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Madrid City in English
Wednesday 23rd of August 2017
Alyssa Rasmussen 1301 4th of January 2013 by editor 11th of January 2013
Photo by Rafa Mosca
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Having started as a slaughterhouse, Madrid’s Matadero now hosts some of the city’s most cutting-edge art, theatre and cinema. Alyssa Rasmussen pays a visit to discover why it’s drawing attention

In 2009, when I first landed in Madrid, some friends and I spent time looking over the InMadrid listings, marking exhibitions and events that looked appealing. Our scribbles led us south, to an area not yet sketched onto my mental map of the city. Once inside what appeared to be a large compound, we encountered a clothing exchange, art exhibitions, and a vending machine containing crafted books. On the terrace, a large decorated plastic lawn covered the ground like a carpet, with small-to-large groups of people clustered across it.
    We joined them, enjoying live music from New York- and Madrid-based artists. The combination of great rhythms, a lively crowd, cold drinks, warm friends, and the impressive space, left me giddy. Though the boundaries of my Madrid map expanded, it seemed one of those impressionable evenings too good to recreate, and I didn’t immediately seek out the Matadero again. A year later, however, my curiosity has got the better of me, and I wheel my way to rediscovery by bike along the riverside paths of the Manzanares.

Photo: Rafa MoscaPast and present
 The rear of the Matadero can be seen from the cycle routes along the river—the building is mostly stone, but with red bricks drawing lines across the façade, accenting the windows, doors, and arches. Two visitors to the centre, Isabel Garcia and Carmen Gomez, state that aside from the theatre and exhibitions, they come here simply to enjoy a coffee in what was once a slaughterhouse and livestock market, circa 1911. They, like others I speak with, enjoy the space due to its structure anPhoto: Rafa Moscad its emblematic history. The absence of cows, sheep, and other livestock, that once roamed and then bled upon the slaughterhouse floor, has opened up the space for new, scentless, history-making activities.
    Travelling to the Matadero from his new home in Malasaña, Jonaton from Germany tells me that the transformation of the building into a multidisciplinary cultural and social centre attracts a crowd that can appreciate “old buildings, the atmosphere, and arty stuff.” Social and study spaces are comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and equipped with wifi. If you decide to study here you have a number of choices on how to approach your session: the waiter-djs in the Cantina change records while serving delicious hummus and Cauliflower balls; the bar (in Nave 20) offers more traditional Spanish food served in a classy atmosphere; the Intermediae’s bare-bones approach includes uniquely sculpted seats; and the library-esque Casa del Lector honours book lovers both professional and quotidian.

Refreshing
When it’s time for a break there are a number of places to wander. Often there are various exhibitions, including the design centre and multimedia pieces, to visit free of charge. For a longer break, or a night out, the Matadero theatre boasts two stages that offer rotating programmes of concerts and plays, whilst the Cineteca screens documentary and experimental films from Wednesday until Sunday, with tickets available for €3.50.
    Relaxation is the key for Pedro Pineda, from the Canary Islands, but visiting Madrid from his new home in Berlin. Pedro is an Experience Designer, focusing on how people interact with the social world while engaging with his designs. “I am interested in the sitting experience instead of the chair,” he explains. Seated in the main terrace, writing, Pedro adds that he has come here for “the space; it’s so open.” After spending the majority of his week among crowds in malls and tourist areas, the open air and escape from mass consumption beckoned. Though Berlin hosts a number of cultural venues, Pedro says he has yet to find a place in that city as rejuvenating as the Matadero. 

Creating space and opinion
From the centre’s terrace, one can see large buildings running along the back of the grounds, whose roles shift to meet exhibition and studio space needs. Writers, photographers, sculptors, urban planners, landscapers, painters, and film-makers can apply for scholarships that supply them with a space in which to  make their art. Aside from the exhibitions themselves, I am most impressed with the Nave de la Musica. Open to the public on certain concert days, this space hosts studios in the shape of miniature houses which seem to float above rolling, foliage-spouting earth, and they will easily prompt a conversation if you come to see a performance in this area.
    On this Sunday evening, kids are playing and running about on the terrace while their parents animatedly evaluate the merits of a theatrical production—in this case Leviathan (an interactive play adapted from Moby Dick). The Cantina suddenly fills up with a mixed group of moviegoers, discussing Nostalgia de la Luz, a film, set in Chile, which tells the a story about a meeting on a desert plain between some astronomers and a group of women in search of disappeared relatives. The groups’ exchanges and expressions suggest the movie incited thought and dialogue. Just with these glimpses, it seems Matadero Madrid, with its goal to “help reflect on the contemporary sociocultural environment and support processes to build the culture of today and tomorrow”, is certainly fulfilling its promise.

Matadero Madrid, Plaza de Legazpi, 8 (Metro: Legazpi). Tel: 91 517 73 09. Tues-Fri, 4-10pm; Sat, Sun, 11am-10pm. For more information visit: www.mataderomadrid.org

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I loved this article, good descriptions on the Matadero in Madrid.