Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is situated north of Barcelona, by an little over an hour and a half drive.
The Costa Brava is formed where the Pyrénées meet the Mediterranean Sea. An hour south of the French border, Tossa is tucked into the bottom of it.
Our home is located within a town at a place where cars can no longer pass due to the narrowing streets.
The limpid Mediterranean. Below the surface teems with schools of fish, sea urchins and octopus.
The big beach at high summer.
Deep Catalonia. A cosmopolitain village. Archeological excavations revealed Roman settlements. Defense against pirate slavery in the Middle Ages prompted the construction of defensive walls. Over the centuries, the livelihood was supported by olives, wine, cork and fish. Tourism exploded after Hollywood made its first movie in Spain during the Franco era, "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman", featuring Ava Gardner and James Mason. The 50's glamour has faded yet a faint echo remains to this day.
Tossa de Mar is a jewel overshadowed by the legendary glamour of Salvador Dali's Cadaqués in northern Costa Brava. Spain's decades-long promotion of the tourism economy has prevailed as mass tourism, which has been the target of severe criticism in the press recently. The only solution is to grow the cultural value of such tourism gradually over time. Gentrification-as-such is desirable.
Fast gentrification is abhorrent and unjust to the existing subject community. The mechanics of cultural arbitrage that is gentrification works best when the gears grind slowly. As I like to say, "There are many art worlds", which is to say that art exists on an inclusive spectrum from popular to elite. This residency is a small gesture in the effort to grow the presence of "sophisticated" art in this region.
Or should I say "regrow", since Tossa had been a home once long ago to some of the most sophisticated and elite thinkers and makers in the art world: Bataille and Masson.
From the Tossa Municipal Art Museum website: "Catalan artists Rafael Benet and Pere Creixams, who already spent periods in Tossa, were joined by well-known artists from abroad such as Marc Chagall, André Masson and Georges Kars, who came to live and work in the town." In fact, André Masson and Georges Bataille roomed together in this house, now a restaurant situated in front of the walled fortification of the old town.
It was here that Bataille created his publication "Acephalia" and further his ideas about transgression in art. One can see the signature of local flora and fauna in Masson's drawing and painting of that time. These artists left an echo of a high water mark that is within our reach today.