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‘Gentrificar’ is the verb ‘to gentrify’ in Spanish. In essence, to rob a place of its soul and roots and sell it as a commodity.
There are few things as sad to see as a place you love, a place you grew up in, being destroyed slowly by the action of people whose only interest is to enrich themselves by making others poor.
In Madrid, where this picture was taken, gentrification has taken its toll since it began back in the 1980s. At first, slow and small, now, trying to convert the city into a gigantic Airbnb leaving many of its original inhabitants unable to pay the ever-rising rents.
The market in the image is an enormous contrast to the four massive skyscrapers that stand behind it, two of which can be seen in the frame. In reality, the scene is even more contrasting. As I walked by the streets of this quiet 1950s residential area, originally built for workers and their families, only the sounds of a small pre-school garden could be heard with barely any cars roaming the streets. In the market, just a few businesses were left open. A café inside with some residents chatting away. The daunting presence of the skyscrapers in the background, looming over the market, built for no apparent reason right before the collapse of the housing bubble 10 years ago.
As gentrification continues, it’s possible this market may not be there for much longer. Massive redevelopment plans for this area of Madrid, named “Operación Chamartín”, are in place. Trying to build massive numbers of houses and new businesses, while hints of political corruption surrounding the plans have already surfaced.
I don’t know whether the market will simply be another victim to gentrification or a rare example of a survivor. For now it will be a live representation of a capitalist fight that continues every day.
Diego Leon Bethencourt (b. 1999 Madrid, Spain) is a Spanish Photographer and Microbiology student based in Cork, Ireland. Diego's work often explores feelings of nostalgia and reflections of his traditional Spanish upbringing. Diego is also the photography curator for Disobedient.
Instagram: @diegoakatdl / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thediegoleon