Saturday 9 May 2009

Catching Up With The Mercado Central

Following on from my previous post on Heathrow’s Terminal 5, here is another arrangement of glass and steel, courtesy this time of the Mercado Central, a massive indoor market in the centre of Valencia. A classic piece of art nouveau design from the very end of nineteenth century, its glass dome forms a prominent part of the city’s red skyline at night. Wandering through its crowded concourses, stacked with every kind of foodstuff known to human taste, it felt a little like passing through a vast transparent oesophageous. Its piled up and edible contents, together with the cruciform layout and massive dome, also seemed more ecclesiastical than Valencia’s main cathedral, where the vessel alleged to have been used by Christ used at the Last Supper resides.

This combination reminded me of Walter Benjamin’s comments in Section S: ‘Painting Jugendstil, Novelty’ from his Arcades Project:

‘The three lines of Jugenstil. The line of vice (Baudelaire-Beardsley-Wilde). The line of emancipation (Ibsen, Nietzsche). The line of priesthood (Mallarmé, George)’

‘The three “motifs” in which Jugentstil finds expression: the hieratic motif, the motif of perversion, the motif of emancipation.’

In comparison with the heroically vaulted glass of the Mercado Central, the highest windows in Valencia Cathedral are so old and so discoloured it’s as if they were reverting back to sand. Each pane is uniquely different from the others – something only time and change can do. Me, I just go where my camera takes me.

Pictured above: windows and domes, mobile phones and crustaceans mingle in the Mercado Central just before Palm Sunday 2009.

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