This summer’s film season explores the idea of neighbourhood cinema as an open, local space, in which images prompt a dialogue on the history, local residents, aspirations and desires inhabiting Madrid’s Lavapiés barrio. Not only is this neighbourhood the home of the Museo, it is also an example of a historic quarter transformed by the complex dynamics of real-estate speculation and a large influx of tourists, a similar story in numerous international-scale city centres. Lavapiés, authentic and outspoken, refuses to fade, reaffirming itself again and again as a space of opposition and social reinvention. To put it another way, the neighbourhood it has always been.
The history of Lavapiés is the history of Madrid, but its most working-class, low-income, tumultuous and rebellious side, the town detached from the royal courts, the seat of power. The opening sessions in the series show early films which focus on and are shot in this neighbourhood: Lavapiés, tough and subversive (Esencia de verbena and Domingo de Carnaval); the first disembarkation point for rural exodus (Surcos), and abashed in its misery (El verdugo); its conception as a brittle paradise (Bajarse al moro) and a repository of rebellion and local memory (Madrid); the search for local resistance (A ras del suelo) where others only sniff get-rich-quick opportunities (Las manos sobre la ciudad).
The second half of the series moves away from Madrid, looking to other geographical and mental coordinates for its identity, unearthing the sprawling imagery and sensibilities that shape and mould the neighbourhood. The desires and limits of the capacity to embrace human beings (The Other Side of Hope and Hotel Cambridge); recollecting the junction between activism and contemporary art (The Yes Men); and, in the final stretch, extolled snippets of better worlds to which the cultures running through the neighbourhood have contributed: the creative defence of territory and ways of life from ideological and generational confluence (Tous au Larzac!); the experience of subjects, love and care demonstrated by ecofeminism and hacktivism (Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival); and the generous, open and united tradition of Islam (Al-Massir).
The films will be introduced by members of collectives, artists, and intellectuals – local residents, ultimately – who will relate their field of work with the theme of each session, illustrating the richness of the barrio’s associative network. The series opens with a concert by the group Variedades Azafrán and their contemporary take on authentic popular music from Madrid.