'43 Mercats de Barcelona' is a project I completed over six days in early May of 2022 as a prelude to the 'Sustainable Strategies' module of the MA Photography at Falmouth University. We were invited to carry out a project using the 'Twentysix Gasoline Stations' work of Ed Ruscha from 1963. Since the early 1960s, Ed Ruscha has been offering the world his sideways-on, sardonic view of American life, particularly its southern Californian variant. He has lifted the familiar into the realm of the iconic, using petrol stations, apartment blocks and styles of font on adverts to name just three examples.
Ruscha’s subjects are often found in the places where he lives and works, pulling in a mixed bag of images from the film and advertising industries as well as an exciting array of trends and ‘cultural ticks’ arising from an area known for being a world centre of stylishness. Ed Ruscha is the archetype of the Los Angeles artist whose work turned pop art from a local into a global form of individual expression.
The forty-three municipal markets of Barcelona are distributed throughout the city’s neighbourhoods and districts. I have chosen these buildings because while they are found across the city, and some even have iconic status, they are also akin to Ruscha’s gasoline stations in that while people visit them frequently these buildings serve a necessary function in the local urban landscape. They are ‘just there’; life without them would be unimaginable.
Photography for the project was conducted between 30th April and 5th May 2022, using a Fujifilm XT-4 camera with a Fujinon 16mm f2.8 lens. I constructed a plan to follow lines 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Barcelona metro system, in each case taking a train to their farthest extent (and beyond in the case of Line 4) and working my way back into the city centre stopping off at each station near to a market. In addition, I travelled on lines 10 and 7, on each occasion to reach a single out-of-the-way market. The city centre markets, I walked to, and for five awkwardly-positioned markets, I hired a taxi and driver for one hour on the afternoon of Sunday 1st May.