Conversations with the Llobregat Delta – Manifesta 15

The Embassy of the North Sea at Manifesta 15

The Embassy of the North Sea, together with Sheng Wen Lo and Leon Lapa Pereira is taking part in Manifesta 15 in Barcelona. Manifesta 15 has created a new framework for social and ecological research, actions and interventions that are being established with ten research participants across the metropolitan region of Barcelona. In the pre-biennial phase, starting over a year before the biennial officially opens, the selected participants are investigating specific thematic components in the three interconnected nodes identified by the Manifesta 15 team: along the Besòs river, the Llobregat delta and in the Collserola mountain range.

These investigations, in close collaboration with local experts and communities, will lead to new and alternative ways of calling attention to the climate crisis and will identify certain ecological and social transformations needed in the region. The social-ecological nodes of the metropolitan region connect with their immediate environments and articulate the relevant themes of the participatory process: how can we imagine a shared future together, how to manage imbalances, and how to care for ourselves and our natural surroundings.

The Embassy of the North Sea will focus its’ research on the rights and the voices of non-human actors and their relation to the natural environment in the nodes the Llobregat delta. The projects presented after this research phase will serve as the foundation of the conceptual framework which will provide a departure point for the Open Call for local projects, launching in September 2023.

Listening to the Llobregat Delta

The Llobregat Delta, suffering from drought and salinization, affects various sectors including agriculture, industry, and the residents of Catalonia, both human and non-human. Our research began by exploring the physical, speculative, and spiritual connections between the inhabitants of the delta. In June 2023, Sheng-Wen Lo and Leon Lapa Pereira initiated their conversation with the river by getting close to key segments of the Llobregat basin, starting from the delta and progressing to the midstream Sallent, where the salt mountain—the spoil heap from potash mining—is located, and then to the Baells reservoir near Berga. Throughout this journey, the river unveiled its multiple facets, from the human impact on the landscape, which disrupted its natural course, to the encroachment of exotic species that threatens the indigenous ones in and around El Llobregat.

People have abandoned both the river and the imagination of what the delta could have become. As a consequence, accessing the river is not easy due to limited entry points, resulting in a lack of familiarity and connection with the local population. The research conducted by the Embassy of the North Sea on the Llobregat Delta will culminate in creative interventions, which will be showcased as part of Manifesta 15 in 2024.