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IN PICS: The 10 best exhibitions at PHotoEspaña 2018

In honour of its 20th anniversary, Madrids international festival of photography and visual arts, PH..



In honour of its 20th anniversary, Madrids international festival of photography and visual arts, PHotoEspaña, has curated 100 exhibitions which comprise the work of 514 artists spread out over 62 venues.

The exhibitions assemble photographs from May until September by both internationally renowned artists and homegrown Spanish favourites, from collections by the legendary Magnum agency to the first photographic outing of Spains leading film director Pedro Almodóvar. Here are The Locals picks:

Pedro Almodóvar – Vida Detenida, Marlborough Gallery. June 7th-September 8th

A still life from Pedro Almodóvar's exhibition. Credit: Marlborough Gallery.

While working on the script for his upcoming film Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory), Spanish cinema legend Pedro Almodóvar began to take still life photographs around his house to entertain himself during breaks. Almodóvar describes the resulting work, which brings together 30 intimate images of household objects such as dishes, flowers and food, as being “born out of moments of solitude and stillness.” They will be exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery from June 7th until September 8th.

Magnum Photographers Come out to Play, Espacio Fundación Telefónica. May 9th-September 16th

A Carolyn Drake photograph from the Magnum collection. Credit: PHotoEspaña

In this exhibition, over 20 photographers from the iconic Magnum agency present works that aim to show the often highbrow collective in a more “relaxed” mode, unburdened by the expectation of “having to engrave in stone universal truths in each shot”. Players presents 150 photographs linked by the theme of play.

The Greatest Show on Earth, Centro Cultural de la Villa. June 6th-July 29th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

The Greatest Show on Earth collects images from the Archive of Modern Conflict that display the weird and wonderful world of circus life during its early 20th century golden era, brought together to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the modern circus.

Carmen Calvo – Repose and Dizziness, Cerralbo Museum. June 8th-September 16th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Valencian artist and Winner of the National Visual Arts Award Carmen Calvo repurposes family photos from the mid-twentieth century found in markets, modifying the forgotten images to lend them new meanings in work in which “feminism and social, moral and religious critique all interlace”.

Carlos Cánovas – In Time, ICO Museum. May 30th-September 9th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

This retrospective of the work of lauded Spanish photographer Carlos Cánovas collates work from the 1980s to the present day, which form a “record of urban transformation” with a focus on landscapes “where nature and human intervention converge”.

Cecil Beaton: Myths of the 20th Century, Canal de Isabel II Foundation. May 31st-August 19th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Portrait photographer to the Winsdors and Vogue magazine and two time Academy Award winner for Best Costume, revered British lensman Cecil Beaton is celebrated in this retrospective which gathers some of his finest work from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The Soviet Century: Russian Photography from the Lafuente Archive, Circulo de Bellas Artes. June 6th-September 16th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Alberto Ruiz de Samaniego curates over 800 images that document the social and political evolution of Russia during the 20th century, gathering not only photographs but other artefacts such as postcards and negatives that reveal details of life during the rise of the Soviet regime.

Discovering Luis Masson, Museo Lázaro Galdiano. June 6th-August 26th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

This extraordinary exhibition recovers the until now undiscovered work of French photographer Luis Masson, which forms a topography of various Spanish cities and regions in the mid-nineteenth century. The images document the nation from Andalusia to Madrid to the Basque Country during the earliest stages of photography.

Moda! Spanish fashion through photography, Museo del Traje. June 14th-September 23rd

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Photographs from international publications such as Vogue, Elle and Harpers Bazaar are brought together to honour Spanish fashion of various periods and styles during the last hundred years.

s.m.a.r.t Paths Towards Sustainability, Real Jardín Botánico. June 7th-August 26th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

The theme that links this exhibition, which gathers the work of eight different photographers, is the damage inflicted on the environment by human activity and the possibility of achieving sustainability. It aims to encourage the five concepts the acronym of the title refers to: Sustainability, Mitigation, Adaptation, Resilience and Transformation.

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Sitges Mayor among others arrested in police investigation of alleged corruption



Aurora Carbonell, the mayor of Sitges and from the ERC party, has been arrested in connection with an alleged corruption investigation, that has also implicated 12 other people, including eight local councillors from the period 2017-2022.

At least four people have been arrested as part of the case, including the local ERC councillor Jaume Monasterio, who was responsible for public works in the last legislature.

The group are being investigated for the crimes of misuse of public funds, embezzlement, and falsification of documents in the awarding of grants and minor contracts in the previous two mandates.

The Spanish National Police and officers of their Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF) carried out several searches on Wednesday morning in Sitges, including municipal offices and the homes of two people. The investigation is focused into the process of subsidies granted by the Sitges Town Council to the social entity ‘Taula del Tercer Sector’ (Third Sector Board) and another local co-operative. The police seized documents relating to the entities under investigation.

According to local sources, the police would be investigating, among other elements, if the entity was paid twice for the same service, or received a subsidy and a minor contract, for example.

According to El Pais, police sources have said that the investigation affects the local departments of Beaches and Social Welfare. The police are analysing various specific grants, some of €45,000, €100,000 and €120,000, among others, which may have allegedly gone to the entities under suspicion. According to reports, the total sum under investigation is €600,000.

The starting point of the case stems from a police report detailing the alleged irregularities in May 2022, discovered by the council’s own inspectors.

Carbonell, who was recently re-elected as mayor, has been mayor of Sitges since 2019. The court has ordered for Carbonell and eight councillors to be investigated, in addition to four others who were part of one of the entities and cooperatves also under investigation. The period of alleged corruption is over four years, and also affects the government team prior to Carbonell, according to reports, under the leadership of Miquel Forns (CiU).

The Sitges Town Council has since issued a statement to say that the investigation is connected to ‘external irregularities’ and that it denies any type of wrongdoing.

‘The facts under investigation had already been analysed internally,’ the statement read. ‘The Town Council, once possible external irregularities were detected, commissioned legal professionals to clarify the facts, stopping the subsidies, reviewing the files and starting the process for the return of the subsidies that were not fully justified. The Council has reports that ensure the absence of administrative and even less criminal responsibilities, and which demonstrate the diligence of the Sitges Town Council.’

The statement went on to say that the council ‘is a transparent institution, which has a rigorous code of ethics that ensures the highest standards of integrity’.

It said that it would be making itself ‘available to the authorities in order to show our full collaboration in whatever is necessary’ and ‘reiterates our willingness to cooperate with justice at all times’.


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Spain’s far-right Vox seek to make gains in 28 May local and regional elections



Spain’s third largest political group in the national parliament, the far-right Vox party, is looking to make gains in the local and regional elections due to be held across the country on 28 May.

Since it entered a regional government for the first time in Castilla y León last year, Vox has attacked the unions and pushed polarising positions on social issues, including abortion and transgender rights.

It is now poised to spread its influence beyond the sparsely populated region near Madrid, with the party hoping to make gains in the elections at the end of May.

Surveys suggest the main opposition, the right-wing People’s Party (PP), could need the support of Vox to govern in half of the 12 regions casting ballots, just as it did in Castilla y León last year.

Polls also indicate the PP is on track to win a year-end general election but would need Vox to form a working majority and oust socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition government from office.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal [pictured at a recent rally in Chinchón, near Madrid] has called the PP-VOX coalition government in office in Castilla y León since March 2022 a ‘showroom’ and ‘an example of the alternative Spain needs’.

It is Spain’s first government to include a far-right party since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

In Castilla y León, Vox has slashed funding to unions, which the party has vowed to ‘put in their place’ if it comes to power nationally. Trade union UGT was forced to lay off 40% of its staff in Castilla y León last month and scale back programmes to promote workspace safety. Spain’s other main union, the CCOO, is reportedly preparing to follow suit.

Vox has also angered LGBTQ groups by refusing to allow the regional parliament to be lit up in the colours of the rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement, for Pride festivities as in past years when the PP governed alone.

In addition, the regional vice-president, Vox’s Juan García-Gallardo, has railed against a law passed by Spain’s leftist central government that extends transgender rights.

The 32-year-old lawyer warned earlier this month that women would now be ‘forced to share locker rooms with hairy men at municipal swimming pools’.

Vox’s most contested initiative was a proposal that doctors offer women seeking an abortion a 4D ultrasound scan to try to discourage them from going ahead with the procedure.

The idea was swiftly condemned by Spain’s leftist central government, and Castilla y León’s PP president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco stopped the measure from going ahead.

The issue highlighted the hazards for the PP of joining forces with Vox, which was launched in 2013 and is now the third-largest party in the national parliament.


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Spain – Gas falls below 90 euros per MWh for the first time in almost two months



The price of TTF natural gas for delivery next month has fallen below 90 euros on Friday for the first time in almost two months and closes a week marked by the decision of the European Commission to cap gas with a drop of 29, 36%.
According to data from the Bloomberg platform, gas closed this Friday at 83 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), 8.9% less than the day before and the first time it has lost 90 euros since last October 31.
After months of negotiations, the EU agreed on Monday to set a cap of 180 euros on contracts linked to the Amsterdam TTF index with a price difference of at least 35 euros above the average price of liquefied natural gas in the markets.

EU countries agree on a cap of 180 euros for gas with the support of Germany
In a report this week, the Swiss investment bank Julius Baer indicated that the chances of the mechanism being activated are low and pointed out that the chosen formula was not very effective in avoiding the multiplier effect that gas has on the price of electricity. However, he reiterated what was said in other previous reports: “Energy supply risks are minimal and prices should continue to decline in the future” due to the availability of raw materials from Asia to offset cuts from Russia.

Gas tends to fall during the hot months due to lower demand, but this summer it has reached historic heights as European countries were buying to face the winter with their tanks full and reduce their dependence on Russia. The price fell in September and October due to lower demand once the warehouses were full due to the high temperatures at the beginning of autumn, but in November it picked up again and 66% more expensive.

This article was originally published on Público

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