The Plaça Reial Friends and Traders Association – ‘La Reial’ – is turning 20, and it is marking this anniversary with ‘Line of Flight’, an exhibition that tells the stories of 10 people who arrived in Barcelona fleeing from wars or other conflicts in their own countries. It is a different look at the usual images of refugees that we often see, particularly in the media and the internet.
‘Line of Flight’ is a project by Oak Stories, the Setba Foundation and the Plaça Reial Friends and Traders Association with the support of Barcelona City Council’s Councillor’s Office for Trade. The exhibition, which is being held in Plaça Reial, will be open until 24 March. Symbolically, it also marks the start of the many activities to be held by the Association in 2019 in connection with its 20th anniversary.
Trade and public spaces are key to social cohesion, a fact highlighted by Councillor for Tourism, Trade and Markets, Agustí Colom, in his opening ceremony speech: ‘Trade is culture; it is creativity and transformation. Trade plays an active role in the construction of the model of the city and promotes the social cohesion that brings together the wishes of all the people who live in the city and participate in its community’.
The Councillor also stated that the exhibition has the added value of not only dealing with culture but also ‘speaking for those others who have had to flee their own homes, warning us and telling us how to act in this situation, and who have arrived in Barcelona, traditionally a welcoming city’.
Muntsa Vilalta, the Generalitat’s Director of Trade, recalled that the Plaça Reial Traders Association is the one with the highest number of members in Catalonia, and she referred to the exhibition to emphasise how ‘our world is a place of hybridisation between cultures and activities’.
Plaça Reial as a ‘point of flight’
‘Line of flight’ is a photography project that relates immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Barcelona and puts them into context. And it does so by telling the story of 10 newcomers living in Barcelona. The visit can continue on the website of the project, which contains information about what they go through in connection with their applications for protection and asylum.
The name of the exhibition is a reference to the mindset and work of the traders’ association, which has positioned Plaça Reial as a true ‘point of flight’, an iconic place where an infinite number of realities coincide and succeed each other at the same time.
More than 150 activities throughout 2019
The organisation holds over 150 educational, cultural, musical, sport, food and children’s activities for all audiences in the square every year. The activities planned for 2019 include the ‘OFF Maria Canals Piano Marathon’, ‘The Rite of Spring’, the ceremony for giving the ‘Plaça Reial Friends’ award to the writer Carlos Zanon, who has taken over Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s character ‘Pepe Carvalho’ in his new work ‘Problemes d’Identitat‘, the screenings of the films ‘Tarantos‘ by Francesc Rovira Beleta and ‘Ocaña retrat intermitent‘ by Ventura Pons, and the presentation of Xavier Theros’ book ‘Vida i miracles de la plaça Reial‘, among others.