© XAVIER RIBAS - CONCRETE GEOGRAPHIES, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona [MACBA], June-October 2014 - [Installation photographs ©Marc Roig and XR]


Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona [MACBA], June 2014



In the mid-1990s Xavier Ribas first became known with his project Sundays, 1994–97, an investigation of the outskirts of Barcelona. With this series, which initiated his anthropological perspective and earned him immediate recognition, he began his research on the relationship between the urban and the everyday. Ribas’s photographic practice, following the habits of those he pictured making spontaneous use of areas of wasteland, located itself on the margins of the transformations affecting Barcelona as a result of the 1992 Olympic Games, which turned the city into a standard bearer for the service sector economy.

[...] With Concrete Geographies, 2003–2009, the anthropological view of the metropolitan space shifts closer to the approaches of archaeology. The concept of memory leads to a set of explorations around the marks left by institutional and private strategies on the territory. Ribas returns to the notion of the threshold previously raised in the various series of Sanctuary (1998-2002), but this time not so much in its spatial sense, but to address the temporal dimension of any place. This approaching of the past and future of places is materialised visually by using the grid format as a critical strategy for dealing with the processes of exclusion, exploitation and appropriation to which these sites have been subject.

With his work prior to 2009, Ribas earned a reputation as a photographer committed to the geographies of abandonment: areas to be found emerging on the outskirts, borders of all types and conditions, and points of temporary settlement where human presence is subject to the politics of expulsion. Over the years the career of this artist has evolved toward an increasingly austere and sober use of photography, evoking the prolonged influence of a contemporary landscape enthroned by the New Topographics. Although his style has changed relatively little over time, his practice has been able to accommodate the complexity arising from the knowledges, materials and languages that make of photography a support for the documentary dispositive.

© Carles Guerra, MACBA, 2014

Invisible Structures 1 (2006)

Ceuta and Melilla Border Fences (2009)

Invisible Structures 1 and 2 (2006)

Invisible Structures 2 (2006)

Nomads (2008)

2761 A.V.C (2008)

Greenhouse (2008)

La Relève (2008)

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona [MACBA], June 2014. Installation photographs: Marc Roig and Xavier Ribas