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Escif – Valencia’s Graffiti Meister

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I see graffiti as a necessary symptom of life in contemporary cities. A painted wall represents a way of using the city that is not thought about socially (though it becomes more so every day). It seems very interesting to me that people that live in a city do not settle for using it according to imposed rules; they invent new ways of utilizing it.

These are the words of Escif, Valencia’s most famous street artist, in an excerpt from the book Textura: Valencia Street Art we found over at

Escif’s work will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s spent time walking around the city. Spooky black & white bird-like people populate his images, which seem to usually be social commentaries on topics like capitalism and religion. There’s an artistic style to his work which makes it stand out from more traditional graffiti, or even mural painting.

One of Escif’s paintings was the background on my iPhone for a long time… they’re really striking & fun. New images seem to be springing up all the time. He has a Flickr photostream, which collects all of his paintings to date. And if you get a chance, make sure read the excerpt over at to learn a good deal more about the artist.

Here are some more photos of the work of Valencia’s premier street artist, which we have taken during our time in the city:


And a video:

Short Term Rental: Blue Moon Valencia

December 3, 2009 at 9:44 am Comments (4)

Protests over Citizenship Course in English

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For the past few weeks, there have been a lot of protests in Valencia. We already posted about the student protests of the Bolonia Process, but there have also been a lot of people in the streets fighting something called “Ciudadanía en Inglés“. These protests have been getting national attention, so I finally decided to figure out what the hell the whole deal was.


I hope to keep my facts straight, but there isn’t much information in English on this. Please correct any misunderstanding I might have, in the comments section!

The Spanish government has mandated a school course called “Education for Citizenship”, which teaches students about Spain’s constitution and how to be a good citizen. Because the constitution includes “controversial” topics like the legality of gay marriage, and the right to abortion, the Roman Catholic Church is having another of its conniption fits. How dare schools teach students such awful things! It’s… it’s… it’s… IMMORAL!!! The facts that gay people have the right to marry in Spain, and that women have the right to choose, well those must not even be mentioned. Let’s just pretend it’s not the case.

Valencia’s conservative, PP-led government is unsurprisingly siding with the Catholic church in this argument. They’re unable to overrule the national government and remove the new coursework, so, in a petulant attempt to throw a wrench into things, have instituted a rule that the Citizenship classes may only be taught in English. I mean: ridiculous. It’s a class about Spanish citizenship being taught in every Spanish school by Spanish teachers to Spanish kids.

So, that’s what the massive protests of the past weeks have been about. And, the protesters have won a satisfying victory… earlier this week, the Valencian government withdrew their absurd regulation.

Like I said, I’m not an expert on this issue, so if you’d like to read more, there’s some information at Freethinker, and here’s an short radio segment about it from the BBC.

December 18, 2008 at 1:03 pm Comments (2)

Another Day, Another Student Protest

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If the students of Valencia spent as much time in the classroom as they do in the streets, they might have cured cancer or put a pony on the moon by now. Today, I went out for groceries and happened upon yet another gigantic protest, this time in opposition to the Bologna Declaration.

Education is a Right, Not a Market

The Bologna process is, from what I gather, an attempt by the European Union to bring all of the higher education systems of its member states into greater alignment. Its meant to facilitate international student transfers, by normalizing length and content of study. For example, after the Bologna Declaration goes into effect (scheduled 2010), all bachelor degrees will consist of a 3-year coursework. The full text of the Declaration can be found here.

So far, pretty uncontroversial. But, the Bologna process also seems to call for the privatization of higher learning — by allowing companies to fund certain degrees. This appeared to be the aspect most under fire by today’s protesting students. There are academic concerns as well; the educational system that Bologna process most resembles is that of the UK. Complete restructuring of a system of learning that dates back to the Middle Ages is bound to cause some headaches. Wikipedia has a useful summary of the process, including details of its implementation across the EU.

I’ve never been to a Spanish school or University, so I’d appreciate any comments as to why the Bologna process is so unpopular here. Will it make higher education more expensive, more beholden to corporate interests, or both? Also, do the protesting students have any hope of succeeding in their goal of stopping it? Spain is already a signatory to the declaration, and since the changes take effect soon, it seems unlikely that the country will change its mind.

Update: Looks like the same protests were not as peaceful in Barcelona! I didn’t watch the parade here for too long, but things definitely didn’t seem out-of-control.

November 20, 2008 at 6:25 pm Comments (2)