This project tracks the process of transformation of Plaça de la Gardunya between the spring of 2018 and the beginning of 2005, following an inverse chronology, that is, from the present to the past.
As the title indicates, the idea of a progressive and temporal organisation is obviously inspired by Walter Benjamin’s “angel of history”. Therefore, the exhibition starts with the beginning of the academic year at the new Escola Massana and the arrival of the first inhabitants of the flats in 2017 and 2018, and ends with the oldest pictures of the back of the market in 2005.
The script of this urban process is well known: once again, it is an art institution, in this case Escola Massana, that determines an interior urban renewal scheme in the Raval neighbourhood, according to the logic of the old scheme entitled “del Seminari al Liceu”. Additionally, the project documents the metamorphosis of the Boqueria market and its surrounding area due to the growing pressure of tourism, the shift away from traditional commerce and local consumption and towards a new economy of gastronomic consumerism and mass tourism.
The route we take through the rooms bears a resemblance to an archaeological dig that uncovers geological strata and the remains of former lives. The route is not merely chronological but also thematic, in the form of microstudies: the restructuring of the market, the history of the square including the convent of Santa Maria de Jerusalem or the Academy of Medicine and El Corralet, Escola Massana and the move from the old premises to the new ones, the construction of the flats, and so on. It also includes photographs, publications and documents of a historical nature that complement and establish a dialogue with the photographer’s pieces.
This work forms part of a set of series created by Jorge Ribalta over the last decade, the common link between them being the portrayal of Barcelona in the wake of the 2004 Forum of Cultures, the last major urban development operation to have taken place in the city. These series include, among others, Trabajo anónimo (2005), on the last metallurgical facility in Can Ricart; Sur l’herbe (2005-2008), on the audiences at the Sónar festival; Futurismo (2011), on the landscapes of the new/old economy in district 22@; 1888 (2016), on the remnants of the Barcelona Universal Exposition of 1888, and Litoral (2017), on the area surrounding El Prat Airport during its extension.