• MAR 04 to APR 15
    Grupo de lectura:Del Chino al Raval. ¿Existe una estética de los bajos fondos de Barcelona? Coordinado por Joan M. Gual


    • Educational
    • Contemporary

    Dates and Opening hours

    MAR 04 to APR 15, 2013

    Event Location

    Museu d´Art Contemporani de Barcelona - MACBA

    Plaça dels Àngels, 1 08001 Barcelona

    View website


    Ground floor of MACBA's Study Centre. Free admission. Limited seating

    In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the history of the Raval – formerly known as the Barrio Chino or the Fifth District – is the history of a great many people who have lived, shared or simply passed through this area during that period. It is also the history of its numerous cultural representations produced to this day. When Paco Villar said in his official chronicle that the Barrio Chino died in 1987, he was contrasting a specific idea of the area with the urban planning that had by then already been approved and was beginning to be carried out prior to the 1992 Olympic Games. The Barrio Chino began, officially, when the journalist Paco Madrid gave it this name in the magazine El Escándalo during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

    The Barrio Chino is associated with the Republic (through the Macià Plan created by GATCPAC), the Franco era, the democratic Transition and the pre-Olympics Barcelona of heroin, through a prolific cultural production that has represented it over the years. Non-fiction images, literature and the press have played a fundamental role in justifying the urban transformations that took place, firstly due to the demands of those living there and later to the policies of the town planning department at Barcelona City Council, led by Oriol Bohigas from 1984 to 1992. The idea of 'revitalising the city centre and monumentalising the periphery' served, among other things, to turn the Barrio Chino into the Raval, and moreover, to clean up an area that had been the subject of many frustrated urban plans since the mid-nineteenth century.

    The cultural regeneration of the area, the construction of cultural institutions to change its profile in the nineties, together with the massive influx of immigrants and the opening of the Rambla del Raval, with the subsequent displacement of people who lived in the streets formerly occupied by it, have been the subject of many research projects, artistic productions and evaluations, which we can now observe through the lens of José Luís Guerín: 'Changes in the urban landscape mean changes in the human landscape'; and the writer Zola: 'Urban transformation equals moral transformation.'

    Through carefully selected texts, this reading group will investigate the relation between myth and metropolis in the city of Barcelona, as well as the dynamics of rupture and continuity between two periods in an area that, despite its change of name and physiognomy, continues to be newsworthy due to the stigmas that have historically plagued it, such as sex workers in the streets, and to the abundant cultural products reflecting on the moral geography of Barcelona.

    Can we talk about the aesthetics of the lower depths? If the answer is yes: How has the Raval (or the Barrio Chino or Fifth District) contributed to it?

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