London gallery pays tribute to Barcelona's Sala Beckett theater
Experimental theater named for the Irish playwright is the focus of an exhibit on the renovation of the former workers cooperative in the Poblenou neighbourhood
Samuel Beckett was an Irish writer who lived in Paris and who often wrote in French, yet considered one of the last modernist writers, it is no surprise that his unconventional, tragicomic style should strike a chord in a city with Barcelona's artistic sensibilities.
With a museum devoted to former resident Pablo Picasso, the foundation on Montjüic paying tribute to the work of Joan Miró, and the outlandish legacy of architect Antoni Gaudí visible on its streets, it is fitting that the Catalan capital should also honor a playwright like Beckett.
Established 30 years ago, today's Sala Beckett opened its doors in 2016 in what had been a workers cooperative in the city's former industrial area of Poblenou. Now, the theater restored by the Flores & Prats architects is itself the subject of an exhibition in London.
What Where, the title of Beckett's final play, is also the name of the exhibition, which uses the architects' models and drawings to explore the intentions behind the design that converted the Pau i Justícia building into one of Barcelona's main experimental theaters.
"What Where will look at the set of circumstances that has made it possible for the work of an Irish playwright to influence the design of an experimental theatre in Barcelona," organizers say.
A new creative space in the Catalan capital
In the same way that Beckett's work appealed to how we perceive the everyday in order to grasp the essence of the human condition, What Where shows how Flores & Prats saw beyond a decaying building to envision a new creative space for the Catalan capital.
The exhibition in the Roca Gallery comes to London after featuring in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. At the heart of the exhibit are the models the architects produced in coming up with their design, as well as their inventories and drawings.
Beckett's work also features, of course, in the form of multilingual scripts of his plays and his one and only film, called appropriately for a master of the absurd, Film, which he made in 1965 with slapstick American actor Buster Keaton in one of his final screen roles.