I have been doing field work for my current street art research in Madrid, Valencia and Las Palmas for the last three months. This means I walk, look around and take pictures. One thing why I really like about being a street art researcher are the unexpected encounters that I almost everyday run into. Since I spend a lot of time in the streets I am also making observations about the Spanish society. While collecting my research material I have for example noted the changes in the gentrification processes and housing markets in Spain.
I tend to take a picture of everything I find noteworthy. Here are few examples from this autumn and winter.
Garbage and recycling procedures in Madrid
I used to wonder how Spanish artist Art is Trash, who uses trash as a main source of artistic inspiration, gets materials for his street art pieces. I no longer do that. Instead of recycling Spaniards seem to throw away everything in garbage. And since the garbage men come during the night, some of the things are visible in the street several hours before the pick up. Art is Trash has an endless resource of mattresses, toilet seats and chairs to paint on.
It is very common to see piles of clothes and furniture next to garbage pins since they hardly ever fit the small garbage cans (see photo above). But even for a long-time Madrid goer like myself this full fridge in the neighbourhood of Lavapiés was a peculiar sight (see below).
Facades of Spanish houses
Since the situation in Catalonia became a topic this autumn, it was pretty easy to spot from the street level what people thought about the independence. Balconies in Spain were suddenly covered with either a Spanish or Catalonian flag. Spaniards use their facades for many things. Some of them grow plants or dry their laundry on clotheslines just outside of their houses. And in some houses the facade is utilised to get some extra space (see photo below).
Homelessness in the Spanish streets
At the same time I observe the Spanish society slowly recovering from the financial crisis I see no decrease in the number of the homeless people. Every day I spot people begging in street corners and find cardboard beds in doorways. Sadly the situation seems to be like in my home country: during the economic recovery the income inequality level seems to get wider.
Spanish have a great DIY spirit. Walls are covered with self-made stickers for small businesses like moving, locksmith and cleaning services. You see handwritten notes offering cheap haircuts or flats for rent. Posters informing about nonprofit organisations and associations are everywhere. Why to pay to a newspaper to publish your ad when you can do it free in the streets?
What the whack?
And then there are moments when you spot three big water bottles tied up to a street pole and you remain without an answer to a question: “What happened here? What in earth are those water bottles for..?”
More photos from the Spanish streets on my Instagram.