Cabanyal 2010

The neighbourhood El Cabanyal, in Valencia, is facing an institutionalized destruction process. Nowadays, it is deeply deteriorated and socially divided. Part of the inhabitants shows interests in the urban-plan developed for the neighbourhood, which involves the demolition of a huge part of it, in spite of being protected as Bien de Interés Cultural (Heritage of Cultural Interest) since 1993.
We conjectured that many inhabitants are attached to an opinion not because they really studied the issue, but because of a feeling of belonging to a social group linked to a political sensibility. This is the main reason of existence of this project. I wanted to be sure people support this urban plan knowing what it involves.
The project was divided in three steps:

Step 1 - Activation (+/- 4 months)

The first step consist in the sticking big (180x120cm) posters on the walls of abandoned lots and bricked up houses of the threaten neighbourhood. These posters where photographs of high density housing.
The intention was to open a dialogue with the inhabitants asking indirectly if this is the lifestyle they want. We asked the passers-by to do an intellectual work to connect the several elements of the work (abandoned space, cultural worthy neighbourhood, high density housing).
Surprisingly, they reacted directly on the posters. I could found some writing saying thinks like "fuera okupas de mierda" ("get out shitty squatters", in British English). The posters became a platform for some inhabitants to express their sweet feelings.

Step 2 - Conclusion (+/- 1 month)

The second step added an fundamental information in the development of the situation of the neighbourhood. I painted over the photographs a piece of news extracted from a May 2008 article of El País, probably the most popular newspaper in Spain :

The promoters involved in the urban-planning plan judge it nonviable economically and withdraw from the project.

This relevant information, which were unnoticed when it was revealed, two years before I made this project, was supposed to inform the inhabitants who were supporting the urban-planning, and make them think about what would be the best option to get the neighbourhood in good condition again.

Step 3 - Being insistent (+/- 1month)

If the posters were for a long time without calling the attention of the city council, once I painted this sentence over the photographs, they was painted over in the next 48 hours, with a neutral colour, masking as much as possible that "something happened there".
The step 3 consist then in putting in evidence the censorship over the fact mentioned in the step 2, painting again and again over the neutral cover the same sentence.
After being a platform of dialogue with the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, the project ended being a platform of dialogue between the neighbourhood and the institutional power.

Con la colaboración de Pilar Escuder