “Play That Funky Music“), it does show the value of going a little further below (or behind) the surface.

Along with the stencils and colourful murals which punctuate the city landscape, there are thousands upon thousands of pasteups, of various sizes, black and white, colour, with different messages, some more apparent than others. Of the three I’m posting, the most colourful one can be found downtown in the old city, and the other two, one a tribute to Jimi Hendrix and another a tribute to the funny faces we created with our hands as children (or adults).

You may remember the post from back in February regarding the Galeria de la Magdalena, an empty corner turned art project near the via Laetana. I was in the neighbourhood last week and decided to check for any interesting changes, as this is a farily high-traffic corner. I wasn’t disappointed. In these shots you can see that someone has added an armchair (in Spanish sillón) as well as a few new images including a flag from the Basque country, known as the Ikurriña. The Ikurriña recently received some attention in the Spanish media thanks to an unlikely source: Miley Cyrus, who proudly waved this flag in her recent Barcelona show. She would be ill-advised to repeat the gesture at her gig in Madrid.

I found this work in progress during a light jog, just before dusk, through the Parc de Ciutadella, which is the closest you’ll find here to Central Park. Just slightly less central, and a lot closer to the beach. The project is a part of ongoing cultural installations commemmorating the tricentennial of the Siege of Barcelona during the War of Spanish Succession. This year is special not only because of the tricentennial, but also because of the escalating situation between the autonomous Catalan government (the Generalitat) and the Spanish central government over the issue of possible independence, which promises to come to a head in November, when pro-independence parties hope to hold a referendum on the question of Catalan independence. Although it’s the politicians and their newspapers and media that are talking the most, I’m sure the walls and doorways of Barcelona will have something to say as well. I’ll be sure to post whatever whispers and screams I encounter.
Here is a short video on the Ciutadella project.

This piece can be found at the far corner of the Plaça del Fossar de les Moreres, which is notable for its curved metal memorial topped off with an ever-burning flame. This plaça is especially important as it is the tricentennial of the War of Succession, and was in fact full of tour groups listening to the story of the war in various languages. You can find more about the plaça and its significance here.
This simple policeman and the rat who seems to be offering him a colourful bouquet is a rarity as this plaça is generally free of any non-commissioned artwork. For this reason I wanted to snap and post it as soon as possible as I’m sure its days are numbered. That said, the streets surrounding this plaça hold quite a few interesting images, and is most certainly worth a wander.
Opposite the cop and rat can be seen one of the side walls of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, which dates back the the 14th century and deserves a few shots if you are in the area.

Sweet spot in doorway chaos

While I was searching for different doorways to make up my recent post on door projects, I stumbled upon this from Alice Pasquini. I see from her facebook page that she’s been doing a lot of mural projects in the NY/Jersey City area, which are my old pre-Barcelona stomping grounds. I can only hope some of them survive until I make my yearly Christmas pilgrimage back to the East Coast. And that the notoriously fickle Northeast winter is kind to me, at least for half a morning.

I recently collaborated in a video for the travel agency STA, which caters to students, teachers, and younger travellers. I was able to take the presenter through Polbe Nou and show her one of the Murs Lliures sites.

I generally enjoy focusing on close-ups in order to capture the most detail possible of smaller images, but as I take more and more photos of bigger murals, I find my attitude changing a bit. Last week I decided to retrace my steps and take some wider angle shots. If you’ve been a loyal reader of this blog you will certainly recognize some of the images from previous posts. By capturing the entire door or wall, it puts the images in a sort of context.
As a sometime translator I know the importance of context in understanding a message, and I don’t see why the case of street art should be any different. In fact, as the context is constantly changing, perhaps it’s even more important, and perhaps can change the meaning of each of the little pieces as the collage evolves. I don’t know if the artists have this in mind as they work, but it’s something that has changed the way I appreciate the urban art landscape.

I had originally wanted to use my morning off to visit the CCCB, but decided to duck into a cafe beforehand to have a coffee. As I turned the corner behind the MACBA, I noticed this work, a reproduction of a mural which was originally painted by Keith Haring in 1989. This reporoduction was done with the cooperation of the MACBA, the Barcelona city hall and the Haring Estate, so doesn’t technically count as street art in the strict sense and I was debating whether there was a place for it in this blog. In the end I decided to include it for a few reasons. One, Haring was an absolute pioneer in the art of mural painting. Second, I think the message of this mural is quite important. Finally, the work itself is outdoors, and forms a part of the urban landscape. Taking all these factors into account, I’ve decided to post these photos. Here is a page with more information on the project.


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