Xavier Ribas. Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca 1998. 65 pages. ISBN 84-7481-988-1 (softbound)
This monograph presents my photographic work on the peipheral landscape of Barcelona titled Sundays (1994-1997). This work has been exhibited and published in numerous solo and group exhibitions and catalogues. (see: www.xavierribas.com). The book contains essays by Ramón Esparza and myself. It is published in English and Spanish.
The images look at the peripheral landscape of Barcelona after the massive urban redevelopment on the occassion of the Olympic games of 1992. The images focus on the residual spaces at the edges of the city trying to investigate their significance and the significance of their use by city dwellers for their Sunday leissure.
These are some extracts of my book essay Perfect Distraction:
"If you take a stroll one sunny Sunday morning through the peripheries of Barcelona you’ll come across a strange landscape. Between the motorways and housing blocks, the industrial states, the commercial centres and sports complexes; between the nature parks and the theme parks, at the edge of all this contemporary urbanization, you will find the marginal areas where folk flock together every week to spend their free time. The question is: Why do people turn these residual spaces into the centre of their leisure activity?"
"Lewis Baltz said that the most untamed pockets of wilderness in the Western world were to be found at the peripheries of big cities (while in fact the idea of a nature park implies a certain intervention and a long list of prohibitions). According to Baltz these marginal spaces found at the city’s edge are where we can best experience the absence of order and the social laws which keep us in check. And Watteau calls up similar feelings in his famous painting Embarkation for Cytherea. In it the painter offers us his Classical version of the return to Nature, with caryatids and cherubims, in a setting which abounds in vegetation and studied gesture. It’s a scene full of noise and acrobatics, which shows the transformation undergone by man and woman when they get back their lost paradise of love and celebration. The marginal land of the urban peripheries, like Watteau’s Isle of Cytherea, is a superfluous place within the limits of the strictly necessary, where one can get into such anodyne activities as having a walk, reading or picnicking, simply for the pleasure of the distraction without intermediaries."
"It could be argued that occupying these places is a response to a desperate situation. Or as Albert Camus puts it in The First Man, the poor person’s lot is to live eternally surrounded by common names (and places). However, when I’ve visited such cathedrals of organized leisure as Isla Fantasia, Port Aventura or Montigalà, I’ve found more tranquillity in the adjacent patches of wasteland converted into improvised sunday dining rooms, than in the park interior itself. It strikes me that behind this improvisation there lies more design than accident. It is possible, then, that the interest in these spaces is due more to people coming to see the periphery as a place of freedom. Or put another way, that freedom can only arise in a residual space, and therefore presents us with an image of desolation."
C-Type print 120x140 cm