Art and Tourism Imaginaries IV

The Tourist City. Utopia and Dystopia

Monday, 27 June 2022 - 5pm

Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior ticket collection at the Museo Ticket Offices or on the Museo Reina Sofía website from 10am on 23 June. A maximum of 2 per person.

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200
200 people
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía and the inter-university research group TURICOM. The Tourist Experience: Image, Body and Death in the Culture of Leisure
Fernando Higueras, Partial Urban Development Plan. Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, 1963
Fernando Higueras, Partial Urban Development Plan. Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, 1963

This day of lectures and encounters, the fourth instalment of the series organised by the inter-university group TURICOM — which is part of the project Paradoxical Modernity: Artistic and Tourist Experience in Developmentalist Spain (1959–1975), PGC2018-093422-B-I00 (MCI/AEI/FEDER, UE) — endeavours to examine the relationship between tourist imaginaries and the visual arts from the 1960s onwards. By virtue of a selection of brief lectures and a final conversation, followed by a debate, it looks to reflect on mass tourism and the way in which, as the industry of experience, it is connected to the search for a lived experience that has shaped contemporary art.

In this latest edition, the idea of the tourist city as a utopia/dystopia is explored in relation to the concept of “architecture of pleasure” developed by Henri Lefebvre in his book Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment. In 1973, the French philosopher and urban planner was inspired by the work Mario Gaviria, his pupil, carried out in Benidorm. The initial title was also Gaviria’s suggestion, stemming from his view of Benidorm as a model for the future. Yet Lefebvre preferred not to speak of “pleasure” as such but jouissance, a hard-to-translate term that denotes enjoyment both beyond pleasure and also against it.

What desires did tourist cities have to arouse in their permanent or temporary residents? What were the architecture of pleasure promises and what pain did they open the way for? What dystopias have we inherited from the tourist utopias of the 1960s? These are the questions that anchor the session.


Eugenia Afinoguénova is a professor of Spanish Literature and Cultural History at Marquette University in Milwaukee (USA). Her most recent publication is El Prado: la cultura y el ocio (1819-1939) (Cátedra, 2019), and she has also co-edited a number of anthologies, including Spain Is (Still) Different: Tourism and Discourse in Spanish Identity (Lexington Books, 2008, with Jaume Martí-Olivella) and the forthcoming The Edinburgh Companion to the Spanish Civil War and Visual Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2023, with Silvina Schammah Gesser and Robert Lubar Messeri). Moreover, she has contributed to multiple anthologies focused on themes around the tourism imaginary, film and, more recently, environmental studies.

Cristina Arribas is an architect and urban planner in Badalona City Council and a professor in the Department of Theory and History at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona (ETSAB). Her most recent publications most notably include “El nuevo paisaje turístico español a través de las tarjetas postales de los años 60” in Sobre, No. 5 (2018) and “La puesta en escena del paisaje turístico español en el boom desarrollista” in La ciudad en el cine (Asimétricas, 2022).

Jordi Costa has been the head of the Exhibitions Department at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) since 2019. He is the author of books such as Todd Solondz. En los suburbios de la felicidad (Ocho y Medio, 2005) and Cómo acabar con la Contracultura. Una historia subterránea de España (Taurus, 2018). He has also co-curated exhibitions such as Plagiarism (La Casa Encendida, 2005–2006) and The Mask Never Lies (CCCB, 2021–2022).  

José Díaz Cuyás is a professor of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the University of La Laguna. With Carmen Pardo and Esteban Pujals, he curated The Pamplona Encounters 1972: The End of the Party for Experimental Art (Museo Reina Sofía, 2009–2010). His most recent publications notably include his coordination of issue 10 (on art and tourism) of Concreta magazine, and “Movilizados por lo real: turistas, soldados, artistas” (on Marcel Broodthaers), in Arquitectura: lenguajes fílmicos (2009-2016) (Tabakalera, 2018).

Ramón Vicente Díaz del Campo Martín-Mantero is an art historian and professor of Contemporary Spanish Art and Exhibition Curatorship at the University of Castilla-La Mancha. His main works revolve around architect Miguel Fisac, the subject of his PhD thesis. Notable among his publications are articles and texts that address different aspects of Spanish art during the 1950s and 1960s.  

Julián Díaz Sánchez is a professor of Art History at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM). He has written, among other works, Políticas, poéticas y prácticas artísticas. Apuntes para una historia del arte (Catarata, 2009), La idea de arte abstracto en la España de Franco (Cátedra, 2013) and Pensar la historia del arte. Viejas y nuevas propuestas (Universidad de Zaragoza, 2021).

Germán Labrador Méndez is director of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Public Activities Department.

Antoni Miralda is a visual artist whose work is aligned towards investigations into food-related rituals, practices and symbolism. To this end, he has worked with collaborators such as Montse Guillén and Dorothée Selz to develop projects like Honeymoon Project (different locations, 1986–1992). Since 2000, he has focused his work on the FoodCulturaMuseum, an archive related to gastronomic diversity and its ties with world cultures and which, based out of Miami and Barcelona, explores and disseminates food culture in a multidisciplinary way. In 2010, the Museo Reina Sofía welcomed his solo show Miralda. De gustibus non disputandum.



Panel of lectures
—Presentation by José Díaz Cuyás

The Urbanism of Leisure Towards 1970
Eugenia Afinoguénova

“It is in the architecture and urbanism of leisure […] where, in a simplified manner, the full contradictions materialise that appear in consumer societies of bureaucratically led masses”, Mario Gaviria wrote in “The Urbanism of Leisure” in City and Territory No. 2 (1969). Surveying illustrated magazines from the early 1970s, this lecture gives context to the promises and failures of tourist cities in debates on the future of work, automation, mobility and social inequality after May ’68.

Images of the Tourist City
Julián Díaz Sánchez

The resurgence in 1970s Spanish painting of the Mediterranean aesthetic (at least as a topic of conversation) entails a (utopian?) vision of the tourist city. The notion of tourism slides around realist painting (or “committed”, as it was called at the time) and that which stresses the pleasure and warmth of the picture, with both revealing the notion of urban utopia.

“Utopia for Today, Dystopia for Tomorrow”. Remote Postcards
Cristina Arribas

With Americanisation as a “utopia” the starting point, Spain programmed its mass modernisation through tourist culture. Economic development approaches irremediably transformed the landscape (ideal, in theory) to turn it into a stage of literally consumed mass consumption. Postcards — also objects of tourism and consumerism — are good examples of this new world in colour and they multiplied in the developmentalist “ideal”, the seed of their destruction. Utopia or development? Postcards don’t lie, or do they?

Unique Proposals in the Landscape of Spanish Tourism. Fernando Higueras in Lanzarote
Ramón Vicente Díaz del Campo Martín-Mantero

In response to the standard tourism architecture built on most Spanish coastlines during the developmentalism period, certain unique approaches sprouted, for instance the works designed by Fernando Higueras in Lanzarote. Although only some were built, all were designed in the search to integrate architecture and nature to make the island a more prosperous place through the economic driving force of tourism, but without losing the most salient aspect of its identity: the landscape. This lecture analyses the architect’s different proposals, centring on Ciudad de las Gaviotas (The City of Seagulls, 1970) located on Risco de Famara.

6pm - 6:45pm
Conversation. Colourist Utopias (Or Dystopias?) from Consumer Society. Greetings from Counterculture
Antoni Miralda and Jordi Costa

The holiday resort as a dystopian territory, variables of the concept of post-tourism and the productive paradoxes that can make an ostensibly trivial object a souvenir are some of the concepts around which this lecture pivots. A selection of noteworthy works by Antoni Miralda, able to activate some of the contradictions inherent in this ritual of the tourist experience — which, post-pandemic, appears to have survived its foretold apocalypse — will colour the different seasons of this journey.

Conclusions and Final Debate
—Moderated by Germán Labrador Méndez