THE METROPOLITAN BARCELONA OF ANNA OSWALDO CRUZ
The photographer Anna Oswaldo Cruz portrays Barcelona in an unusual way. She obviously follows Walter Benjamin's precept: for getting to know a city, walk along its outskirts and enter it through its outer limits. Thus she photographs places like the city's Zona Franca, suburbia like Santa Coloma de Gramenet or Sant Andreu, and the Gavà fluvial drains. She enters into the tradition of Flora Tristán, who in the middle of the 19th century went through English and French cities visiting industrial plants and slum areas. Anna Oswaldo Cruz recreates the driftings of the Situationists or those from the Stalker Group, taking us along gyration platforms, as in certain aspects of the Avenida Meridiana, which have been dealt with theoretically by the London school of psychogeography. Her visions come close to those analysed by theoreticians of contemporary urbanism such as Mike Davis and Dolores Hayden, registering the reality of the great cities and their nearby territories. In her work there is something which can be found in Wasting Away - An Exploration of Waste (Random House, 1991), a certain post-apocalyptical taste, reflecting the state of abandon of these public spaces.
In the photographs by Anna Oswaldo Cruz such abandoned, anonymous places, hidden behind fences, or industrial plants and publicity posters, are turned into characters. The urban scale itself becomes the protagonist. Of human action remains its palimpsests, its absences, its abandon, its footsteps, there where the city loses its name and emptiness appears.
There are some memorable images, for instance the wall in the Llobregat's delta, fencing the cultivated fields, which appears as a real art gallery with its graffiti.
It is the presence of these forgotten surroundings which forces us to think about these non-places as the centre of any territory. For what is centre and what is periphery today? The camera of Oswaldo Cruz works to decentralise us, forcing us to relocate ourselves in our more immediate world. It is from within these anonymous sceneries, where the soil reflects itself on strange skies, that the urban emptiness is revealed as the soul of the territory.
Josep Maria Montaner