In recent decades, there has been an enormous exodus of the Spanish countryside. ‘Empty Spain’ has become a household name. According to the Spanish Ministry of Planning, only 10 percent of the 42 million inhabitants live in 70 percent of the country. There are areas in Spain more sparsely populated than Siberia. The aging population, lack of investment in infrastructure and facilities, combined with a profound and long-term economic crisis, have led to the depopulation of rural areas.
Urbanization is a trend all over the world that seems to be continuing for the time being. At the same time, the boundaries of this urbanization are becoming increasingly visible. Extortionate prices, lack of space and pollution; the city is no longer a place of unprecedented possibilities for everyone. Increased climate awareness has resulted in a revaluation of rural areas, which has been given an extra boost by the Covid crisis, which hit Spain badly and resulted in one of the strictest and long-lasting lockdowns.
In addition to depopulation, a reverse movement is also underway, in which people want to bring abandoned rural villages back to life. This project documents three abandoned ruined villages in northern Spain that were recently repopulated, the people who choose to live there and the efforts to create a, often off-grid, utopian mini-society.
Project funded by a Covid-19 photography grant by Matchingsfonds de Coöperatie and an explorers grant (2021) by the National Geographic Society.