I decided to take advantage of the weeklong Easter holiday break (known here as Setmana Santa, or Holy Week) to pick up my camera and capture some images that I’ve been passing twice a week since the end of September. All of these images come from a wall which runs along the rail tracks near the Castelldefels station. I had passed the image of the frost king every Monday and Wednesday before entering the underpass on my way back to Barcelona and have been meaning to take the time to photograph it.
To my surprise, the murals stretch on for nearly 200 meters (my non-metric brain estimate) until the wall ends at some type of power substation. There are a number of tags in this gallery, which I generally don’t include on this blog. these, however are quite well done and are an important part of the overall mural, so not including them didn’t seem right to me
Pretty much everyone is familiar with one of Warhol’s most famous quotes about how in the future we’d all be famous for 15 minutes. I think he’s mostly right, in the sense that the ability to upload into internet immortality thousands of bathroom mirror selfies and video rants and responses has greatly democratized pop culture, I do think that his estimate of 15 minutes might have been a bit high, as this curve shows. The image which inspired this post is a pasteup on a small alley just off my street in Gràcia, which seems to be a modified version of this photo of Warhol. I like to imagine that Warhol would have been rather pleased with himself, as his prediction has come true tenfold and (mostly) pleased with the fact that the ability to immortalize oneself and possibly experience the fleeting excitement of viral fame has become accessible to the smartphoned masses. Why do I say mostly? Well, I just think of my own impressions of the state of things. On one hand, I think it truly is revolutionary that anyone can become famous nowadays. On the other, I’ve become more than tired of looking at the artistically overfiltered images of Starbucks beverages and cracks in the pavement which make up a lot of the visual chatter in any given flickr or instagram feed. Thankfully, unlike the days when I had to sit through 5 carousels of slides my aunt and uncle’s Carribean cruise or 6 minute commercial breaks, in the world of the internet I can skip ahead or skip altogether.
The other images included in this post are of other famous faces only one of which is still alive, that of Gwen Stefani. One thing they do have in common is that they were all able to surpass Warhol’s 15-minute mark.
As always happens when I make one of my morning downtown treks, I went looking for a few specific shots I had seen on various blogs and newsfeeds, and ended up with about 15-20 blog-worthy shots. I had initially gone out looking for new work by the artist Alice Pasquini and of course they came in bits and pieces, spread out around different surfaces in the labyrinth of the old city centre. I’m proud to say that even after nine years in Barcelona, I still frequently get completely lost within these winding streets, the sun blocked by hanging laundry, my path often dotted with puddles of water from the early-morning high-pressure hose crews, unmistakeable in their knee-high rubber boots and thick green aprons. To be lost among all of this, with the soundtrack of the beeping of delivery vans jolting into reverse and neighbours holding conversations out their open windows is a pleasure, albeit a brief one as I eventually come to a rambla (of the Raval or THE Rambles) or an iconic street like carrer Hospital or Ronda Sant Antoni. Maybe the fact that Barcelona is a city where someone can lose themselves so easily even after living in it so long is one of the reasons I still choose to stay. And of course, all the spectacular shots that I snap in my moments of disorientation simply add to the fun.
The feeling I get when I spend an entire morning searching for Alice Pasquini’s latest work which she’d left sprinkled round the Raval, I imagine is somewhat similar to the feeling between the two young lovers in the image. It’s been quite a few years since that particular species of butterfly has flitted around in this stomach, but some of my more fruitful mornings of aiming my camera at musty, cracked walls and doorways have left me feeling a bit younger. Or at least have awakened a sense of illusion that had enjoyed a long period of hibernation.
This doorway can be found on a street called Milà i Fontanals, which connects Gràcia and the more central Eixample. It’s a narrow, one-way street which passes by several small bars, a quirky curio/antique shop, a tasty Nepali restaurant and a traditional bodega where you can often see small groups of people sipping small glasses of red vermouth. This doorway can be found on the lower portion of this street, and until recently was home to just the yellow owl on the left. On a recent taxi ride up from the city centre I noticed the image of the man cuddling the puppy had also been added and immediately scrawled a new entry on my internal to-do list, which I was finally able to cross off this sunny Sunday morning.
The tiny, archway-guarded street of Picalquers made an earlier appearance here. I happened to pass by this week while searching for a few new images which will be featured next week. It seems a wounded rabbit has taken over the curious collage…
This series of shots comes mostly from the Born area, between the Via Laetana and Ciutadella park. You can find loads of images on the streets here, in various states of decay and “freshness”. There are some images here which I have passed multiple times over the last two years or so and either decided not to photograph them, or take the shot but then let it get buried in my every-growing digital pile. I’ve also decided to post some of the same images, but from different angles and distances, as the title suggests. Among this assortment you’ll find a portrait from C215 and a paste-up from artist Mischief.
This would be the second time n stenciled image of Lenin has made this blog, the first entry being one of the original posts. Several of these stencils can be found dotting various surfaces walking down the carrer de l’Alzina, which is part of my nightly route home when I take the crosstown bus. I imagine that these portraits are the leftovers of a demonstration, several of which wind their way through the streets of “la Vila” every week. The title of this post is meant to be a tribute to the brilliant 2003 film Good bye, Lenin! starring Gràcia resident Daniel Brühl.
The Via Laetana has always seemed to me, in a city full of grandiose modernist boulevards, a waste of potential. I would love, for example to see this street, which runs parallel to Les Rambles and down to the sea, converted into an exclusively pedestrian area, with a few green spots, lined with trees, dotted with a few fountains and a wide bike lane. I highly doubt this will ever come to pass, as the Via Laetana is one of the only ways for vehicular traffic to pass from the port area to the city centre. Barring the construction of a subterranean roadway, which is nearly impossible due to the number of archaelogoical treasures which lie buried in that area of the city, I fear the Laetana is doomed to carry on as a mini-motorway with sidewalks barely wide enough to accommodate bi-directional foot traffic.
Near the end of the Via Laetana, if you bear a left just before it spits the traffic out toward the sea, you can find a small street which curves off and leaves you at part of a project called the Galeria de la Magda. It’s an interactive street art project whose works have a variety of social messages, highly critical of the urban plague known as blind consumerism. It’s an entire corner filled with different art in different media, separated from passersby by an old aluminum guardrail. Definitely worth a glance up from our smartphone screens!
In my “about” page I mentioned the impermanent, ever-changing nature of images on the street as one of the things that attracted me most to urban art. I’ve just now realised that it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a picture of an image in transition. As my archive of photos grows larger, some of these images have a tendency to get lost and be eclipsed by their fresher colleagues.
So today, when my free dropbox account gave me the monthly ultimatum to delete and destroy or upgrade, I did indeed do a bit of cleaning, mostly moving to internal storage. But I also took the opportunity to seek out a few forgotten pieces, images which no longer smelled of drying paint, images with curled-up edges, sides of faces peeled away and left half-expressionless. Of these images there are many, and I will post them one at a time, and once in a while, as a reminder to readers, and myself, of an important part of the original raison d’être of this blog.