A recently launched documentary shows how a couple of artists is changing the landscape of the dying rural ‘pueblos’ in Spain
After many years living in the city, Alfonso and Lucía were tired of the busy, dirty streets, the noise and the lack of connection that define virtually any metropolis in the world. Like all artists, they needed inspiration and space to create – also like most artists, they didn’t have much financial means. Then, Lucía has discovered herself pregnant and that changed everything. After little Greta was born, the couple moved to Torralba de Ribota, a 100 inhabitants’ town in Aragon, Spain and went to live in an old house that belonged to Lucía’s grandmother.
“How many of us have a country side heritage?”, asks the recently launched documentary “Soñando un Lugar” (In English, Dreaming of a Place), presented this week to a selected audience in CCCB, in Barcelona. Through the 7-year filming and editing process, Alfonso has realized he was telling a bigger story than his family’s: the one of the dying pueblos, small rural Spanish towns that are almost deserted.
Fields are not worked anymore, as the young people moved on to more “reputable” jobs in the city. The dry earth is shown as a scar of old times, when the land provided all the food: potatoes, beans, nuts. Some of the remainders still breed bees and goats, but they are few. There are not enough hands anymore.
Full of empty houses and kept alive by the old neighbours’ memories, Torralba de Ribota had no children, though no future. The arrival of the small family started to shake things up – as Alfonso filmed the documentary, Lucía was creating an innovative project that aimed to transform the ancient pueblos in stages for artistic residencies and projects, while little Greta built her own fantasy world among hills, art and meaningful conversations with the elders. After them, many others came: musicians, performers, painters started to search for houses in the town. One of the biggest challenges was to find houses to buy: telephones didn’t work anymore, people were not reachable. Most buildings were kept closed and empty. Many of them remain so.
As the project “Pueblos en Arte” flourished, the life of the town has changed – connections between old and new started to be made, artists had space and time to create, children had access to nature and played ‘like the old times’. More towns were added to the project, that now has 6 ongoing projects, a patronage funding plan and high hopes for the future. “We want to start a dialogue between city and town”, said Alfonso, who’s now touring though Spain to promote his film.
Horyou, the social network for social good, promotes artistic projects with social impact related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The documentary “Soñando un Lugar” helps communities and cities to become more sustainable and self-sufficient (Goal 11).