The Barcelona of the ‘monstres’ | Catalonia
The Barcelona of the fair barracks and the street shows that were created in the 18th century and up to the end of the first decades of the 20th century is not familiar. Flats, taverns, cassettes…accompanied by a bizarre, aberrant oci, based on the exhibition of human deformities, bloody bloodshed of animals, corporal torture…An oci that had no history. Enric H. March has written it freely Barcelona, freak show (Vienna, Barcelona City Council). There are six hundred pages on which there is a documented census of creatures, locals, entertainment genres, etc. “I’ve always been interested in popular knowledge and the one I’ve tried has been a surprise. There was no bibliography”. For 10 years he has listed the articles and newspapers and is convinced that the tip of the iceberg is being published. “Most marginal shows are not going to pass by the press. Together with these facts, I have built a story in parallel to the urban evolution of the city and its population, enlarged by the industrial revolution”.
The city of Mai had no fet fàstics to the macabre exhibitions. At the end of 1897, the executions were going to be public and the botxí of the time, Nicomedes Méndez López, was going to offer a substitute spectacle, based on the simulation, creating a Palace of Executions. You will not get the permit. It is one of the few interventions by the authorities in this most grotesque entertainment market. March ressenya un altre cas: the fakir Taimú. On June 2, 1933, at the Teatre Circ Olympia, it is to crucify. Hi, she had to be five days, but the police ordered her suspended. Al llibre is reproduced an indignant article by Josep Maria de Sagarra to lookout (June 8) Title about cruelty that titlla l’éspectacle de repugnant. I applaud the seva prohibition because human cruelty is the mateixa “for three-cents years”. An other writer who s’acostà to the subject is going to be Santiago Rusiñol. March cements the seva novel·la The “Fat Girl””, a being marginalized that the seva tia will exhibit in a barracks, the Palau dels Fenòmens. Per a March, “it is an attack on The Planted Ben d’Eugeni d’Ors and the idealist postulates of the Noucentisme d’una Catalunya luminosa, net, classic. Reality, for him, was something else and explained what was happening in the street with the language of the street”.
The catalog of monsters i monsters is incredible. Hi ha esguerrats, mutilats… Al carrer de la Boqueria is va veure una noia sense colzes ni genolls i l’any 1897 es could contemplate a hermaphrodite suposat. Al carrer dels Boters s’exposà un fetus humà amb dos caps. About the Siamese twins Radica i Doodica, who acted in 1901, the press explained that to feed them I had to have one. Then hi has the repertoire of gegants dels quals is detailed diet i pes. The inventory of children, of bearded men, of incombustible ones – like Dona Lucifer who is tancava in a gàbia in flames – or of the men who resuscitate – like Professor Fretone, who is ugly to bury in the Plaça de Braus Monumental during all l’espectacle i en sortia viu- és extensíssim.
March fixed the urban geography of this offer. “Besides the disentailment, they occupy land on the Rambla, with the future Plaça Reial. I am hoping that after the construction of the walls, many barracks will be installed in Plaça de Catalunya in the shadow of the Equestrian Circus, which will be hi for seven years. The square was a bunch of plots of land owned by different owners that the City Council decided to urbanize and expropriate in 1895”. The barraques will emigrate, llavors, cap to Paral·lel.
In the seva botiga of the Rambla dels Estudis, Juan Cornaria exhibited feres and a home of Guinean origin that had raw meat because it could not be fully tamed. Som a l’any 1856. Segons March, is the first documented news of what will be in an immediat future the human zoos on s’exhibited tribes of the Aixantis, the Inuits, the Sudan, etc. Or the tribe of l’Himàlaia that came from a species between the man and the monkey. Of fet, it was a troupe of people with achondroplasia and microcephaly.
But surely the most solid and persistent offer, apart from the circuses, will be the anatomical cabinets -in Barcelona, in the coming years, and tanks, about thirty- and the wax museums. Between 1798 and 1904 there were more than sixty collections of wax figures. “Molts incorporate the repertory of the anatomical cabinets that show escorxats mannequins to be able to contemplate the interior of cos humà. Some had rooms reserved by cavallers on the assumpte for sexually transmitted diseases and the morphine and cocaine outbreaks. In a newspaper I found the letter of a reader who complained of this discrimination. The anatomical salons are the commercial evolution of the cabinets that went to the faculties of medicine. The bourgeoisie needs an excuse to approach cos i la troba in science. From anthropology, in the case of human zoos, to medicine and prophylaxis. In general, they are spectacular molt sexualitzats. Apart from these exhibitions with scientific coverage, in trobem, for example, the nana Princess Topaz that the seva mare presents to the press as a cocotte”.
Hi there are two outstanding entrepreneurs: Francesc Roca and Francesc Darder. The first, mag, ventriloquist and owner of the Roca Museum of anatomical figures, was also going to be an exhibitor of cinema at the end of the vintage and during the thirties he was going to release titles as between life and death or the damaged ones, on the perills of syphilis. Darder, a taxidermist, is the darrere of different collections of comparative anatomy, of the Barcelona zoo and… of the negre of Banyoles. March is equally satisfied with being able to rescue the biography of other anonymous characters, like that of the first Catalan home elephant.
Enric H. March, professor of languages, has a bibliography with a historian with a primary subject, Barcelona. I continue to trek in this quest for the silence of the spectacles of the barracks, and they disappear. “S’acaben per diferents raons. The World War left an arrival of things destroyed. Allò that was strange is torna quotidià. Our entertainment appears, like the cinema, and certain characters, like the children and the giants, there are other kinds of sports and entertainment”.