“Working with locals” , by Elif Gülen

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Making Neighborhood Project – Mobilities

2 October – 7 November 2017

Elif Gülen

My long-term project is based on urban history and I wish to do a visual map of European Union cities about people who have lived all their lives in one house. I wish to create a ‘Locals Map of the EU’. In this age of migration and mobility, it has become increasingly difficult to find people who have resided in one living space for a lifetime. So far I have interviewed individuals in Istanbul, Paris and Budapest. Thus it was a great pleasure to do Gracia in Barcelona as a part of this ongoing project.
The project I presented at Jiwar in Barcelona for the Making Neighborhood Project was about finding local people who have lived their whole lives in one neighborhood. I wanted to show the changes in the neighborhood through the locals’ memories and their houses. Their personal histories were going to be a reflection of what the cultural essence of the neighborhood is, what drives them to accept outsiders in their environment and what changes have occurred through their eyes. I wanted to show how they witnessed changes in the neighborhood. It was a big challenge to find people who would both fit our criteria and also accept opening up to us to share their own stories.
During my five weeks in Jiwar not only did I exceed my project goals but I also came to admire the people I interviewed because they were so helpful and accepting. The locals’ willingness to cooperate and a wonderful team enhanced the success of this project.
In total we interviewed six people.
We first started with Mr. Joan Duenas, then with Mrs. Maria del Mar Andreu. After that came Mrs. Antonia Viladrich, Mr. Joan Mullor Lena and Mr. Josep Mullor Lena, brothers, Mrs. P. Farreny and last, but not least, Mrs. Mercè Torrent.
In all the interviews, we visited the locals in their homes so that they could talk about their houses, the streets they live in, the changes they had witnessed over time and the historical events that overlap with their personal lives. Some photos from their photo albums also showed us how the neighborhood had previously been and how their own lives were intertwined with the houses they lived in.
The picture of Gracia Barcelona is so clear now for me. The historical milestones of the country are embedded in each and every person we interviewed. Their memories painted a picture of a neighborhood that was warm and supporting especially in hard times.
I fell in love with the Gracia locals I interviewed. They are our last witnesses of an ever-changing city, Barcelona.

 

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