2009-2010. Laurence Bonvin. GHOSTOWN (2009.03 / project review / theoretical data)

MARCH 2009


For Madrid Abierto 2009-2010 I intend to realize a photographic essay about two new neighborhoods in the outskirts of Madrid : Valdeluz, 60 kilometers north-east of Madrid, next to the city of Guadalajara and Seseña located 60 km south of Madrid.

The first example is part of a long term development planning along the Northern A2 highway. The exclusive city originally planned for 30’000 people, including tennis courses and a golf course has come to a sudden stop in its development as the real estate crisis strongly hit Spain at the end of 2008. Currently the city counts 350 inhabitants, one grocery, many walled commercial spaces and an infrastructure waiting for further building activity. The nearby railway station offers a connection to Atocha in 20 minutes 4 times a day and reports an average of 15 people using this expensive facility everyday. 

Seseña in the south of Madrid, represents the cheap version of Valdeluz. Built by a former sewage worker, El Porcero, it operates on several levels : as a personal utopia giving low income families an opportunities to buy a flat, or as a speculative tool for other people. Most people actually bought units in order to resell them with profit which explains why only 750 inhabitants are officially recorded in a city originally planned for 13’000 units where over 2500 people have bought one or several flats. Almost no one lives in a neighborhood that popped out of nowhere, in a semi desert area where water had to be brought in and no direct public transport connects Seseña to Madrid.

I intend to approach both locations starting from a large, distant, general view, landscapes and urban landscapes to penetrate the spaces and capture precise details in architecture, infrastructures, facilities, everyday scenes and portraits. Isolation, void, a sense of loneliness, of time suspension and unsettling feeling of uncertainty will provide for the general atmosphere of the series.

These different aspects will be put together in order to create a strong narrative. I will work in color with a medium and a large format camera. The 25 to 30 images will be edited and printed as a supplement to be inserted with a daily or a weekly newspaper or magazine on the day of the opening and distributed for free in the information booth of Madrid Abierto during the whole duration of the exhibition.

The insert will also include a selection of texts : one by Basurama team on the local context and interpretation of the real estate and urban development crisis, one interview with Kyong Park on the global approach of the issue and a general analysis by an author of the real estate significance as part of a global monetary flux and speculation phenomenon.

Texts will be printed in original language and translated into Spanish and English.

The publication should ideally freely distributed as a supplement with the week-end issue of a major newspaper such as El Pais. This possibility would depend on the interest of one newspaper to support the project and finance part or all of the printing costs for the insert. The actuality of the thematic could present some interest for a newspaper.

The publication will anyhow be available (for sale) throughout the exhibition in the information booth of Madrid Abierto. A launch could also take place on the day of the opening. This publication consisting of the selection of images and a choice of texts that could take 2 forms : as a newspaper’s supplement freely distributed with the weed-end edition of El Pais (i.e.), as a soft cover / box artist publication for sale during Madrid Abierto in the info both, in a selection of bookshops and distributed by a distribution company.

A collector’s edition with a signed print could also be on sale to support the funding of the project.

Additionally ink-jet printed posters will be placed in a selection (10-15) of Mupis on El Paseo del Prado near Atocha.

Technical details for the publication :

Format : to be defined
Color print, fine semi-mat paper
Number of pages : 64 (provisional)
Edition : ?
Cover/box for artist’s edition