A project about art and gentrification

NOWPOBLENOU is a gentrification and art project that explores the transformation of El Poblenou, a formerly industrial neighborhood of Barcelona that has experienced dramatic changes to its physical and humanlandscape 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.

The project was created and is headed by Jupiterfab, a visual and sound artist based in Barcelona who has exhibited his work and developed projects in a number of countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, Cuba, and Togo, in collaboration with various institutions and galleries and with a focus on community-based projects. For NOWPOBLENOU, Jupiterfab is assisted by a 20-person team with expertise in numerous fields (audiovisual, literature, photography, anthropology, communications, etc.).

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.

NOWPOBLENOU focuses 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 is 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.

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.

The team is now in the midst of shooting a documentary they plan to screen at international independent documentary film festivals. The main character is the neighborhood, Poblenou, its character and its uniqueness, shown through the eyes and the words of some of its inhabitants, who were selected among the people we had been interviewed during the first phase of the project.

Moreover, the opinion of some urban anthropologists, activists and people who had been evicted by

Their own houses conceptualizes the historic and unique period Poblenou is living in the last years.