Gillian McIver


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Memory Walk is about the world changing around you, about not having a great deal to say about it, about the privatisation of public space and about the loss of a sense of identity connected to locality. It is simply a meandering walk through the neighbourhood of Poble Nou, along the Diagonal del Mar and the side streets that feed into and out of it.

Memory Walk is set in Barcelona, a city I don't have a close connection to. I started the project - without realising it - on my first visit there. The first walk took place 22 February 2004; I was wandering through the district of Poble Nou. Once known as the “Catalan Manchester” Poble Nou was purpose-built as an industrial town outside the city, and like cities such as Nottingham, the workers lived in clusters around the factories.

As I walked, I took a variety of photographs of the area, The images of old industrial buildings, many of which which were being torn down, were especially pleasing in the late afternoon early-spring sunshine. Strong, elongated shadows, rough layered textures, sharp juxtaposition of colours.

My second walk, the “Memory Walk”, was made on 23 October 2007. This walk was made with the aid of the photographs taken on the first walk, three and a half years earlier. An attempt was made to locate and photograph the same places photographed in 2004. It was very difficult. Almost nothing is left of the Poble Nou area around Diagonal del Mar. The record remains, in my photographs and elsewhere - in people's blogs and testimonials - of the shape and culture of old Poble Nou just before it disappeared.

At that point, my position as a flaneur photographer shifted from that of an observer of the textures and fabric of the city, to that of an engaged participant. My photographs have ceased to be solely “artistic objects,” but have become recordings of a political issue, a social process. Whatever I might choose to do with the images, they will always have this dual meaning.

Gillian McIver 2007
"Memory Walk" was exhibited at IN SITU, Farinera del Clot, Barcelona 2007


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