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History and its distortions in the center of Barcelona

29/12/2010 admin 0
To understand the recent urban and social transformations in Barcelona's Barrio Chino, historical center of the town (that now, after gentrification and demolitions, we have to call "Raval") often the attention goes towards the subproletarians living and smuggling in the neighborhood: "an underworld of immoral behaviour" (1943). But it would be more useful to study another kind of commerces, much darker and of greater scale, than those of the underworld. The catalan bourgeoisie had been trying to transform and demolish Barcelona's city center during more than a century: this project had to wait during the dictatorship, but in the eighties the old dream came back to life. "These 200 families that had been holding power during 150 years, invested in purchasing blocks of flats in central Barcelona, so they would make lots of money when these neighborhoods would have been demolished and rebuilt". Read Adolf Castaños' Memory and its distortions (inedited, 2010) in English (pending revision). (original Spanish)
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December 2010: burning cars

22/12/2010 admin 0

Gentrification: cars burning (2010). “The BRENNENDE-AUTOS.DE webpage is dedicated to the memory of the cars burned in Berlin since 2007. […] During the last three years in Berlin more than 500 cars, mostly big engined, have been burned by night. 

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Recipes to eliminate poverty in Buenos Aires

14/12/2010 admin 0
On december 8th, 2010, the Metropolitan and Federal Police attacked the 200 families who had settled in Parque Iberoamericano (Buenos Aires), as if it was an enemy army: the operation ended with two deaths and many injured. Then, the local gobernment and mass media promoted xenophobia, presenting the abandoned park as "squatted" by bolivians and paraguayans linked with drug dealing: so racist groups from the neighborhoods, together with violent hooligans - patotas de barrabravas , close and often directly hired by the local government- continued the job, killing two more of the settlers.
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Barcelona: La Perona (1985-1989)

08/12/2010 admin 0

Esteve Lucerón (Pobla de Segur, 1950), photographer, portrayed the gypsy settlement of La Perona for 10 years, from 1980 until its demolition. His photos are strongly influenced by the american reporters who worked on the Great Depression of 1929, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Lewis Hine, especially in the relationship towards the people he portrayed: empathy, self control, he never manipulates his subjects to stress the drama, never breaks the intimacy, doesn’t steal poverty. He doesn’t either have a sweetened merciful attitude: there’s social critique, it’s an anthropological document, historically valuable, since these settlements belong to a time of economical prosperity in Spain, when real estate speculation and conflicts among “lineages” or subgroups of gypsies burst, as the City Council decided to relocate – transfer/deport – some groups from an area to another with no regard except for the number of people. Lucerón gives a personal view of it, with a special attention towards children, and towards gypsy’s typical sense of humor, naughty and defiant“. Froum María José Furio‘s review on her blog. Some photos: [1][2]

  • Esteve Lucerón. La Perona (1985-1989). Agenda de la Imatge n. 56 (2010). Xavier Camino and Pili Díaz Giner wrote the text, and Jordi Gratacós, secretary of UPIFC, made the laboratory work on the photo negatives. [Exposition announced in UPIFC webpage]
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The dreams of architecture

03/12/2010 admin 0
"Secondigliano, Miano, Piscinola, all the northern periphery, and most of all Scampia, the youngest and most cursed neighborhood of Napols, have been covered with negative symbols, emblems of something dark and persistent, that by extension stains all the tens of thousands people that, in the peripheries, keep living a normal life". (Rossomando, 2007). For Scampia's "Le Vele", the enormous buildings erected in the 70s as a progressive and modernist project, and that now have become an internationally renown scenario of crime and marginality, the City Council is looking again for an architectural solution: to demolish or to preserve? The utopia is the "tabula rasa", i.e. solving social problems by tearing down and start again, or emptying and convert into a monument. "The complexity of places is poorly reduced to the choice between demolition and capitalization, both easy and spectacular solutions based on an attack on inhabitants' history" (Nocera 2010). Different are the utopias that follow all the people who struggle every day supporting the gypsies of Scampia's Rom community, the inhabitants of "Le Vele", the families suffering the consequences of so many years of corruption and crime. Will all this also end up into a "tabula rasa"?