Last Thursday it snowed in Barcelona. It happens with this city that it is very beautiful when it snows, because it hardly ever snows: it is almost like when someone very serious smiles. And on Thursday it turns out that it snowed. A lot. Especially on the Ramblas.
What happens is that only those of us who went to see the exhibition found out Barcelona Photographic Memory at Ideal Digital Arts Center, in the district of Poblenou.
The exhibition collects images captured by six of the best photographers in the history of the cityespecially during the fifties and sixties. A kind of ‘dream team’ made up of Francesc Català-Roca, Maspons, Leopoldo Pomés, Oriol Maspons, Colita, Joana Biarnés And, my favorite even though I love all the above, Xavier Miserachs.
Breathe another air
With theaters, cinemas and concert halls shuttered down, looking at photographs for weeks has been the way to breathe another air. Doing it in a conventional exhibition already works, but here we are facing a kind of immersive experience. Before certain words, like augmented reality, my Luddite self tends to take a step back and think that reality is plain enough. It is not the case.
So here I am, one Thursday in November in Barcelona, about to put on some augmented reality glasses: huge, like a diver in the Atlantic. It should be clarified before that we are in difficult times for glasses. My ears, adding the headphones to listen to music, the temples of the glasses and the rubber of the mask, seem like a roundabout in Glòries. And still, I decide to humiliate myself and put them on.
When the matter starts, you get into a kind of universe ‘Tron’. I have a four-month-old baby next to me in the car, for which augmented reality is probably when I go to kiss him on the nose, so I’ll live two worlds: I touch her hand to stay in 2020 and prepare for time travel.
Sitting in a chair that rotates 360 degrees, you can see a video background of a recent Barcelona, where the past images of the six photographers are interspersed.
The result is, for me, magical. Now that we barely left the house, suddenly I see myself not only in Montjuic, but in a Montjuic where La Chunga appears dancing Sevillanas with her family in 1953. And Bajo a Laietana, where I look at a horse that wants to cross the zebra crossing. Then I appear in a gathering of chairs al fresco in Channels. When a flock of pigeons takes flight and I see two girls, in geometric ‘sixty’ dresses, enter the Royal SquareAll the hairs on the arm with which I hold the baby’s hand stand on end. I see, too, a roller coaster of the Tibidabo and a group of gypsies on horseback in Barceloneta from the early sixties. And I fog up the augmented reality glasses, because it increases the excitement when I see sunset on the roof of a Pedrera where the neighbors still hang their clothes to dry. And, then, it snows on the Ramblas of 62.
Photos from other times superimposed on a video of the same city, also recorded when it was most deserted and depressed, in the March and April of the first confinement. Now that you cannot enjoy Barcelona, traveling back in time to retake it, even with foggy glasses, is a highly recommended idea.