Returning culture to its origins and who it really belongs to: the public and the people. The Per Amor a L’Hart (For the Love of Hart) festival came about under this premise fourteen years ago in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, attempting fill a niche in the country’s busy cultural agenda, in which ever more festivals are proliferating. In the words of its director Josep Antoni ‘Joselito’ Hernández Navarro, they do so staking on “art, culture and public space as essential elements for social transformation and to promote respect, inclusion and dialogue.”
Dance and circus are the pivots upon which this street festival turns, held in the centre of L’Hospitalet from the 5th to the 7th of July, now in its fourteenth edition, “consolidating as an essential date in the city’s cultural calendar and the country’s cultural agenda,” emphasizes ‘Joselito’. This year a total of 23 companies will participate, transfiguring the centre of the city for three days with a diverse programme that will allow the public to experience the vitality of emerging contemporary creation fusing avant-garde and tradition in their streets.
The programme is coordinated by the Bipolart group of artists and independent managers in L’Hospitalet and will feature some thirty shows, among which are productions like Elias Aguirre and Chey Jurado’s dance spectacle “Pez esfinge” (Sphinx Fish). But differentiating the festival is becoming increasingly difficult. “We are now dealing with a situation that many street art festivals are suffering from: audience saturation. Everyone hears about them and many who may not go to the theatre because of ticket prices, do go to festivals because there are very high quality shows which are often free, like ours, says Hernández Navarro.
On the other hand, the saturation of festivals has another, very positive effect: the chance of getting street arts to reach a wider audience, and turning these encounters into a platform for the diffusion of culture that is difficult to find elsewhere, other than in specialised media and theatres. “I think that this type of show motivates the public. The interest of those who are curious about what they have seen in the street grows before the panoply on offer, and that is when we believe they are encouraged to go to cultural amenities and consume art,” says the organiser of the event in L’Hospitalet.
“Per amor a l’Hart” will begin on Thursday, July 5th, the first day which they consider is the “city event” because that is when there is a mostly local audience. The Catalan company Amer i Àfrica will open the festival with “Envà” (Partition Wall), a circus show in which two people diverge on the peculiarities of human relationships and the need to communicate without barriers. All this is done through movement, balance with a hand-to-hand technique, stunts, humour and composition of space in the midst of 250 kg of straw.
Still on Thursday, one of the highlights will be the Belgian Cirque Exalté’s show “Furieuse, Tendresse.” In 1975, Patti Smith released her “Horses” album, a concentrate of wild rock and fiery poetry. Exactly 43 years later, as if by dizzying coincidence, three enthusiasts come to the stage motivated by this contagious passion, rock music, and fuse a multidisciplinary circus with underground music from the 60s and 70s. “Furieuse, Tendresse” is a cry, a show of exaltation born to express the intensity of life and of the times. “We hope it makes the young and not so young audiences who come vibrate,” says the festival director.
Hailing from Madrid, Friday will see Elias Aguirre’s company, who feature twice at the festival, perform the award-winning “Longfade.” The work has won awards such as the Unidanza prize and has toured all five continents. This dance piece reflects, in terms of philosopher Spinoza, a body that suffers from internal conflict, poison. This situation will extend both in time and modifying the body’s essence. The process of intoxication will never cease; nevertheless, it will make it strong, sturdy.
MORE AND MORE MUSICAL
In recent years, the festival has also made a clear commitment to live music, with a concert every night. In this edition, the person in charge of closing the festival will be early Soul and Rock & Roll band from Barcelona Shake, led by the powerful voice of songstress Martell, who has been defined as the direct heir of myths like James Brown and Carla Thomas, backed by accomplished musicians.
Although the cultural offering around Barcelona is expansive throughout the first weekend in July, and the festivals held throughout the country does not stop growing, Bipolart is confident they will repeat their success in recent years, with thousands of people in the Rambla Marina boulevard (a space where small and medium-sized shows are performed) and the Lluís Companys i Jover square (where full-length and large-format shows are performed). “It is just another programme, and being original is very hard. Festival programmes are quite similar, but we try to make a difference in terms of quality, dedicating 51% of the budget to the artists’ fees, and also offering all shows for free,” concludes ‘Joselito’.