Tourism, nineteen-fifteen

4 May 2009

Alhambra 1915

José Martinez Rioboó, ca. 1915.
“Grupo de socios del Centro Artístico en una visita a la Alhambra,”
Negativo estereoscópica sobre vidria (gelatino-bromuro) 45 x 107 mm.


When I was feverish in Granada over New Year’s with my family, I found a book of photographs taken by José Martinez Rioboó around the turn of the century. My sister had a digital camera; she took pictures of a few of the pages for me while I lay on the couch sweating & eating kiwis. (Digital replications of silver emulsions copied onto printed pages . . . )

There’s a whole chapter of photographs of the Alhambra before it was restored further – stones missing, leaning walls, birdnests, an abandoned ruin. It only became a thronging hive of digital cameras & images of crowds obscuring running water & mosaics relatively recently, in some ways thanks to Washington Irving, who was able to hole up in their for months & write Tales of the Alhambra – one of the myriad reasons why Andalucía has a perpetual tinge of exotic romanticism to Anglophones.

Belle Époque tourism seems like a tranquil affair, all said & done.

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