Juan Baraja - Y Vasca/Euskal Y
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Juan Baraja - Y Vasca/Euskal Y

In 2021 Juan Baraja received a commission from the Fundación ICO to undertake a specific project on the new railway infrastructure known as the Basque Y, which is to provide the three Basque capitals
– Bilbao, San Sebastián and Vitoria – with a high-speed rail link – average journey time 35 minutes – and connections with France on one side and Madrid on the other.

The research by Juan Baraja, currently in progress, is being carried out in the context of the 20/XXI. Imágenes de España project promoted by the Fundación ICO. A continuation of other similar initiatives that have emerged since the nineteen eighties in both the Spanish and European contexts, 20/XXI. Imágenes de España seeks to represent the national territory and its transformations, including the social and environmental consequences of macro-infrastructure projects.

The Basque Y has been under construction for more than two decades now, with completion scheduled for 2028. A highly ambitious project, especially complex due to its scale, it has been affected by changes in European Union environmental and railway regulations. Opposition to this infrastructure has come from almost every section of Basque society and is voiced in a very diverse and heterogeneous range of arguments. Environmental groups such as Ecologistas en Acción, Eguzki and AHT Gelditu! Elkarlana have opposed not only its impact on Basque ecosystems but also the social model that such infrastructure brings in its wake. The engineering work has also been the object of a campaign of attacks and boycotts, begun in 2007 by ETA. Among the political parties opposed to the Basque Y are Equo Euskadi, Bildu, Amaiur, Euskal Herria Bildu, Sortu, Alternatiba, Zutik or Aralar. It has also been rejected by unions such as ELA, LAB, ESK, EHNE, CNT, CGT, STEE-EILAS or HIRU, and municipalities such as Anoeta or Elorrio have even held local referenda in which the majority voted against the new infrastructure.

The social and environmental cost can be seen in the imposition of a new landscape, the result of the materiality imposed on the forests by the concrete, the displacement of farms with the expropriation of their land, major earth movement and changes to the physiognomy of the provincial capitals. Weighed against this is the constant buzz of progress, embodied in more construction workers and in the promise of greater economic well-being in the future.

Juan Baraja addresses this project with a view to completing the photographic series in 2028.

Alfredo Puente, FCAYC