I have to admit that when I first made the trek (via metro of course) out to Madrid’s Matadero… I was not thrilled. It was midterms week so I had two essays and a test the following day. Yet, my internship seminar was taking a class trip to some place called Matadero Madrid to ride bikes? I was less than happy about it. However, what we experienced made it all worth while.
A little about Matadero Madrid: basically it’s a slaughterhouse turned art center. Now look, I’m all for repurposing space and what not… but slaughterhouses are gross places of death. The only other times I’ve been in a reconverted slaughterhouse fit this “gross places of death” theme: in the middle of nowhere Texas, there’s a slaughterhouse turned haunted house and of course the fabulous clubs of NYC’s Meatpacking District.
As I rolled up to our meeting, I had absolutely no problems finding the massive space made up of a complex of pavilions. While this restored space was visually stunning with all of the art halls, cinemas, creative spaces… I was still annoyed about missing three hours of valuable study time, but then, after nearly crashing into a wall when the seat fell off my bike, I began to see the beauty of this space.
Miles of park stretch out over land that I learned only 10 years ago was a massive highway. When the slaughterhouse closed in the late 90s the city council tried to come up with a way to create a space for community and innovation. The parks are intended to appeal to every age group with bridges that are true works of art stretching over the river with musicians and artists posted up drawing inspiration from the scenery…and the new mega mall under construction on the other side of the park. An old man picks a random fruit from a tree (that allegedly tastes horrible) because he claims it helps his arthritis… why not? And my class, lead by our professor is riding around like a biker gang taking it all in. My professor told us about the parks built for teenagers to be spaces to hang out, keeping them out of the parking lots drinking, doing drugs, and other hoodlum things young angst filled almost-adults get up to. As the sun set we peddled back to the entrance of Matadero and explored the buildings.
As we walked past the bars and restaurants we couldn’t help but comment on how cool it was that they had a red carpet down the walk way… It made you really feel like a celebrity! Then we looked up and saw Will Arnett (who I would say it at least a solid B-lister) and realized we were in fact on a red carpet. We had accidently stumbled upon the Netflix Spain launch party (yes, we now have Netflix… yes, my grades reflect it). But I think this just shows what kind of place this is.
In New York City, we converted our Meatpacking District into chic clubs, bars, and designer stores where you can go out all night and do nothing but spend money… lots of money. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that use of space, but it’s kind of beautiful that Matadero Madrid has created a community space for visual arts, literature, performing arts, film, music, design, and landscape. It’s an innovative space full of artistic and cultural inspiration that just keeps developing. I definitely recommend a trip there just to ride a bike, grab a drink, and watch as some kids practice a strange interpretive dance.