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Rosa Lleó on The Green Parrot / Barcelona

In April 2014, Rosa Lleó and João Laia opened The Green Parrot in Barcelona, an independent space and optimistic experiment in a scene darkened by spending cuts and decreasing institutional support.

What made you and João think of running a space?

João and I met at Curatorlab in Stockholm in 2012. We realized we had shared interests and the will to run an independent space. And we were lucky enough to find an abandoned old building in downtown Barcelona. It had been a house, and we preferred to keep it that way, as an intimate space, rather than turn it into a white cube. Our first show was titled The World of Interiors, a group show devoted to domestic objects.

How does the space relate to the city?

The Green Parrot is a far cry from the institutions and their open calls and prices, etc., which dominate the landscape of Barcelona. As curators we were interested in developing a program over time, working side by side with artists and also improvising. The city is facing a tough moment: many centers and institutions are closing or barely keeping themselves afloat, but without direction. After some years of witnessing this situation, it was time to act and not just complain.

What’s upcoming this year?

We are taking on four projects this year, most of them solo shows to explore in-depth the work of artists who are still not well known in Spain. We just opened André Romão’s show, “Iron, Flesh, Abstraction,” and we plan to work with Basim Magdy over the spring.

What are day-to-day operations like?

We work over the phone most of the time because João lives in London, where he’s completing his Ph.D. I live in Barcelona and am physically present at the space during visiting hours.

Is it important for you to keep the scale down and have direct contact with visitors?

It is very important. We love to receive people and tell them about ourselves and the show they’re viewing, to create a sense of nearness. We are on the second floor — we have nothing on the street except an intercom nameplate. People passing don’t just drop in; they come because they are already interested, and so we’re equally interested in knowing about them.

by Claudio Iglesias