The architect Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT/Fundació Enric Miralles) and the stage director Àlex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus) are organising a significant intervention in the city this year. In the context of the commemoration events encompassed in the Tercentenary BCN programme, some of Barcelona’s most symbolic public spaces will change thanks to a set of artistic and architectural installations that propose a reflection upon such concepts as identity, freedom and democracy.
The first installation will take place in May in Ciutadella Park. Inspired in the old city wall and its subsequent destruction, this action by Benedetta Tagliabue and Àlex Ollé will symbolise the recovery of the city by its citizens. The idea of reconstruction and destruction of the rampart and of the walls of the world will make way for the creation of six ephemeral installations designed by six international architects, in conjunction with Barcelona’s leading schools of architecture and design. They will be erected in Plaça dels Àngels, Plaça de Salvador Seguí, Plaça de la Mercè, Plaça Nova, Plaça del Mar and Arc de Triomf.
Studio Odile Decq, Peter Cook and Yael Reisner, Grafton Architects, ETH Zürich & Urban–Think Tank, Anupama Kundoo and Urbanus are the guest architects from France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Ireland, Switzerland, Venezuela, Australia, India and China. Some of the city’s schools of architecture and design will play host: La Salle (URL), ESARQ (UIC), IAAC and ELISAVA (UPF). And, in addition to these institutions, other participants will include the Institut del Teatre and various international schools of architecture and design, which will all work together on this educational, architectural and artistic initiative.
On too many occasions we forget that the city, that space bordered by walls which mark the interior and exterior of our privacy and which we inhabit in complete oblivion, is the place we must think of as the setting for “social drama”. Seen like this, the wall turns into a different reality, one we could consider a reflection of our fears. With walls we protect what we love most. Our walls, the walls of our homes, safeguard our dreams from “others” (a word as imprecise as it is disturbing). But when we think of ourselves as a community our individual, familiar dreams become entangled with those of our friends, of our neighbours, with the dreams of those for whom we feel an affinity, a certain empathy, for professional reasons, economic reasons, historical reasons, or social reasons. When they guard the dreams of us all, these walls become ramparts. Ramparts that protect us from what we call our enemies… Etymologically, an enemy is a person we feel is not a friend, a word which in turn comes from the Old English freogan “to love, to favour”. The story of the walls of a city is, in short, a story of loves and antipathies.
This vision of the wall, however, remains an inadequate vision, because within the ramparts not all of us dream the same. There are dreams that enter into conflict with other dreams. Walls against walls, rivals against rivals. As well as walls against which there is no other wall (nor perhaps even roof) to defend them. The walls of the powerful defend them from the dispossessed. And when the powerful have to hide behind their walls it is because the dispossessed have occupied the space outside those walls, the street, the space of revolution. When injustice becomes unbearable, we must fight against the walls. Fight by transforming them. We must publicly denounce what we are fighting against. Paint the walls, write on the walls, condemn on the walls the abuses committed by the owners of the walls. Those without walls must confront the walls. Tearing down the walls means transforming the face of the city. On occasions it becomes necessary to break down the walls of injustice.
That, the polysemy of the wall, is what we are trying to highlight with our installation. The Citadel, where the wall we have imagined with Benedetta Tagliabue rises up, forms part of the history of loves and antipathies of the city of Barcelona. The Citadel, built after the Catalans were defeated defending Barcelona on 11 September 1714, was a military fortress which had a dual purpose: to defend the city in the case of attack from the exterior, but also to repress any Barcelona citizens who wanted to challenge the dominant power. It was, so to speak, a wall facing both inward and outward. The wall of those with power against their enemies – but not perhaps the enemies of Barcelona people – and against the citizens dispossessed of power. Barcelona finally demolished the Citadel walls in 1869. - Àlex Ollé and Benedetta Tagliabue
From 10th of June, six architectural installations will occupy six venues in Barcelona, related to the history of Catalunya: Arc de Triomf, Plaça Nova, Plaça del Mar, Plaça dels Angels, Plaça de Salvador Segui and Plaça de la Mercè. The aim is that these instalations invite people to walk around the city, choose their own itinerary and participate actively. Each installation associates different concepts linked to the commemoration of Tricentenari BCN: Identity, Diversity, Freedom, Democracy, Memory and Europe.