Saturday, 14 February 2009
Can Ricart, Poblenou
Can Ricart (1853), designed by Josep Oriol i Bernadet (1811-1860), completed by Josep Fontserè i Mestres (1829-1897), was built for textile manufacturer Jaume Ricart. The factory closed only in 1970. Since then it has housed a manufacturing complex of some thirty firms employing 250 people. Two recent fires damaged the Can Font wing of the factory containing works of artists who were using the space. This had the effect of accelerating Barcelona city council's 22@ plan to redevelop the site for offices. Organizations such as Salvem Can Ricart (see also an associated blog) are fighting to preserve Can Ricart for its value to the local community and to preserve the industrial heritage of the Poblenou district (the 'Catalan Manchester').
I became aware of the dispute over Can Ricart after seeing Jacobo Sucari's tripartite video "La ciutat transformada" at CaixaForum (23 October - 8 December 2008). The installation at CaixaForum also featured Josep Saldaña's timeline and diagrammatic representation of the people and events concerning the fate of Can Ricart. More can be seen of the manufacturing activity at Can Ricart in a bliptv video and there is an article by Jeffrey Swartz in Fillip 7 (winter 2008) about Can Ricart as a focal point of the wider context of urban development in Barcelona.
The middle screen of Sucari's documentary explored the area of Poblenou around Can Ricart, the outer screens alternated between the people involved in the debates and plans for the redevelopment of Can Ricart and the recent history of the area. Not understanding Catalan, I became absorbed by the relative movement of images and overlap of sounds. A faint perception of the lines of argumentation emerged nonetheless, which implanted in me the desire to visit the area. Construction on the site of Can Ricart is being undertaken by tau icesa. The neoclassical factory buildings were visible from only one side of the perimeter, through square apertures of wire fencing. There was much graffiti relating to the protests at the 22@ plans, evidence still of occupation by squatters, and many prowling cats.