This year’s Festa Major de Gràcia featured a new entry into the decorated streets: la Plaza del Poble Rumaní, the theme of which was one of the biggest cultural contributions from Gràcia’s vibrant gypsy community: la Rumba Catalana. While the decorations themselves had a difficult time competing with the more experienced streets, one feature which stood out from the rest was a huge mural which was painted on the wall of a neighboring school.
The mural is a collaboration between local schools, the local gypsy community, and the organization acidH (Catalan Association for Integration and Human Development). The three artists who participated are well-known in the Barcelona street art scene and this blog: Xupet Negre, Caesar Baetulo (sm172), and konair.
The images on the mural are a mix of the artists’ trademark characters and icons of Catalan culture.
This set of photos comes from a series of murals put up by residents of the Raval (known in Catalan as “Ravalencs”) in protest against the alleged police brutality case which resulted in the death of a man by the name of Juan Andrés Benítez in early October. So far, eight officers have been implicated in the case. Many people are skeptical of the fairness of the justice system in these cases as nearly all police who have been investigated in the flurry of excessive force cases have been let off the hook. Feeling powerless in the face of such impunity, residents have used art to vent their rage and frustration. The case is still open, though the officers are supposedly back on the job after a brief suspension. Footage of the incident filmed by neighbours is, to put it mildly, disturbing, and makes the famous Rodney King beating look quite mild in comparison. While I imagine this case will end like the many others before it, the internet and proliferation of phone cameras make it very difficult to cover up evidence.
The day I heard about these murals I raced down with my camera, as these types of murals generally don’t last very long.
One of the sad side effects of the proliferation of digital content over the years is the near disappearance of magazines. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of magazines I have lying around the house. When I was younger, one of my favourite pasttimes was cutting up the magazines that were always piling up on, around and under the coffee table to create multi-layered collages. Sometimes I would use up an entire stick of glue on one project, and often many of the pieces which seemed so important at the beginning of a collage would end up completely covered by the time I had finally decided to cap the glue stick. I now notice the same thing as I pass by certain streets looking for new shots for my collection. Images get covered, sometimes completely, other times partially, with stickers, stencils, tags, posters, even newspaper and magazine clippings. Often the result is just a peeling, wheat-pasted mess, but every now and then I stumble upon an accidental masterpiece like this one. This is just a small fragment of a large wall that’s actually a tunnel-like entrance to this small street in the Raval, called Picalquers. How much of it was planned and carefully placed I don’t know. I took several shots from different spots and this one was my favourite. To fully appreciate it, I think it needs to be seen in person.
The day I took this shot, I was momentarily inspired, and gathered the 5 or so magazines I had lying around the house, found a pair of scissors and a glue stick among some long-forgotten teaching materials. Scissors never touched paper, as I soon realized that the only magazines I had were specialized, design or fashion-related and created by friends and often very limited-edition. It would have been a very expensive (and possibly offensive) collage. A far cry from the periodicals that seemed to fill our mailbox, and then coffee table every week, automatically renenewed until the end of time…
This wheatpaste design is a recent arrival on a wall full of surprises that can be found just at the border between the Raval and Sant Antoni. Dreadful, grey and looking as if she’s spent years drifting in the cold sea, this girl’s image reminds me of the nasty water spirits like those found in The Grudge. I’m not sure if the blue splotch was plced there by the artist or found its way there later, but I think it adds an element of creepiness.
This piece is from artist c215, who has made various appearances on this blog. I think this one might be my favorite (so far). I found it last week in the raval, a welcome splash of color on the increasingly grayer autumn days.
Walking past one of my favorite spots on the border between the Raval and Sant Antoni I found this skull posted almost high enough to be missed by the average pedestrian. It had actually been spotted by a group of tourists. I just hope the visitors realize that the Dia de los Muertos, along with the cheap sombreros sold on the Rambla are from the other side of the ocean.
The damp, musty Raval hides fewer tasty pieces than its glitzier cousin el Born on the other side of the Rambla. This makes it all the more satisfying when I do find something hiding among the crusty cafes with the metal bartops and electronics shops and supermarkets whose windows are no longer even translucent. Indeed, what the Raval lacks in quality, in many cases in makes up for with quality. This monstrous portrait was no exception.
This image was a low-cost mobile phone advert on a side street in the Raval. It was cleverly hijacked by the sticker of the woman with butterfly hair. I think it was the outside wall of a locutorio, which is a small shop with internet access booths and telephone cabins to make cheap international calls. If you’re ever looking for a charger for your Nokia from 1996, these are the places to go looking.
I imagine she would shill for Nike if she could.