The neighborhood of La Chanca is a historically impoverished zone made up of small dwellings built into the hillside on the outskirts of the city. The inhabitants painted their homes using whatever ingredients were available, resulting in a multicolored patchwork. Ruins still remain of a nineteenth century lead mining and transport operation that ran down the mountain to the nearby port. La Chanca has long been home to a diverse population, including fishermen and their families, a strong community of gypsies, and, more recently, immigrants from Morocco. Over the years, writers and photographers have been drawn to this spot as well.
In October 2008 I photographed the interior of the former Carabanchel prison in Madrid, one of the most infamous architectural landmarks from Spain’s decades of dictatorship. General Francisco Franco ordered construction of the complex in the 1940s to house the regime’s many political prisoners. After the prison was finally closed in 1998, the building became a haven for squatters, graffiti artists, and curious visitors. A month after my visit the entire structure was demolished to make way for a new urban development.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the region of Almeria, Spain, was host to dozens of filmmakers who constructed elaborate movie sets, invoking locations from the American Southwest to Bedouin Arabia. Films shot here include Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, and Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood. Film directors sought to manipulate the otherwise uninhabitable landscape in order to create a world more imaginary than real. Four decades later remnants of the old movie sets remain in the desert, providing seemingly tangible evidence of human settlements that never really existed.
On a recent visit to Almeria I was interviewed for “Abierto al Atardecer” on Interalmeria Tv. We discussed my great uncle, artist Federico Castellon, photographing movie locations and the neighborhood of La Chanca in... Read More.
Earlier this month the cavernous metal structure affectionately known as “The Toblerone,” in Almeria, Spain, was reduced to a pile of crumpled metal. The event inspired an unlikely wave of international support and creative activity. The building’s distinctive profile, mimicking the Swiss chocolates that are a standard fixture in Duty Free shops around the world, […]
On a recent visit to Almeria I was interviewed for “Abierto al Atardecer” on Interalmeria Tv. We discussed my great uncle, artist Federico Castellon, photographing movie locations and the neighborhood of La Chanca in Almeria, and the breaking news of the day — the demolition of the historic mine processing plant known as El Toblerone. […]
The camera is usually shooting out from the hillside, looking down over the installation. The sun sets behind the hillside, so the few glimpses in that direction are somewhat obscured by the glare of sunlight. One of the most intriguing locations in Almeria is the site of an elaborate fortress originally constructed in 1969 for […]
“Closed for Renovation” became a familiar refrain on my recent visit to Kazan, capitol of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia. As host city for the 27th Universiade Summer Games, Kazan has been undergoing a makeover. Dozens of museums, hotels, and Orthodox churches and mosques (the city has plenty of both) are being cleaned up. […]