Over the last week or so, an army of small, simple figures have descended upon the neighbourhood of Gràcia. Many of them are decorated with hearts, ladders and euro symbols. After I placed a few of them on my instagram feed, a commentor informed me that they are the work of an Italian artist called exit enter. There isn’t much information, but after a bit of digging I managed to find a Pinterest board and a newspaper article/interview. From what I’ve been able to gather thanks to Chrome translate, the childlike simplicity of the work is far from accidental, and fits in very well with a message that seems highly critical of the frenetic, information-saturated, tech-dependent world. The balloons and ladders can provide us a means of escape to childlike lightness, an exit from the Huxley-esque dystopia of facebook feeds, twitter timelines and multi-tab web browsing.

Thanks for stopping by, Exit Enter, and I hope this isn’t your first visit to Barcelona.

Ada Colau

Ada Colau

Manuela Carmena

Manuela Carmena

This past 24 of May, autonomous communities and municipalities all over the Spanish state held elections. The excitement and anticipation were more than I’ve ever seen, and it actually seemed that many people really felt the importance and impact of their vote–something rare these days. The reason for this is the disillusion generated by the two main parties, the Partido Popular (center-right neo-liberal party) and the PSOE (center left, literally Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) and the CiU (the now-separate Center-right coalition of the Democratic Convergence Party of Catalonia and Democratic Union of Catalonia) here in Catalonia–which stems from numerous corruption cases and a general perception disregard for their constituents.

The problem, until the 24 of May, was the lack of alternatives. In this last election, the anger which took root in the 15M movement as well as other social activism finally took shape in parties like Podemos, Barcelona en Comú (formerly Guanyem–we win), and Ahora Madrid.

Despite the media and their polls favoring the traditional parties, the new upstarts made an impressive showing, most notably in Spain’s two largest cities, Barcelona and the capital, Madrid.

In Madrid, the candidate from Ahora Madrid, Manuela Carmena, was able to take the mayorship from career politician and aristocrat Esperanza Aguirre, through a left-wing coalition.

Similarly in Barcelona, Ada Colau, best known for her activist work with the anti-eviction group PAH, was elected mayor, unseating incumbent and big-party favorite Xavier Trias of CiU.

Here you find two stenciled portraits which recently popped up in Gràcia.

Whether the change referred to in the title of this post will extend beyond the initial election results remains to be seen…

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Just to the north of one of my favourite squares in all of Barcelona, the plaça de la Virreina, we find this larger-than-life image of the character Walter White, the main character in the immensely popular Breaking Bad. This image is the work of axe colours. I wish i had more to say about this series that wasn’t second-hand, but I haven’t had the opportunity to see even a single episode The reason is pretty much the same as the reason I haven’t updated this blog as much as I would like over the last few months.

Changes in my work and free time habits have provoked an inexcusable neglect of my little project here, one which I’m hoping to resolve between this summer and the next academic year. I also hope to be able to catch up on films and tv series, as I’m woefully behind on that aspect of pop culture.

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This larger than life size image can be found on Carrer Bailen, just between Gràcia and the Eixample. It’s from the artist konair, whose work can be found, in many different sizes, all around Barcelona. This artist’s work is unmistakeable, because of the distinctive popsicle form which all of the emotionally-charged images take.  Here you can find an article on the artist (in Spanish).

This past 9th and 10th of May, the street Pere IV in Barcelona’s Poblenou neighbourhood played host to the latest edition of the Ús festival, which is an initiative celebrating the innovative use of public spaces and urban art.

The festival was something along the lines of what Americans would call a block party, with theatre performances, children’s activities and a DJ. There were also numerous artists, such as sm172, invited, giving festivalgoers the opportunity to see works in progress.

Another interesting feature of the party was the presence of numerous food trucks, satisfying Barcelona’s new-found love for the concept of creative street food.

As the title suggests, I had some free time between lunch and having to race off the nieghbouring city of Badalona for my afternoon classes, so I decided to take a trip down Diagonal to the Murs Lliures which is found just a bit north of the Diagonal Mar shopping centre. This space consists of the walls which I think surround what was once an office for the famous “La Caixa” bank and is one of the bigger spaces where artists can sign up to paint. Along with the numerous elaborate tags, a few pieces definitely stood out: a portrait of a mad sushi chef who also seems to be working on a bowl of ramen, some quite feminine images, of which the giant dancer’s legs are my favourite. The image which stood out most for me was the replica of the cover for the 1994 album Ready to Die from the late, great Biggie Smalls (aka Notorious BIG, aka Christopher Wallace). It continues to be one of my favourite albums of all time, hip hop, or otherwise. Definitely recommended.

At the end of Carrer Girona runs a street which connects the upper part of the well-gridded Eixample with the more organic, chaotic streets of Gràcia. The street is called Milà i Fontanals and plays host to a number of small bars, vermut joints and one of Barcelona’s first Nepali restaurants. Along the way, you can also find some interesting images, some of which have been previously featured on this blog. At the very beginning of this street is an empty lot which has been previously protected by the aluminum guard rails which indicate that someone is deciding what to do with the tiny patch increasingly-rare urban emptiness.

It appears that a decision has been made, as the last time I passed by, the aluminum was gone, and the overgrowth which punctuates these empty spaces freshly mowed away. On the wall of the adjacent building are the images you’ll see here. They seem to have been there for quite a long time, placed by intrepid artists who aren’t (unlike me) put off by the presence of a fence.

As whatever will be there becomes a reality(I’ve heard rumours of a huge hotel), I imagine these little slices of spontaneity will be forever lost as another crack gets filled in the concrete jungle.

As I haven’t had as many opportunities to get out and photograph recently, I’ve decided to dive into the ever-growing archive, which is transforming into an ever expanding (contracting?) black hole of a folder on my dropbox account. With a recent account upgrade to 1 terabyte, I imagine my image-hoarding will only get worse.

That said, when I do take a bit of time to scroll through, I’m able to find some post-worthy art that got lost in the cloud. Here is an example, which I think comes from here in Gràcia.

Spring semester schedule changes have made it more difficult for me to post this month, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still on the lookout. I captured these two images here in Gràcia. One of them, as the title suggests has been around for a few years now, and is continuing to survive, despite the harshest of the elements, the test of time.

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Cities are often referred to as concrete jungles and the metaphor isn’t entirely inaccurate, as the winding streets and sometimes wild, unpredictability of the urban landscape can sometimes feel like the amazon. In Barcelona, most of the street art that’s left can be found in the old city centre, which I would refer to as a cobblestone jungle, a gridless, touristy labyrinth of the few old-time business mixed in with the overpriced boutiques and occasional chain shops. It’s here that I’ve found some of the more interesting beasts that I post on this blog. While today’s image by C215 comes from Gràcia, there is no shortage of feline-themed art to be found hiding in the cobblestone jungle.

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