I’m getting used to the sound of hovering helicopters but what can I expect, living in Lavapiés? I live in a barrio so routinely pushed to the edge that, every now and then, the pressure becomes too much and its people crack.
Usman is a Mauritanian organic vegetable farmer with an allotment in the Jarama valley – a beautiful bit of local countryside with clay, terracotta soil, which I know well because I find it in the nooks of my freshly picked purple carrots.
I’d heard on the radio that there was going to be an eviction at 11 am, just a five-minute walk from where I lived. I turned on TeleMadrid and their cameras were already there. I put on my coat, grabbed my camera and said to my other half, “look out for me on the TV”.
Anti-homeless architecture is often disguised as useful features for pedestrians, but it secretly doubles up as defence against rough sleepers. Big money goes into making the most beautiful parts of Madrid hostile towards the homeless, and examples of these disturbing installations can be found everywhere you look.
Although street art is deeply connected with gentrification, its message is often precisely the opposite. The spray-painted murals adorning the walls of Madrid speak truths – truths that the passionate graffiti hunter Gerardo taught me how to read. In the secret messages left behind by graffiti writers, I saw not only themes of suffering and discrimination but also a growing backlash against them.
Under the first beam of sunlight on 3 October, diggers began tearing through people’s bedroom walls. By mid afternoon, around 50 makeshift homes had been razed to the ground, and around 80 people had been moved on.
Conciencia Afro may be a festival that celebrates African identity, but its core purpose is to confront the harsh reality of racism that Madrid’s African community faces on a daily basis.
As well as cleaning, receiving post, and providing comfort and security to her residents, María has invaluable long-term knowledge of her building. She knows every square inch, who has lived here and who has died here. She knows things you wish you knew, and things you’re glad you don’t.
Despite their straitened circumstances, the citizens of Lavapiés are a fiercely proud tribe. Throughout history, when pushed too far, they have risen up in bloody clashes with the authorities, and here’s why.
This is a life drawing by Nathan Brenville, an incredibly talented illustrator with an eye for Madrid’s local treasures, particularly those that are so often overlooked by other artists.