Street Art Illuminates City's Broken Promise
In May, Spanish guerrilla art collective Luzinterruptus built a temporary memorial to a community pool.
Eight hundred glowing blue drops hang in space above cement,
as if a cluster of giant raindrops were suspended in time, swaying as people
move through them. The shimmering drops were hung by guerilla art collective Luzinterruptus
to bring attention to one of Madrid’s
threatened public spaces.
The space is home to a public market, Mercado de la Cebada (Barley Market), and once held a community
pool as well. When the city removed the pool in 2008 it promised another, but the
space is now slated for redevelopment as a luxury shopping center.
A local group reclaiming the space in its current,
semi-abandoned state calls it Campo de la
Cebada (Barley Field). “We believe in the enjoyment of public space before spaces offered by private entities, in which consideration for dialogue and social relations between neighbors is hardly given,” the group writes (article in Spanish) on their site.
According to Inhabitat,
Luzinterruptus memorialized the pool last year as well, filling
salvaged plastic cups with blue water, arranged in a rectangle suggesting
the shape of a pool.
This year’s installation, “Prophylactic Rain That Doesn’t
Wet Anything,” hints at an unfulfilled promise of water, paralleling the city’s
empty promise for a community pool. As Spanish newspaper El Pais reports, a city-funded redesign was approved
in 2007 (article in Spanish), though the subsequent recession made funds to
start the project scarce.
In 2010, then-mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón agreed to
let private investors take over development, with plans to turn the space into
a commercial shopping center and sports complex. The current public market will
be reduced from 70 to 30 stalls, while larger commercial enterprises occupy the
rest of the planned five-storey building.
The installation’s title gives a sly nod to the materials
used to make the installation–800 condoms filled with blue-tinted water. “After
the first few minutes of jokes and laughter had passed, everyone ended up
accepting that manipulating condoms was like any other activity of daily life,”
write the artists on
“We left the installation throughout the night of Saturday,
without knowing exactly what would happen the next day when there was a
celebration in La Cebada. When we returned on Sunday afternoon, we discovered
that the children had not been able to resist the temptation of having fun,
playing with the installation as if it were a piñata with shiny surprises in
Luzinterruptus has commented on water and public space
before. According to Public Art Review,
the art collective adorned
Madrid’s public water fountains with illuminated glass jars in 2012,
drawing attention to the fountains’ disuse. “In Madrid, in less than 30
years, more than 50 percent of the public fountains in service have been lost,”
the artists wrote. “We wanted to say that water is necessary for life.”
All images courtesy of Luzinterruptus.