”Not even God lives here” | Real (E)State by Emilio López-Galiacho

“Architecture
is in exile now
on the moon
or at the north pole

while people are building

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses

houses.”

When Hans Hollein wrote Architecture is in Exile Now in 1960, maybe he didn’t know [or maybe he did know] that this short poem will be so visionary, as it is the work of Emilio López-Galiacho, Real(E)State, a strong denunciation of the abuses committed from the real estate world and also a kind of manifesto against the “sickness” and rottenness of the Spanish situation of recent years.

Helped by low interest rates since it joined the euro in 1999, Spain has been erecting houses at an astonishing rate. The housing bubble has been affecting many countries in the world since the past three years, as we all know, and housing prices that peaked in early 2005, started to decline in 2006 and 2007, and may not yet have hit bottom as of 2010. In Spain, the construction sector has been one of the country’s motors of growth, so its cooling down is also affecting the Gross Domestic Product [GDP] and every day life of thousands of people.

We have been living in an era where the market has been telling us for decades that this is the “city of tomorrow”:

But in 2006, Emilio López-Galiacho reacted with a provocation for us to see that if we continue acting under “the market” rules, this might be the “city of tomorrow”:

While the whole system is pushing every community to act under the rules of market, capitalism, consumption, there have been appearing situations that show something is going wrong. Under a fictional goal of global economic stability, the IMF has been applying its own ideology based upon the Western economy, where production and income is more important than human relations. This fact has led to situations where every man is not perceived as a citizen but a salary man, and his home is nothing more than a product determined by financial rules rather than relational links. Is in these moments when there is a need of some forward-thinkers like Hollein in the 1960s, catching up our attention and making us think.

Galiacho‘s art-work performs the same function as Hollein’s toughts. It is specifically focused on Sanchinarro, a neighborhood arisen from the Urban Action Program [PAU] that arose from the preparation of the General Urban Plan in 1997 of the municipality of Madrid. Building started in the early twenty-first century and is the perfect example of the Spanish Real State Bubble.

Emilio López-Galiacho’s work on his Sanchinarro series, has been described by Alfonso Armada as:

The world beyond reproach, and even accelerated progress, the level of cities that represent a trade with laminated surfaces, reflective stainless steel, glass, titanium, chrome, fiberglass and polyester. A composite of bull’s blood reflected in other buildings, other volumes, the dream that perhaps will become a nightmare […] But there is a crack where the conceptual work of Emilio López-Galiacho comes in, with his movie camera, his forensic expert instrumental in its darkness. And the restlessness begins to appear on the edges, arcs, angles, curvature of existence: an expanding universe that compressed the cranial vault. His brace is moral, bores the viewer. All the math that seemed to have built a perfect Maginot line, China’s most impenetrable wall against the flow, the smells, the unpredictable reality peek in their windows over evil, hidden in the certainty that architecture wants to install in the philosophical and political contemporary wasteland. Here comes the constructive chaos.

“Mortgages and ibuprofen, madrid rheumatism, the p.a.u. of my life, civic betadine, moral auger, muddy composite of properties and safes, shimmer of entrails and bad built slab at the rear of banks and stores, guts sound before signing so much endorsements as colonoscopies, legitimate, certified, fair, evicted viscera don’t constitute guarantee”.
Emilio López-Galiacho, fall 2010

Going further on this review of Sanchinarro, we found this dialogue that is worth to mention here:

Javier Usua and Ruth Graneda never got out of the car when they visited Sanchinarro and Las Tablas, two of Madrid’s biggest new suburban developments. The concrete-block buildings and empty streets were all they needed to see.

”We came to look at apartments but found ghost towns,’‘ said Usua, a 27-year-old taxi driver. “You’d need to drive miles for a loaf of bread or cigarettes and my girlfriend found it creepy and unsafe so we turned around and left.”

Maybe we can think that Galiacho‘s dystopian world is shared with the Ballardian vision, which according to Tacita Dean, “appealed to generations later than his own, those who had spent their childhoods in newly built cityscapes already in decline, in the underpasses and overpasses of 1960s construction.”

In Sanchinarro and Las Tablas, Esperanza Aguirre, president of the regional government of Madrid, opened the first light railway stop last month. No passengers descended from or boarded the bright red-and-blue train this week when it stopped at the station during lunch time. Spaniards traditionally go home for lunch.

”Not even God lives here” Usua said.

—–

We believe that it is optimal time for us to generate and apply new ideas on the design of our cities, based in human connections rather than economic conditions. We should save and reuse them, just like farmers do with grain for hard times, just in case the economic rules try to deceive and fool us again.

—–
Related readings and links:
– Emilio López-Galiacho web-site
– Real (E)State short video presented at “Madrid Futuro” Festival, in Matadero Madrid, October 2010 on vimeo
– De aquellos ladrillos, estos lodos. Article by Luis castro Nogueira published in El País on October 30th, 2010. [Spanish]
El hombre que inventó Sanchinarro by 6.000 km [Spanish]

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