The (Sa)badall collective
, consisting of the photographer Berta Tiana Alsina and the geographers Maties Serracant Camps and Bernat Lladó Mas, explores the new geographic realities of territorial and urban space. The group aims to highlight, through its unhurried, critical gaze combining different formats and languages, a number of contemporary urban and territorial dynamics so as to provide a framework for debates and reflection on these issues. (Sa)badall’s first project is the exhibition Urbanoporosi. Sabadell i els silencis urbans (Urbanporosis: Sabadell and Urban Silences) with the economic and institutional support of the Alliance Français of Sabadell.
The Urbanoporosi project began in 2009. After noting the proliferation of abandoned, neglected, underused, closed or vacant lots in the city of Sabadell, the group embarked on a systematic inquiry into these spaces according to certain criteria. The first was the perspective of landscape – recording the most obvious empty spaces at ground level – namely those empty lots that were most visible in the setting of public space from the point of view of a model pedestrian. Hence this archive only includes the city’s facades (ground floor spaces, business premises, building sites, old steam mills, and so on). The second criterion was urban, concerned in particular with the empty spaces in the consolidated city, only marginally registering the underused space resulting from the most recent urban growth. An important part of the research has been done as fieldwork, especially on foot, so that walks around the city are both an instrument by means of which to recognise and evaluate some of today’s urban phenomena and also part of (Sa)badall’s artistic-geographic project.
Once the archive – presently consisting of some 1,000 photographs, most of them geo-referenced – was created, approximately fifty images have been prepared for public exhibition. All the photographs share some homogenous formal criteria and they do not only portray reality but also “moods”. The photographic image is the first of four languages used in the exhibition Urbanoporosi. Sabadell i els silencis urbans. The second is cartographic language. Most of the blocks of land conforming to the aforementioned criteria have been located by means of cadastral cartography. Two maps have been produced, one adopting the typology that is also used to classify photographs, while the other only represents the “blotches” occupied by vacant spaces. The latter map will be laid out on the floor of the exhibition hall and, although even it must sacrifice some of the established cartographic codes, it gives a summarised overview of the scope of the phenomenon. A third language is the filmed document. In order to introduce “movement” into an intrinsically static representation (photography, cartography), a video film has been made showing the streets and areas of the city with the highest proportions of vacant lots. Finally, the exhibition includes texts and quotes by the collective and other writers which, one way or another, are in tune with the general message of the project and which have made it possible to expand its sense.
The project does not end inside the exhibition hall, however. It aims to shape a public space on the basis of the exhibition or, in other words, create a context for people to get together and reflect not only upon the issue of urban neglect but also the political project of the future city. Hence a series of routes and interventions (by other collectives in the city) have been organised, as well as public debates.