Almeria, Spain’s desert landscape made it a popular site for film shoots in the 60s and 70s. The city gave films like Lawrence of Arabia and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns their gorgeous, desolate atmosphere. Today, many of the movie sets still stand, albeit in various states of neglect.
DC artist Mark Parascandola, who has a family connection to Almeria, created a photo series of the city, documenting the movie sets and backdrops as they exist today, largely in ruins. The series also includes several images of newer constructions that have sprung up with Almeria’s major building boom during the past 10 years. Many of these buildings, including hotels and residential enclaves, have also been abandoned.
The color qualities and scale of Parascandola’s images suggest the cinematic context for which many of the structures were originally built. Indeed, the photographs could almost pass for movie stills. But the surface intensity of the images conjures a subtle narrative of Almeria’s boom-and-bust economic cycles.
“I am hoping to prompt people to wonder a little bit about why these buildings were abandoned,” Parascandola explains in an interview with Pink Line Project. “We’ve all become accustomed to seeing images of empty buildings and foreclosed homes on the news. So perhaps viewers will make connections between the content of my photographic work and their own related experiences and stories closer to home.”
Parascandola was a 2011 Sondheim Prize finalist. Fourteen of his photographs of Almeria are on exhibition at the BMA until August 7.
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