This year’s Artomatic is the largest ever and includes the usual mix of good, bad and ugly. But, as reviewers have noted, it also includes a surprising number of experienced gallery artists. As a photographer interested in the transformation of abandoned architectural spaces, I find Artomatic fascinating. Apart from what one thinks of the quality of the art, I’m not aware of another all volunteer art show on this scale anywhere else. I participated this year by showing a single large-scale photographic print titled La Chanca (shown above).
The neighborhood of La Chanca is a historically impoverished zone made up of small dwellings built into the hillside on the outskirts of Almeria in the south of Spain. The inhabitants painted their homes using whatever ingredients were available, creating a multicolored patchwork. 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.
The panoramic image shown here, which I previously blogged about in more detail, is a composite of several images. I chose to show the piece at Artomatic because of La Chanca’s history of community organizing, DIY renovations, and use of art (sometimes skilled, sometimes not) to transform existing architecture. The pool of blue towards the left is a block-long mural by street artist Stook. Additionally, this urban landscape contrasts with the adjacent window view of Crystal City office buildings, a seemingly monolithic construction devoid of individual expression.