Barcelona, irregular borders

Text and Photographs by Rosario Kuri


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Many of my works have a social subject on which the city takes a special role. In my opinion, the city is the origin and outcome of social, economic and political relationship that take place in it.

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What I want to analyze with my work is the use of city’s space: from the morphological to the architectural or urban value. I believe that in these transformations, which may be of higher or lower complexity, is evident the specific tension of urban culture, from official projects that impose the dream city to the popular appropriations who crave the required city.

It’s in the outskirts of the city, with its constant changes, where we find these social pulsations.
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Barcelona has always been an example of urbanism. The architectural order, as searched by the academic theory in the Cerdà Plan, stands as testimony of “postcard’s city”. Later, with the Metropolitan plan, the municipality tried to attempt the large migratory waves with a regulation of city’s land use and then, in the democratic era of 80s, targeted interventions were focused on recovering the collective life of public space. The Olympic Village’s project rescues and promote the coastal area and built the roads to approximate the city and periphery. I think that today, political decisions have pointed to a new “Barcelona model”. Powered by significant foreign investments, this new profile of touristic exploitation is far from the needs and fears of citizens and try to reveal a new competitive city on the international scene.
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I was born in Argentina where cities are young and many of them have little historical heritage and any urban policy. For over 10 years in Barcelona I live between the districts of Poblenou, Fabra i Puig and El Clot and I’m always surprised to observe how the situations are topographically combined to the original constructions. I guess the outskirts of Barcelona, somehow, makes me feel at home. What i tried to emphasize in “Barcelona borders irregulares” was how “the city of the postcards” as I like to call the old town and l’Eixample district of Barcelona, is dematerialized toward “los bordes”.
By registering these places and their inhabitants, i try to emphasize the variety of relationships that occur there, with particular emphasis on the forms of appropriation of public space. Unlike the city center, in the suburbs, people use the common space almost like an extension of your home. They come in a nightgown, clean it up, chatting with neighbors and live with dignity or not: they are proud to inhabit. Somehow, life is more collective and private space fades into the public space.
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I decided to make a trip to discover the entire periphery, and i started my journey from the coast. Orienting with map, I discovered urban fabric and any special situation: polygons or blocks as San Illdefons and Mina, El Carmell and El Coll with their topographical feature; Bon Pastor and La Catalana which are virtually demolished; industrial areas as Verneda; the constant changes that occur in Poblenou; the contrast between Pedralbes and uptown; and old neighborhoods like San Andreu and Hospitalet, among others.
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The contact with people was much easier than I thought and most of them were very open. Although the reactions and experiences have been the most different, was evident the hermetism that I found in the Uptown, home to the richest. However, many immigrants from Andalusia and Extremadura told me popular histories about their neighborhood and complaints about the works realized or the uncertainty of not knowing the fate of relocation, served as my guide to discover the significance in my journey. The periphery, then, is a scenario where the city appears as a sum of diversities and expresses the social and cultural pluralism of its inhabitants.