To Live and “Ravalejar” in Barcelona

In the minimalist courtyard adjacent to MACBA, Barcelona’s centerpiece modern and contemporary art museum, there’s large sign — itself a work of art — that displays the made-up word “Ravalejar,” a neologism in the Catalan language. The sign explains the part of speech and usage of “Ravalejar,” which alludes to the edgy, in places gritty, energetic and recently hip Barcelona neighborhood of El Raval. The word is a verb and was proposed to mean something loosely along the lines of “to visit and take in the atmosphere of Raval.” The neighborhood has been the site of major urban renewal efforts by the city in the past couple of decades and has in recent years witnessed rapid gentrification. The establishment and construction of MACBA in Raval itself was one of the first of those major projects starting in the 1990s and helped to lead the neighborhood’s transformation. Near the sign are black-white wheat-pasted photos of local residents in the style of JR.