In every pursuit of a passion, there’s a moment that affirms that you’ve made it. It’s that big break where you’re recognized for your hard work and dedication to your craft. In regards to travel photography, my moment came when the fine folks at the Dark Arts Collective in Philadelphia asked me to hang my work at their inaugural show this past Fall.
“Adverse Possession” is the United States’ fancy term for squatters’ rights — a heavily debated law that says that any abandoned property occupied by a squatter for a certain amount of time makes it the property of the squatter. Through my travels, I’ve found that iterations of this law exist in many countries and are capitalized on by artists collectives, anarchists and drug lords who live outside of what their country considers the “norm”.
I started the project in 2014, and ever since then meeting the people who live in these places and learning about how those communities came to be has become one of the most fascinating aspects of my travels.
The first of this series is “Okupa Y Resiste”. Enjoy!
Okupa Y Resiste is situated at the foot of Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain), just below Park Güell, one of Spain’s top tourist attractions in Barcelona. Though many believe the community began out of solidarity for the Occupy Movement, the ideas of anarchism, squatting, and resisting the government are deep rooted in Catalan history.
The construction of Park Güell began in the early 1900’s when developer Count Eusebi Güell teamed up with Catalan artist, Antoni Gaudí, to design La Salut (The Health), a gated housing community that was intended for a upperclass citizens of Barcelona. The community was to be an escape from the smog produced by factories in the valley below, and would separate the classes, physically moving the wealthy to the mountains above the poorer, working class.
But the community was never completed. By 1910, radical demonstrations, factory strikes, the rise of anarchism and the CNT-FAI, mobilization of civilians, and a series of assassinations in Barcelona halted construction of La Salut indefinitely.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Salut, now known as Park Güell, welcomes 9 million visitors per year who all have to pass Okupa Y Resiste and reads its message before entering the park: “We know your capitalist paradise. We look for the Hell of Freedom. No Peace — Fuck the Police”.