(author: Arantxa Rodriguez)
Barcelona is a relatively small city that houses a large number of contemporary galleries and art spaces. Historically gathered around Consell de Cent street, new galleries started to pop up in the historical districts of Born and Raval. During the 90s and later on, in a quest for new spaces, in the periphery further away from the city center. Nowadays many different artistic areas coexist which allows for new perspectives and possibilities. However, the l’Hospitalet district stands out in Barcelona’s art scene due to its proximity to the metro. In L’Hospitalet is a wide range of projects that exist in the area that brings freshness to Barcelona’s art scene and fuels its dynamism. One of the latest galleries to open recently is L21 Gallery, adding to their locations in Palma de Mallorca, and opening their Barcelona space in March 2022. The gallery is spearheaded by Florence Rodenstein, she told us that they had been looking for a bright pleasant space, large enough to accommodate two exhibitions simultaneously, and ideal for the kind of work that they exhibit which is only possible in l’Hospitalet.
A former industrial building from the 70s in the Santa Eulalia quarter houses the gallery, alongside other established art spaces such as Ana Mas Projects or Nogueras Blanchard which were the first galleries that moved to l’Hospitalet back in 2016. On the ground floor, we can find etHALL, a street-level gallery that began as a non-profit project and has become a well-recognised gallery focused on seeking new dialogues, alternative elements of our culture that diversify the artistic discourse, and rethinking many of its roles and functions.
Barcelona’s art scene is quite alive and its small size generates a certain sense of community. That’s why each and every alternative project and space plays a fundamental role such as Raccoon projects, a new initiative by Margott Cuevas that was born from the idea of showing a particular vision, bringing new voices and perspectives through constant work by being present, receiving visitors and by exhibiting artists who haven’t had the opportunity to show their work yet, generating synergies and trying out new formulas. Opening its doors on July 1st, 2022, to coincide with the inauguration of ArtNou, it generated momentum that helped foster relationships between the galleries in the area. Another project is Tangent Projects, a curatorial initiative set up to work with artists on site-responsive exhibitions and projects, with a desire to add multiplicity to the current art archetype, working in a variety of different media and platforms. Without a commercial bias and with experimentation at its core, they invite artists to explore the diversions and deviations within their artistic practice “going off on a tangent”.
The new artistic hub in l’Hospitalet was born in response to the high rent prices in Barcelona or the difficulty to find spaces that could accommodate workplaces, exhibition halls, offices, and the possibility to offer artists’ residencies. The refurbishment of uninhabited, semi-ruined, or intervened spaces is common in l’Hospitalet. A good example is ‘De la Tierra’, a site-specific project that Lolo&Sosaku proposed to develop in an unused space owned by the Department of Culture of l’Hospitalet three years ago. They were looking for a place that was not currently inhabited but with evidence of human presence, and they found it in La Veloç, a former industrial factory where one can still find traces of the industrial archeology of the city. There, the boundaries between inside and outside are completely blurred and the perception of the visitor can change depending on the weather. The experience doesn’t feel the same on a sunny morning or on a rainy afternoon. To make it possible the windows were broken and a foggy atmosphere was artificially generated, making the viewer lose their vision and forcing them to sharpen alternative senses. The artist duo’s studio is also based in l’Hospitalet, and they have recently collaborated with other art spaces in town such as Galeria Alegria, which relocated from Madrid to l’Hospitalet in 2020.
There are many more interventions & artistic spaces as the one occupied by Laura Sebastianes & Max Milà Serra, two independent artists who were part of the Sociedad0 collective but decided to move from Poblenou to l’Hospitalet five years ago. Now they share studios and living spaces in an old car workshop that they renovated themselves. The peculiar structure of the building allows them to work in the open-door basement, which generates a particular relationship with curious neighbors who stop to observe and ask what is going on there. It is also worth mentioning many other projects such as Dracul·la, La Infinita, or Fase.xyz that generate creation through meetings with artists, curators, researchers, and other professionals related to artistic practices and contemporary thought.
Important energy is generated in l’Hospitalet and it’s interesting to see how different artistic projects connect with one another creating a sense of community, always supported by initiatives like Barcelona Gallery Weekend and other enterprises promoted by Abe (Association of Galleries of Barcelona), such as guided tours to engage new audiences.