‘Ugliness’ defines a broad series of actions implemented on our country’s landscape, towns, villages and rural environment. This term is more used to comment the formal aspects of some photographs which appear sometimes in the media than to reflect on the reality captured in these pictures and its standardization. Nevertheless, this reality had to be discussed and so in November 2004 the I FORUM ON UGLINESS took place. The result of this event is collected in the book Ugliness? Destroying a Country, an useful reflection tool full of photographic documentation.

Two years after this event, we are summoning the II INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON UGLINESS, to think from Galicia about the distressing man-land relationship at the present historical stage.
Next, some brief notes to approach this subject:

‘Ugliness’ is not a specific phenomenon but a state of affairs, a way of being related to the environment and to the others that can surely be standardized with reflections from many different fields.

For instance:
‘No-places’ are consuming an important amount of public and private resources. It seems that transit and anonymity are obtaining more attention than real places: they are more profitable but at the expense of losing humanization — and so producing lack of communication and speed.
Starting from the 20th century, the 19th-century city model and the rural habitat model, which kept the human scale, are opening the way to new accommodation-models that take priority in quantitative capacity [cities+neighbourhoods, residential areas] or make disappear the previous ones — such as the rural model. The transit speed and the non-cohabitation are also reinforced: it’s the time of the profitable, self-sufficient, producer human being.
20th century’s devastating imperialist wars and the model of minority imprisonment also introduced a new form of methodical terror in World War Two: prisoners were exterminated and so specific facilities were built for that. 60 years later, the Palestinian people suffer a confinement that includes their assassination, the punishment of their families and of their land: destruction of their cultivated plains and buildings...
Physic walls visualize the refusal of ‘the other’ — in Palestine, USA or Ceuta; they aren’t only defensive walls, but the iconic affirmation of this model of prisons/mass-reservations.
The media’s reality-fiction establishes virtual models that are simplified, statistical and pre-interpreted. History is already history before it actually happens; it is decreed, and so it needn’t be thought. Politics are about newspaper headlines and the citizens’ capacity of thinking measures 30 cm x 40 cm per subject and day, including manipulated photos.
Our world is lived transversally — news about wars, disasters and the jet set — through exotic tourism at the most. We only speak about what the media refer to; they are the notaries of reality, what they ignore doesn’t exist.
Virtuality, trade of information and the role of stock markets are nowadays a fundamental support for the increased value: industrial capitalism gave way to financial capitalism, which is redefined in accordance with the profitability of concepts such as the speed of data transmission or the ownership of exterior spaces: instantaneity and new territories.
Authority and war are nowadays related to satellites; the thousands of tons of garbage that orbit the Earth with them certify this new status.
The Earth membrane is physically and sociologically tautening due to attacks with a magnitude and a cruelty which were unimaginable a few years ago. The surface of forests cut every year in Amazonia is similar to the size of Belgium. The new dam in China will create an inland sea that will make 600,000 people to be moved. Millions of citizens are forced to migrate risking their lives to escape from misery, sieges and preventive occupations wich cause millions of deaths. Cities are growing exponentially, out of control. Production centres are moved to look for cheaper labour, leaving thousands of people unemployed.
These tensions are stabilizing their progression and are defining new territories which lack sense or are difficult to intellectualize, separated by empty transit spaces. These are the territories of ‘ugliness’ and of provisional state, the isolation habitats.
In all these cases, the concept of territory fulfils new functions, usually related to distressing, amoral and inhuman experiences. As stated before, in places as Brazil and China there are destructions or dramatic alterations that force hundreds of thousands of people to be uprooted and to lose their personal and collective history.
In Galicia, inner-colonialism — which used to be external, but nowadays we can manage to destroy our country — works havoc: fires, buildings, quarries, corrupt mayors...
‘Ugliness’ is settling, progressing, canonizing — for instance, the use of spring mattresses to close the entrance to farms; in Laos, they use howitzers — but all this is just a symptom. We are facing the expression of a model that is vertiginously approaching collapse.