Research output: Other contribution


On the 24th of February 2004, heavy machinery entered an empty industrial plot in Barcelona occupied by some sixty Gypsy families. Over a few days two diggers drilled and lifted up the concrete floor of the site, intimidating the Gypsies and finally pushing them out. They left behind a contorted surface, like a horizontal wall, to protect the site and keep it empty. This method of dissuasion demonstrates the economic value of violence and destruction in order to control space. The broken ground, the fissures and fragments of concrete slabs standing up like remnants of ancient Mayan stelae give testimony, still today, of this displacement. "For Xavier Ribas photography is a medium belonging equally to many disciplines: documentary, anthropology, history, politics, social geography and art. His installation Nomads (2008) is a response to a very particular site in Barcelona. In 2004 around sixty gypsy families were pushed out of an empty industrial plot where they had settled, first by intimidation and then by the arrival of diggers that broke up the concrete surface to make it uninhabitable. Without secure finance or coherent plans to develop the site, it was left empty, suspended cynically between its past and an unknown future. Ribas’s first training was in technical drawing and very often his photographic projects show it. The chaotic forms of the site are made all the more striking by the diligent, quasi-forensic documentation and the geometry of his presentation. A formal grid of thirty-three black and white prints of the broken ground is flanked by a prosaic Google Earth view of the site and a ‘poetic’ diptych of storm clouds. Although its form is finely calculated, Nomads attempts no authoritative assessment of the situation, preferring to meet its audience half-way." © David Campany,This Must be the Place
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBelfast Exposed
Place of PublicationBelfast, Northern Ireland
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2009


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