Dark tourism?: Belchite

The photographic project “Dark tourism?” presents a selection of locations of great historical interest marked by death and tragedy. Manel Clemente, who had worked in his previous projects “Ghost towns” and “Forgotten ruins” the theme of abandonment and desolation now intends to document and analyze the interest shown today in places that even they fled the standards of conventional tourism industry they receive thousands of visitors every year. The title of the project is based on the nomenclature that teachers Jonh J. Lennon and Malcolm Foley of Glasgow Caledonian University used from 1996 to designate this type of tourism and to tittle their essay “Dark tourism , the attraction of death and disaster”, published in 2000. At the same time the project is also inspired in the project “I Was Here: Photographs of Dark Tourism” (2014) made by the photographer Ambroise Tézenas with which shares some of its locations. Visiting places linked to empressonament, death, genocide, tragedy ... although considered by some authors as a contemporary phenomenon and even a new fad ... is not at all a new habit. Neither are new the reasons why tourists visit these desolate sites. Historical interest and responsible reporting are usually the most common reasons but they can sometimes be mixed with morbid curiosity or attraction towards horror. Manel Clemente, however, adds a question mark to the title of the project . For him visiting these places, far from submerging him in the darkness, let him approach a clairvoyant hope both responsible and demanding, which should help us as human beings not to commit again the absurd mistakes of the past. The preservation of the remains that allow us to maintain a shared historical memory is essential in this regard to preserve the balance and peace in our globalized world. The selection of sites that Manel Clemente has photographed up to now include locations in Europe connected to the Spanish Civil War and to the World War II. “Dark tourism?” is a work in progress that tries to offer an honest approach to these past conlicts. The project also includes some sites that today are unfortunately linked to injustice and tragedy as well. Some of his pictures include the respectul interaction of visitors with the places visited.
 From 24th August to 7th September 1937, loyalist Spanish Republican and rebel General Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War fought the Battle of Belchite -Zaragoza- in and around the town. After 1939 a new village of Belchite was built adjacent to the ruins of the old one, which remains a ghost town as a memorial to the war. These photos were taken in July 2015.
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