Any of our readers who have recently visited Barcelona may have noticed the city’s burgeoning tourist industry: indeed, much of the Ramblas is now a no-go area for ordinary people, and the traditional fishing community in the seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta is slowly but surely being priced out of the housing market thanks to the boom in seafront holiday apartments. We caught up with photographer Marc Javierre, whose work takes a critical look at Barcelona’s transformation from Mediterranean port city to tourist destination par excellence. His witty photos take in the stag dos, the shirtless Brits and the army of locals who have transformed the city’s fortunes and quadrupled the number of visitors in just two decades to 8 million annually.
And Javierre’s opinion on the changes of recent years? Barcelona has been turned into ‘a giant theme park, with no regard for the consequences‘. As he so eloquently stated in documentary Bye, Bye Barcelona: “One day I sat down with a journalist friend and we asked ourselves: what is happening right now in Barcelona? What is the most important thing that is going on? The answer was mass tourism.”
The phenomenon of mass tourism, according to Javierre, is a result of ‘the process of worldwide economic globalisation, an untamed capitalism in which money can buy anything. The Barcelona, and Catalan, bourgeoisie have decided to make as much money as possible by bringing as many people to Catalonia as possible, thanks to the brand of ‘Barcelona’. [There is] no regard for the negative consequences, and the whole thing is based solely on supply, demand and profit.’
With a new book (Lloret Paradise) about to come out, Javierre cites many references – including Cartier-Bresson, Martin Parr, Sebastiao Salgado and Joan Colom – although states that much of his more recent work has been the fruit of good old-fashioned ‘observation, of what is going on in the world around me.’