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The Caseta and the Interior in Seville's Ephemeral City

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Abstract:

For one week every April, the Andalusian city of Seville shifts its activity from the commercial hub of the historic center for the annual festivities of the spring fair, Feria de Abril. The Feria sees a 100-hectare dusty plateau near the Guadalquivir River transform into an ephemeral, tent-like city of lanterns, light bulbs, and candy-striped tarpaulins. Over 1,000 privately controlled temporary structures – casetas – form the blocks and street of the festive city's urban layout. The party town is erected, enacted, and demounted in just over a week; part of an annual cycle of expectation, becoming, and nostalgia. The sole programmatic function of the interior of the caseta is to support the convivial acts of socializing, eating, drinking, and dancing: forging new social networks and simultaneously reinforcing established hierarchies of class, status, and family. While the exterior appearance of the casetas is controlled by strict aesthetic guidelines imposed by the city council, the interior reflects a varied interpretation of the caseta typology, merging and inverting interior and exterior, profane and sacred. The interiors make manifest and celebrate the agricultural origins of the fair and the contradictions inherent within the city/country sophisticated/rustic encounter: rich damasks, velvets and lace, gilt mirrors contrasted with folkloric-inspired rush mat furniture, paper lanterns, and carnations. The ephemeral ludic city mirrors the urban and social constructs of the “permanent” city on the other side of the river; here, however, the festive interior of the caseta permits a greater degree of porosity and social mobility than could ever be possible between the thick masonry walls of the noble palaces and the concrete blocks of the housing estates. Ephemeral constructions, spatial inversion, and displacement executed within the controlled liminal contexts of festivities have long been a tradition of Andalusian culture, reaching their artistic zenith during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Through an analysis of the development of the caseta's interior from its origins as a replication of a domestic reception room to the contemporary state of hyper-baroque party hall, it will be argued that the interior of the caseta acts as symbolic and programmatic motor of the festive construction of space within the ephemeral city of the Feria.

Keywords: EPHEMERAL DESIGN; FERIA DE ABRIL; INTERIOR DESIGN; SEVILLE; SPANISH FESTIVALS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/204191213X13601683874082

Publication date: March 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture brings together the best critical work on the analysis of all types of spaces. The journal investigates the complexities of the interior environment's orchestration and composition, and its impact on the inhabitant from a trans-disciplinary perspective.

    The interior is the journal's central focus and contributions from interior design practitioners and theorists are welcome. The journal embraces perspectives from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, architecture, art and design history, cultural studies and visual culture, and places no limits in terms of either geography or chronology. The journal sets out to challenge divisions between theory and practice, and aims to provide an essential forum for all those with an interest in the design, history and meaning of interiors.

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