When you first glimpse Marivi Ibarrola’s casually composed photographs of Lavapiés in the 1980s, you feel as if very little has changed. But stare for longer and you’ll see some profound differences: the Tabacalera no longer emits smoke from its chimney, the anarchists have been gentrified out of their squats, and cinemas have been demolished to pave the way for the Lavapiés we hang out in today.
Let Marivi transport you back to La Movida, the rebellious post-Franco movement that finally set Spain on a much-needed trajectory towards modernity. There are punks on the streets of Lavapiés protesting their rights to live in squats.
Once the neighbours got over the initial shock of us arriving, they seemed to be on board with our wish to live alongside them, living the lifestyle that we do.
In the 1980s, the 10-metre walls surrounding the Tabacalera were covered in the odd bit of protest graffiti. Today, they’re a mood ring of Madrid’s hipsters and a fought-over canvas for emerging Spanish artists.
Multiple generations of the same families talk about their businesses. It’s the same in Lavapiés today: there are centenarian family stores and bars, but much, much fewer.
Marivi also shows us the old Lavapiés metro entrance still open, and that Plaza Nelson Mandela wasn’t even a plaza yet: the old convent had been demolished but, at that time, it was a pile of dirt and rubble.
The theatre on Plaza Lavapiés was then a small cinema called Cine Olimpia, and the Odeon cinema on Calle Encomienda was in full swing. It was demolished last year, and works have begun on the eight-storey hotel that will take its place.
Stroll very slowly around this 19th-century space containing around 40 photographs and take in the detailed account of Marivi Ibarrola’s memories on the day she took each photo – it’s the stuff time-travellers dream of, especially those who frequent the unique barrio of Lavapiés.
- Address: Espacio de Encuentro Feminista, c/ Ribera de Curtidores, 2 (access via the front and up the stairs)
- Open Monday to Friday, 4.30 to 9 pm
- Exhibition runs from 7 to 31 May