Gothenburg & El Bruc (2008 – 2009)

De segunda mano – Second hand

De segunda mano, was the given name to a solo show/installation that was produced as result of the first and second chapter of the Recycled Beings project. At that stage the project was mainly focused in generating a conversation among immigrants who have had to leave their home countries to adoptive societies because of not finding other options of survival or development.

The first stage started in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2009 with the collaboration of Haky Albustan from what it was by then BOB Gallery in Bergsjön (neighborhood with a high population of immigrants). I started collecting video testimonials of people from former Yugoslavia, Iran, Finland and Syria; asking them about: how was the situation in their home countries before leaving to Sweden? and which were the main difficulties they found within integration and adaptation matters along the process.

By the end of 2009 and invited by Can Serrat – International Art Center in Barcelona, Spain, I took the process to its second stage, having as research field the district of El Bruc in Barcelona. This time the problematics surrounding immigration and adaptation issues were much more complex as I found that most of the people who have migrated to Barcelona have been automatically classified in levels within levels. Having the region of Cataluña, a strong independency trauma because of the civil war during the Franco’s tyranny, it exists until now, an unconscious segregation towards everything new, different or unknown. I perceived that this rejection towards an unknown being trying to fit in a new and unfamiliar place could be an automatic and even a self-defence respond because of certain fear to lose or share more cultural territory perhaps.

Oscar Lara, De segunda mano, video installation, 2009

In the report of the SOS Racismo (NGO that works against racism in several countries of Europe) – Racismo en Cataluña (racism in Cataluña) of 2009, quote the statistics made by the Centro de Estudios de Opinion de la Generalidad (Opinion Studies Centre of the Generalitat), showing that half of the Catalan population in Cataluña consider ‘excessive’ the number of immigrants who are living now days in Cataluña: a 25% would try to avoid renting out an apartment to immigrants; a 21% would reject it without doubts; and two thirds of the population consider that ‘immigration takes away working positions from Catalan people’.

The way I have develop the project has always been with a neutral approach trying to get familiar with the new place that is hosting me as a temporary immigrant and with that getting to perceive the new environment from a very neutral platform. In Spain was very frustrating the fear and contra fear confrontation that seems to be in terms of speaking up immigration subjects. On one hand I was feeling the nationalistic Catalan spirit so full of expectations towards a so wanted independency, but on the other side was the unexpected fear from the minorities who have immigrated to Spain and have managed to get their feet into Catalan society. I realized that this fear was very similar to the self-defence mindset so inbuilt in the Catalan’s people sentiment but the difference I could formulate to this was that for the minorities was about survival and for the Catalans was about preserving and ratifying an identity.

By the end of my time in Can Serrat artist in residency we produced the De Segunda Mano (Second Hand) exhibition. The exhibit was formed around video projections from the testimonials taken in Sweden and Spain and there is a video documentation of this work with the same name and a fragment of that is linked to this site.