Jose’s workshop in Hospitalet de Llobregat.
Jose poses for a portrait in front of an anti-squatter door he machined in his workshop. Jose’s father always told him that a locksmith in Barcelona has to be able to handle both his life at work and at home. “If you can’t manage a balance, when you arrive home after work it is your family that pay the price of the moral responsibility you carry. You have to know how to change the chip in your head”
Jose fixes the broken door of a real estate agent’s shop front in central Barcelona. As a city that thrives on tourism, the rising rents in the city center are pricing out financially vulnerable families. With a near collapse during the 2009 financial crisis in Spain, Catalonia is the autonomous community that has suffered the largest increase in evictions, up 10.5% in 2018 from the previous year. Real estate companies are increasingly having to commence eviction procedures against tenants who cannot possibly adapt to the rising cost of living.
Abdel Fatam’s family stands at the window of their apartment in the working class Nou Barris neighbourhood of Barcleona while PAH activists plead with the judicial comittee to postpone Abdel’s eviction to a later date. The PAH (The Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) is a grassroots community of activists who defend the right to housing. They organize sit-ins or blockades for families on their eviction date and offer legal advice to people facing eviction.
"At this moment we are waiting to execute an eviction that has been delayed. I'm taking the time to have a coffee and disconnect until the eviction begins because I don't know what I'm going to have to face."
Jose stands by the judicial committee as they consider whether or not they can forcibly evict Lamia and her two children given the sit-in organized by PAH activists. This is the sixth time Jose had been called by the real estate company MAC - 5 SL's lawyers to perform an eviction at the address. He had previously been called to evict Lamia only to be stopped by the PAH activists before.
"I am trying on my father's motorcycle track suit. I don't do well in my studies because I hate studying. It's something that I don't really enjoy. Since I was little I have been working with my father. I get to see how he helps people feel safe in their homes. When I am older I want to be the best locksmith, just like my father."
Jose’s fifteen-year-old son, Josep, wears his father’s motorcycle test pilot suit in his parent’s room. In a past life Josep's father was a test pilot at Catalonia’s Montmeló race circuit tasked with racing prototype models around the track before they were deemed safe to use in official races. Like his father, Josep wants to follow in his footsteps to become the eighth generation locksmith in his family. “As a boy I used to go to work with my dad and see how his work made people feel safe in their homes.” Josep plans to leave school next year in order to work fulltime with his father.
Jose displays his son’s name tattooed above a locksmith figure. Jose takes pride in being a 7th generation locksmith. “My trade comes from my family. I don't have any studies but I have been working my whole life. Just like I am teaching my son now, my father did the same, as did my grandfather and his grandfather before him. It is a tradition."
Porky the pig meanders accross the room to eat her dinner. Porky occupies a whole room in Jose’s house. Jose often finds it easier to connect with animals than with humans. His family cares for Porky, two dogs, a gecko, and several dozen mice in their home situated in the northern Barcelona suburb of Vall d'Hebron.
Sonia sits for a portrait on a Sunday morning. Taken months before she and her husband Jose decided to separate, she spoke of her relationship with him and to his work. “I notice Jose’s stress because he gets very nervous, worried, and he is easily angered. I react by getting angry and nervous as well"
"Jose's stress, I notice it because he gets very nervous, worried, and he is easily angered. I react by getting angry and nervous aswell in addition to one of my defects being that I am a person with very little patience."
A door broken by squatters in the northern suburbs of Barcelona. Jose was called by the building owner just after the squatters had been evicted to replace the door so that they could not re-enter once the police had left.
In the increasingly gentrified neighbourhood of Gracia, old family christmas cards lie in the rubble of an abandoned factory that Jose was paid to strip and clear out. Jose expects to start training his son Josep in the fall of 2019 as he and Sonia begin the process of separating from eachother. Jose continues his work as the housing crisis in Barcelona rages on.
Jose poses for a portrait in a shipping container yard he manages the security for. Speaking of his relationship with Sonia he says, “When there are evictions she doesn't ask how my day went because she knows I don't want to talk about it. You feel bad, you don't feel like doing anything, you feel restrained."