September 17, 2015

Antoni Maciá Cassany, Espai singular Maciá/Maciá's singular space

view from the road

Formerly known as Zoo Emporda (Zoo of the Emporda region) this art environment currently is named Espai singular Maciá (Maciá's singular space) after its founder Antoni Maciá Cassany (1918-2007), who realized a variety of single-handedly built structures on the property ¹.

structure on the left side of the entrance
unless stated otherwise the pictures (2014) are screenprints from 
the video by Serflac, published here in agreement with the author 

Life and works

Born in peasant family in Vic, a centuries-old city in Catalonia (Spain), Maciá at age sixteen began working at a local cement factory. Two years later he was drafted in the army. The Spanish Civil had begun and Maciá had to take part in the fighting.

portrait of the artist
this picture from the website Espai singular Masiá

He was wounded and returned to Vic to recover from his injuries. The city of Vic is a center of ecclesiastical activities and of producing saint statuettes. Maybe inspired by this activity, the young man became interested in modelling in clay. He succeeded in getting permission to follow art lessons at the local School of  Arts without formally registering and soon showed an innate skill in modelling, which made him decide to settle as a sculptor in Barcelona.

Here at first he earned a living for himself and Josefa Rovira Olmo he had married in 1942, by making and selling figurines of clay. Later he got a job as an assistant of a famous sculptor, but gradually he felt hampered in his development as an artist. Fallen into debt because of an exposition of his work at his own expense, in 1955 he moved to Begur a community along the Costa Brava.

It was the era of the initial development of tourism along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, as promoted by the government, and Maciá went to work in the field of building hotels.

the "Pajaro", a 6 m (19.5 ft) high bird with a worm in its beak

Creating an art environment

In 1967 Maciá bought a plot of land of some 17.000 m² (4.2 acres) in the community of Regencós where the family went to live. Although located in the countryside, Maciá probably realized that he could engage here in the various activities he wanted to pursue in life, acting in his own way and own spirit, integrating gardening, animal husbandry, architecture and sculpture.

the "rotunda", an open aviary, as well as the 
building with the three-pointed roof behind

Step by step animals were added to the site, domestic ones such as those living on a farm, but also exotic ones, such as monkeys and an emu.

To give shelter to these animals Maciá designed structures in a specific architectonic idiom, which he single-handedly constructed. He made these structures by piling cemented stones into the desired form and then covering the resulting model with a layer of cement, both internally and externally.

In particular in the 1970s Maciá exerted a lot of energy in transforming the site into an art environment/zoo.

left the "Caja de instrumente musical", 
in the middle the "Oruga"

The ensemble of structures on the left side in above picture, the Caja de instrumente musical. is a small and bare version of a never realized larger structure Maciá dreamed about. His idea was that it would produce musical sounds generated by a machinery activated by streaming water, all items beautifully illuminated.  

The sculpture in the middle of above picture, La Oruga, is the icon of the site. Its highest point rising some four meters (13 ft) from the ground, the construction was meant to be climbed by visitors so that they could be photographed once above.

a peasant and a mermaid

The site has only a few realistic sculptures of animals or humans. There is a Catalan peasant as in above picture, flanked by a mermaid, an ensemble still present at the premises.

Maciá made a number of such sculptures, but these were primarily intended to sell to visitors or to people who were interested in his artistic work. Since no records were kept, its unknown how many sculptures he sold and where they went. 

a structure meant to house monkeys, but never used a such

After Maciá died in 2007 the site has remained closed for a number of years. It must have suffered some degradation.

However, it has reopened as is evident from the video that was made in the spring of 2014, which shows a maintained site. At that time there also was a website that reported about activities which took place in 2015, such as workshops in dance, music and drawing, concerts and dance performances.

In later years the site must have closed again.

Situation in late 2021

The picture above and the one below, made in October 2021 by Tiramisu Bootfighter, who traveled through Spain in the context of his project La Valise, Galerie Ambulante, show that the site at that time still was in fair condition, although some larger structures were beginning to show decay

* Website Espai singular Maciá (in Spanish, English and French
 The site got a scholarly review in: Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, Seattle (Raw Vision, SPACES, San José State University), 2013, pp 316-325 (An abridged version is available on the website of SPACES) 

* Scenes of the site (2014) on the Provincia de Girona (Catalunya) trip video by Serflac (YouTube, starts at 18.50, cannot be embedded here)

¹  to my knowledge the only source in the public domain about this site is the review by Jo Farb Hernandez (see documentation), so I acknowledge that this post relies on Jo's research

Antoni Maciá Cassany
Espai singular Maciá (aka Zoo Emporda)
Regencós, Girona, Catalonia, Spain
on the road between Regencós and Pals
after 2015 no activities have been reported

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