Text and photographs by Carlos Copertone
Apoptosis is the self-programmed death of a cell in order to control its development and growth. It is a key function of organisms as it facilitates the destruction of damaged cells.
The effects of the deep economic crisis of the 1970s lasted beyond that decade, conditioning the economy of the Basque Country during the following decade. Industry, the most important economic engine during the twentieth century, was the main victim, mostly that located around the Nervión River. With decreasing demand and obsolete facilities, the economic situation not only affected heavy industry (steel and shipbuilding), but also other productive activities, such as the food industry and the manufacturing of small appliances.
One of the most aggressive interventionist policies tried to match offer and demand by providing subsidies to a determined number of companies, for example, to those manufacturing small appliances. If until the beginning of the 1980s those Europe-based companies were able to remain independent, the situation changed radically in the following years, forcing them to merge into larger companies due to the escalating price war.
In Spain, at the beginning of the 80s, the government created the Plan de Reestructuración del Sector de Electrodoméstico de Línea Blanca (Restructuring Plan for the Sector of Kitchen Appliances) that would sacrifice some companies to save others. Macroeconomy generates an evident and direct impact in the industrial sector, sociology, and landscape of small regions. The progressive closing of companies turned into a gradual growth in unemployment and abandonment that lasted more than thirty years.
The photographs included here portray this abandonment and the traces left in former industrial nodes in Biscay. They are part of a larger project that is framed within the context of urbanism and the architecture of resistance, with the aim of generating new critical thinking about the effect of the relocation of productive areas and the consequence of the economic crisis and industrial stagnation that has affected the Basque Country during the last few decades.
The comprehensive exploration of these conditions allows us to discern the unexpected consequences that are also generated by this industrial stagnation and displaced growth. The rest of the photographs from this project, but not included in this series, focus on new nodes of production of consumer appliances located in Asia.
Apoptosis challenges us to think about the effects of change in our identity and its reciprocal pollution.
Carlos Copertone is a judge who received his PhD from the University of Extremadura in Spain. He specializes in urbanism and regional planning and has taught at the Carlos III University in Madrid. He is a permanent contributor to the Spanish edition of Architectural Digest (AD España).
www.carloscopertone.com | @carloscopertone