A project about art and gentrification

NOWPOBLENOU is a gentrification and art project created and led by the artist Jupiterfab.

It explores the transformation of El Poblenou, a formerly industrial neighborhood of Barcelona that has experienced dramatic changes to its physical and human landscape due to years of gentrification, and, more recently, to impacts from the financial crisis. The project focuses on the human dimension of this transformation, using the tools of art and anthropology to show the strength of a community that has preserved an extraordinary and unique human identity despite the changes. It lasted 4 years and is divided in 3 main parts: Murals, Interviews and a Documentary.

During the project, more than 50 volunteers worked. They are all young professionals working on different fields (audiovisual, literature, photography, anthropology, communications, etc.) and all contributed to the finalization of the project.

The project

NOWPOBLENOU focused on individuals who are living and working in Poblenou, who have an intimate connection with the neighborhood as a physical place. The aim of the project was to show the uniqueness and character of a neighborhood that has managed to preserve and build a particular energy in the face of dramatic changes.

For NOWPOBLENOU, Jupiterfab was assisted by a 20-people team with expertise in numerous fields (audiovisual, literature, photography, anthropology, communications, etc.).

The project began in 2013, when interviews with several residents of the neighborhood were conducted, including young and creative professionals who had moved to the area to work, as well as older people who have lived in Poblenou for most of their lives. In addition, Jupiterfab has painted large-scale black-and-white murals depicting the faces and gazes of interviewees, which embellish abandoned areas and visually imbue the physical space with the personality of the community.

Moreover, the artist created aproximately 20 murals in the streets of Poblenou, portraiting faces and gazes of its inhabitants to show visually the personality of the neighbourhood and at the same time he beautified the area rich of empty, gray and/or deteriorated walls.

The last part of the project has been the creation of a documentary about a neighbourhood (Poblenou) who tries to fight against gentrification and tourism. The work lasts approximately 60 minutes and it wisely mixes interviews to a group of diverse local inhabitants, evicted people, activists and urban anthropologists as well.

History of the neighbourhood

During the nineteenth century, El Poblenou became the industrial center of Barcelona, and during the last 40 years its design and economy have been steadily transformed. This process has been driven in large part by city-wide restructuring in connection with the 1992 Olympics, hosted by Barcelona, and by 22@Barcelona, the city’s plan to establish Poblenou as a high-tech center. Gentrification has emanated from the two ends of Poblenou, the Olympic Village and Diagonal Mar-Forum, where the process of gentrification is more or less complete. In contrast, the transformation of the center of the neighborhood has been slowed by the recent economic crisis, which has allowed long-term residents of such areas to preserve their customs to a greater degree. At the same time, the demographics of the neighborhood have evolved over time, with an influx of artists and young professionals over the past few decades, drawn to the neighborhood’s lofts and particular atmosphere, and more recently, an increase in the number of tourists and affluent individuals, due to the City Council’s efforts to attract tourism and wealth to the area.