Catalan Review

Urban Projections: The Search for the Democratic City in the Photography of Joan Colom

Catalan Review (2014), 28, (1), 57–81.

Abstract

This article seeks to trace the foundations of a democratic Barcelona during Franco's dictatorship as registered by the photographic lens of Joan Colom (1921-), who between 1958 and 1961 took as part of his subject matter the interior margins of the Raval. There, his photography conceives a city whose material base depends precisely on its multiplicity, on the difference that the construction of a socially and culturally homogeneous Barcelona was designed to eliminate. With his wanderings through everyday life in the Raval, he heralds the possibility of a new urban order and the notion of a democratic public space, which breaks with the rectilinear design that the regime sought to impose through the fragmentation of the city. Echoing the urban formulations of Henry Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, and Manuel Delgado, Colom's conception of Barcelona's organization emphasizes a mobile city, a Barcelona constructed not through its materiality, but from the movements and relationships of its inhabitants. Through an analysis of "La Calle, ca 1958-1961," this article explores the ways in which Colom's photography was able to project several key features of modern urban life.

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Ferrer, Olga