February 4, 2012 - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) - Barcelona International Center of Photography
February 4, 2012

Barcelona International Center of Photography

Lucho Poirot’s workshop at CIFB, c. 1979. Eduard Olivella Collection.

Centre Internacional de Fotografia Barcelona (1978–1983)
[Barcelona International Center of Photography, 1978–83]
27 Jan–20 May 2012

Plaça dels Àngels, 1
08001 Barcelona



Curated by Jorge Ribalta and Cristina Zelich

Works by Enric Aguilera, Miquel Arnal, Jesús Atienza, Anna Boyé, Lluís Casals, Pep Cunties, Manel Esclusa, Extra! (Sergi Capellas, Jordi García and Xavier Rosselló), Ferran Freixa, Manolo Laguillo, Esteve Lucerón, Xavier Martí Alavedra, Eduard Olivella, Lucho Poirot, Jordi Pol, Humberto Rivas, Jordi Sarrà, Eduardo Subías, Josep Tobella and Mariano Zuzunaga.

The Centre Internacional de Fotografia Barcelona (CIFB) constitutes a failed experiment in the institutionalisation of photographic culture during the Spanish Transition. This exhibition is a contribution to an archaeology of contemporary photographic culture in Spain.

The CIFB opened in October 1978, following the model of New York’s ICP. It was an advanced photography school directed by Albert Guspi (1943–1985), former photo-reporter in the 1960s and founder of the first commercial photo-art gallery in Spain, the Spectrum gallery, opened in Barcelona in 1973. The gallery programme was international and combined contemporary and historical work.

In 1978, Guspi rented a factory building in the Barri Xino in Barcelona and opened the CIFB, using the team of the previous photography workshop as faculty and organisational unit. The team of post-Pop figurative painters Arranz-Bravo and Bartolozzi were invited to paint a huge mural covering the whole building façade with a selection of portraits of the great authors of the history of photography, organised chronologically.

The CIFB was in the documentary tradition of the 1930s photojournalistic culture, following Cornell Capa and ICP’s ‘concerned photography’ approach, even if the faculty was a combination of photo-documentarians and creative photographers. Those distinctions between documentary and creative photography seemed not to be institutionalised at that time, which means a conviviality of practices that today often remain separate.

The CIFB presented exhibitions of Agustí Centelles, August Sander, Heinrich Zille, Felix H. Man, Aaron Siskind, Philip Trager, Milton Rogovin, Gabriel Cualladó, Enric Aguilera and others. It also organised public evening talks and screenings weekly, in which the most significant local photographers participated and some visiting artists as well, such as Aaron Siskind.

The 1970s were a period of structural transformation in the institutions of photographic culture internationally. New York’s ICP was also a product of the 1970s transformation, as were the Rencontres d’Arles and the Centre National de la Photographie in France; indeed, a multiplicity of institutions, university programmes, festivals, galleries, etc., simultaneously appeared worldwide at the time. This CIFB project is a micro-study of the specific local Barcelona conditions of the much larger macropolitical transformation of culture industries and policies taking place in the West at that time.

The exhibition
The selection of works in the exhibition aims to give visibility to the Barcelona documentary project constituting the core of the CIFB’s activity, peaking in 1979 to 1981. The idea was to produce a collective photo survey of the everyday vernacular life in the city, in a period that was defined by the immediate post-Franco urban decay. The city was in a transitional and still undefined moment, when reconstruction of democratic institutions was just starting.

The exhibition includes vintage prints and slide projections and is organised in three areas. The first focuses on representations of the working and lower class areas and communities, such as the historic red light district—where the CIFB was—and its surroundings, the port, the La Perona gipsy shanty-town, the slaughterhouse, etc.

The second is a monographic slide projection (2 synchronised Kodak carrousel projectors, 160 slides, piano recording soundtrack) of a documentary made by 3 of the CIFB photographers (Jesús Atienza, Pep Cunties and Eduardo Subías) in an old mental hospital in 1980.

The third and last area focuses on imagery produced from carnavalesque subcultures, which point to the emergence of new social behaviours and practices, from late-Franco resistance counter-cultural spaces to the new democratic public sphere conditions.

Weekdays, 11am–7.30pm
Saturdays, 10am–8pm
Sundays and public holidays, 10am–3pm
Closed Tuesdays (except public holidays)
Open Mondays


Wednesday 22 February, at 6 pm
Special tour with commentary by Jorge Ribalta
Included in the Museum’s admission ticket
Museum galleries. Limited places.

Monday 12 March, at 7.30 pm
Round table: Historicising the Seventies
With Enric Mira, Marie-Loup Sougez and Carmelo Vega
Moderated by Jorge Ribalta and Cristina Zelich
MACBA Auditorium. Free admission. Limited seating.

Daily guided tours
(included in the admission fee)

Centre Internacional de Fotografia Barcelona (1978–1983). Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), 2012. Text by Jorge Ribalta and Cristina Zelich and interviews to the participants of the CIFB. Catalan/Spanish edition.

Further information www.macba.cat and Twitter.

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
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