One of the sites where Franco’s army would learn to build railroads, bridges and trenches now hosts an army of Madrid’s underground artists. Welcome to Zapadores (trenchers), Madrid’s City of Art.
Secret gay nightclubs and bars were opening right under Franco’s nose and the cornerstones of Chueca’s infamous nightlife were being laid. By the time the dictator died, in 1975, Spain’s marginalised communities were already organised and ready to begin the countrywide fight for freedom of expression.
Is Madrid your muse too? Here are seven unique artists and photographers that feel the same way…
It’s 1979. Franco had died just four years earlier and the transition to democracy was well underway. Everything painted, moulded and built in this era would become a time capsule to Spain’s post-dictatorship optimism. Or, at least, what still remains of this era.
The sun is setting and I’ve spotted some wild rabbits – their white flickering tails really give them away. They’re in an old trench digging diagonally into the pebbly soil, but possess no knowledge or concern over the possibility that they might be nesting alongside dismembered skeletons.
What the lateros are doing is illegal and there are police everywhere. If they’re caught selling beer, their stock, which they purchased themselves, will be confiscated. But, for the tin men, it’s worth the risk.
In one of Madrid’s many stark industrial zones, a Nigerian church provides an oasis of soul for its community. On any given Sunday, the area would be empty and silent, but for the rich gospel being performed to a lively crowd of parishioners.
What is an urban sky frame? It’s a worm’s-eye view centring around the sky, almost seamlessly framed by urban structures (a term invented right here, right now).
They’re perfectly placed should you spontaneously decide to get your shoes shined, grab a bag of chestnuts or pick up a newspaper, but these gifts of the street are rewarded only to those who slow down. Allow yourself an extra five minutes to get to the nearest no-frills bar, and you’ll witness our streets come alive with a multi-generational community of micro shops.
For the past few centuries, Spaniards from all over the country have been packing their bags, saying adios to their towns and villages and setting sail for the big city. When they arrive in Madrid, they disperse into many different lines of work, but there’s one business over any other that harks back to the most recent migration boom. You guessed it: Madrid’s no-frills bars.