art.es: What's going on in… Barcelona? The inter-cultural nature of the city
Barcelona has got it all. Or at least that's the popular view when it comes to weighing up the city's charms.
It's just that Barcelona is a city like few others. Its strategic geographical position has allowed it to become almost a core point of nearly all the cultural as well as economic spheres of Europe. Recognized as the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, the city is located on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, some 120 kilometres from the Pyrenees, very close to France's southern border. Its northern limit is marked by the river Besós, and to the south by the river Llobregat, natural frontiers just like the Sierra de Collserola to the west, which are all responsible for the amicable climate and diet that the city has, even during the winter.
When the year 2000 arrived, Barcelona entered its third millennium. Founded by Emperor Augusto shortly before the beginning of the Christian era, its original name was Colony lulia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino, from where its current name was derived. A direct heir of Roman civilization, the character of the city is given in large measure by the moods produced by its architecture. In addition to its profound Gothic nature, Barcelona is the capital of modernism and a "model to follow", according to contemporary urbanism.
Beyond its imposing industrial past, its position as a capital of design and its reiterated commitment to peace, Barcelona is acknowledged as a city where technological, social and business innovation meet in a cosmopolitan and inter-cultural climate that in current times sets trends in European markets and thinking. It goes without saying that its nightlife is one of the most pulsating in the surrounding region. Its popularity soared in 1992 after it staged the Olympic Games, although on many occasions it has hosted international events such as the Universal Exhibition of 1888 (and also that of 1929) or the Universal Forum of Cultures of 2004.
These days, the city's most ambitious project is concentrated in the Poblenou neighbourhood (known at the moment as "the Manchester of Catalonia"), and is known as 22@, a prototype of "city of the future" in which the subjects to boost in the next few years will be technology, communication and entertainment. The economic rehabilitation of some of its oldest neighbourhoods, as well as the staging of several cultural events, art fairs, music festivals and many other activities, have given back to the city that friendly character which had been declining due to the surge of property speculation over the past few years.
The city's artistic scene is currently shaped not only by state institutions or museums dedicated to the region's artistic dynamism, but also by an important number of private initiatives that are not limited to covering the commercial gallery circuit based on the area around Consell de Cent Street or the Born neighbourhood. It is influenced also by a growing number of collective projects that have as a mission that of boosting both the production and the artistic projection at both a national and international level. The links between art and business are more and more frequent. In that sense, it is worth mentioning initiatives such as the Association of Barcelona Art Galleries, the Hangar Centre of Visual Arts Production, the video art producer and distributor Hamaca, the Piramidón Centre of Contemporary Art, the Espai Ubu, the Antigua Casa Haiku, and more recently the artistic space NIU in the centre of Poblenou, to mention only a few.
Gino Rubert, The birth of Venus (2008)
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