Tag Archives: Spain

Ay Dios Mio! it’s Valca film from Spain @ Labeauratoire

Valca Cans 2s

A great contact of mine in Spain recently alerted me to a truly unique find at an old photo shop in his area. Two cans of an old film called “VALCA Pelicula-Cine Grano Fino Positiva” I’ve tested it and found that it has survived the years, and can still be used in traditional B&W photography. This prompted me to do some very long and obsessive research on this little-known film company. So, before making some of this unique film available in the Labeauratoire shop, I wanted to share the intriguing results from my exhaustive quest. At a time when the re-birth of the Italian “Ferrania” film factory is in on everyone’s mind, it’s a bit depressing to read about one that didn’t make it, and to think about “what could have been…”


photo by Alfonso Batalla

Please check out this magnificent Urbex-style photography of the abandoned Valca factory by Alfonso Batalla.


The Valca brand has a fairly long reputation in Spain, but most of us outside the Iberian Peninsula have never heard of it. It seems Valca Film was much-loved from what I can gather in the numerous archived Spanish reports about the factory’s unfortunate demise in 1993.

The name “Valca” is a tribute to the area where the factory came to be built, by combining letters from the Valle de Mena (Mena Valley) and the Rio Cadagua (Cadagua River) which runs through it.  Four Basque families, (Basterra, Delclaux, Oriol and Torrontegui) took their knowledge from the chemical industry in Bilbao in the 1940s, and searched for a location to build a film factory. Production methods at the time required a steady source of clean water, who’s temperature would remain basically constant all year-round. The town of Sopeñano and the banks of the Cadagua River fit the bill perfectly, and the workers of the area certainly welcomed the jobs.

During the mid-century decades, they grew in production of black & white negative film and x-ray materials, providing Spanish photographers with an affordable option to imported films. The company achieved a modicum of success and, at times, employed as many as 270 people in the 40,000 square-meter facility. By the 1990s, their x-ray films were being exported all over Europe and even to hospitals in the USA, exporting accounted for 65% of their production.


Photo by Lance Aram Rothstein, shot on this Valca film in October 2014.

Surprisingly, this is one film company who can’t blame their closure on the digital death-knell. According to some accounts, Valca’s ultimate demise was due entirely to the shareholders and mismanagement of their bankruptcy and reorganization which started in 1991.  Re-structuring can be a good thing for some companies, as we have seen with Ilford, AGFA, and (as yet to be proven,) Kodak. But it seems that the law firms and government agencies involved in this shuffle were not terribly interested in seeing Valca re-emerge to compete in the international market. There have even been rumors that government negativity toward their Basque heritage may have played a part in the downfall. Regardless, by January 1992 Valca’s bankruptcy entailed liabilities of 2,500 million pesetas (or about 15 million Euros) due to more than 600 creditors.

No matter what their intricate, financial problems were, it seems that “lack of demand” was not an issue, and their orders were as strong as ever when they were finally forced closed their doors in 1993, a good ten years before digital SLR cameras became affordable. While this was terrible news for fans of photographic film, it was much worse for the local community. After four decades, Valca had not only built a company, they had formed an extended working family in the Mena Valley and as the scores of employees walked out of the factory gates for the last time, the unemployment rate in the valley rose from 8% to 30%.

According to a 1993 Spanish newspaper report by Sara García Calle in El País:

On Friday, July 2 (1993,) as Inmaculada Arnaiz, 43, was collecting her belongings after 19 years at her administrative position at Valca, the FAX machine was busy spitting out a new order for Valca x-ray film from a medical association in Switzerland. (paraphrased from the Spanish text.)

After an extensive search, I’ve finally pinpointed the location and you can now check-out this Google Street View Map where you can still clearly see the “VALCA” logos on the bottom of the rusted entry gates just steps from the emerald waters of the Cadagua river.


Screen-grab from Google, click the photo to visit via Street View.


It’s not easy to find information on this film, but here are some of the emulsions I have seen in my search around the interwebs.

Many of the later packaging elements are very similar to Ilford branding, and I have heard there was also an Ilford factory in Spain so there may be some connection there.

Valca Sheet Film Autographica – Panchromatica Antihalo
Valca Sheet Film Retrato V Orthochromatic
Valca Sheet Film Retrato VV Panchromatic
Valca Sheet Film Retrato ES Panchromatic
Valca Diapositiva Dura
Valca Cine-Film Fine Grain Positive
Valca HH 27 – ASA 400
Valca HH 29 – ASA 400 (sheet film, 35mm, 120)
Valca F 22 – ASA 125 (sheet film 9×12 cm, 35mm, 120, 620 & 126)
Valcolor 100 – (35mm & 126)
Valcolor II – (35mm, 126, 120, 110)

They also made photographic paper:

Valca B.N. -11 Broval
Valca B.N. -112 Broval
Valca B.N. -118 Broval
Valca Broval RC 111
Valca Valex Contact Paper
Valca Vival Rapido Paper

Here’s a sneek-preview of the photographic results from this rare film, and the labels I’ve made for the rolls, which are available in our Labeauratoire Shop.


While it is technically called a “fine grain positive cine-film,” it is really just a negative film designed for making positives from original movie negatives. So it gives you regular negatives when developed in B&W film developer. Of course it has gained a bit of base fog from the age and some grain as well. These examples were developed in our own Labeautoire’s Caffenol Concoction for about 15 minutes at 20°c. They were shot with my Robot Royal 24×24 camera which gives square images on 35mm film.

Below are a few links which I found particularly useful and interesting while compiling this article. Of course all these events happened more than 20 years ago, and are mostly documented in a language in which I am not fluent, so virtually everything I’ve written is paraphrased from loosely-translated Spanish reports, and I must credit the original journalists and thank them for their efforts.

Magnificent Urbex-style photography of the abandoned factory by Alfonso Batalla.

Valca: dos décadas de película… velada.”  by J.C.R. – May 7, 2013 – Article in El Correo del Burgos

El valle de Valca.” by Sara García Calle – July 7, 1993 – article in El País

La triste historia de Valca, una historia española que terminó mal.” – 7/7/2013 – from EFE Futuro,with great historic video from the blog of Txema Ruiz.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this exhaustive report. Feel free to look-up our Valca Film page in our Labeauratoire Online Film Shop if you’d like to try some of this rare film, as WordPress is not the place for commerce links.

Adios! And Happy Shooting!

Lance Aram Rothstein 10/2014

La Biennale Friday Highlights

Just a few quick highlights from our first day at the 55th Art Biennale in Venice.
We woke up late as usual, not good when trying to cram in as much art as possible. I’ll include many, many more examples and other artists in my comprehensive review later next week.
But for now, here’s a glimpse of what we encountered
Our first stop was at The Museum of Everything where we had nice coffee & cakes before seeing the magnificent paintings of Italian “Outsider” artist Carlo Zinelli in their back garden:

Then we moved quickly over to the Giardini where we hit the pavilions of Spain, Belgium & Holland before entering the main exhibition hall.

Lara Almarcegui at the Spanish Pavilion. (above)
J.M. Coetzee curates Berlinde De Bruyckere at the Belgian Pavilion. (above)
And Mark Manders presents a
Room with Broken Sentence in the Dutch Pavilion. (above)
“Outsider Artists” or Art Brut, was a major component of The Encyclopedic Palace (this year’s theme.) there were many intriguing works in Giardini’s main exhibition hall.
Above, Jack Whitten’s large abstract painting hangs behind 387 model houses presented by Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser.

And the re-imagined tarot cards of Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris (above) are very striking.

I’ve so much more to show and discuss from this part of the exhibition so keep an eye out for my comprehensive review next week.

Popping into the Finnish Pavilion gave us a look into the wooden mind of Antti Laitinen. (above)

At the U.S. Pavilion, Sarah Sze has transformed the entire building into her “Triple Point,” a conglomeration including thousands of objects, both natural, commercial, and faux that stagger the mind. (below)

20130817-024305.jpgAs the Giardini was about to close, we dashed into the Venezuelan pavilion (below) and were really excited to see that they had chosen to highlight “Urban Art” from their fine tradition of graffiti artists.

After being herded out the gates of Giardini, I headed over to Arsenale, which was open till 9pm, to get a head start on tomorrows coverage.
Marino Auriti’s model plan for his Encyclopedic Palace of the World greets you as you enter the main exhibition hall at the Arsenale.

Nearby are photography exhibits by several different photographers. One of the most interesting ones is a series of mind boggling, early aerial shots by Swiss photographer and balloonist Eduard Spelterini, like this image above, showing the city of Cairo in 1904!

One of the next things that astounds the brain is an entire room filled with 207 pages of illustrations by notorious American comic book artist R. Crumb. The Book of Genesis!

and then this happened!
The Japanese artist Shinichi Sawada, who suffers from severe autism, creates these intricate clay sculptures that seem to have appeared from another dimension. (above) An entire menagerie is on display here.

One room not to be missed is filled with Venitians. (above) Polish artist Pawel Althamer cast the faces and hands of dozens of actual local Venetians in plaster and then used grey plastic to represent their bodies in his sculptural installation called, you guessed it, “Venitians.”

One of my favorite discoveries of the day was a wall of large scale collages (above) by German artist Albert Oehlen. He uses the familiar language of mass media and advertising to create an interesting assembly of juxtaposed imagery.

And just after viewing these works, the bells began to sound and I was instructed, in several languages, to head for the exit.

So that’s a cursory glance at some of the great work from Friday’s wanderings. As I stated before, I’ve got so much more to show and discuss, so keep an eye out for my more comprehensive reviews next week, which will include many individual reports on some of the other exhibits and more in-depth info on the ones covered here.

Ciao for now! See you tomorrow.


PX No.539

PX No.539, a photo by LANCEPHOTO on Flickr.

reblogged from http://picturecrossing.blogspot.com/

picturecrossing No.539 (SX No.450) A torn sign on a gate in front of a graffiti wall along Invalidenstrasse in Berlin, Germany.

CAMERA: Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 SE – c.1978
FILM: Polaroid 600 (expired 9/2006)

LEFT:PX No.539 was left in Barcelona on 12/29/12 on small post in the center of the Labyrinth Park of Horta. (see photo below)

PX No.539 (left in Barcelona)

See more at: www.picturecrossing.com

C215 at Montana Gallery Barcelona

C215 at Montana Gallery Barcelona


If you weren’t lucky enough to catch this C215 show at the Montana Gallery in Barcelona before February 2, 2013, well… it’s too late now.  But lucky for you, I WAS able to go and I photographed much of the brilliant work on display there. I waited until the show was over on this one because I didn’t want to give away the goodies for those who were planning to attend.


C215 exhibit at Montana Gallery Barcelona 12/2012.

I first happened across C215’s work while roaming the back fondamentas of Venice in 2009. At the time, I’d never seen such a distinctive stencil painting out on the street and it led me to research this brilliant Parisian artist and his work.


C215 stencil in Venice 12/2009.

C215 Venice-6783s

C215 stencil in Venice 12/2009.

While C215 (Christian Guémy) has been a street artist for more than 20 years, his signature stencil technique really evolved into its own style after 2006 and has been progressing ever since. Most people know him for his intricate portraits of street people: the homeless, orphans, laborers, the poverty-stricken denizens of desperation. While on the surface, it may appear to be an image of someone who looks down and out, upon closer examination they often also seem to be brimming with unbridled joy.


C215 stencil on the streets of Barcelona 12/2012.

But there’s much more than that in his big bag of tricks. Lately you can see more lovers, animals, and even mythological figures in his work.


C215 painting on rusted metal on display at Montana Gallery 12/2012.


Large C215 painting on display at Montana Gallery 12/2012.


Detail of C215 painting on display in Montana Gallery 12/2012.

This show included a variety of works by the artist. Many on wooden boards which gave a nice added texture to the paintings. Some even had tiny hand-crank music boxes attached to them giving each one its own analog soundtrack to be performed by the viewers themselves.


C215 paintings at Montana Gallery 12/2012.


Detail of C215 painting with music box at Montana Gallery 12/2012.

There was also a strong series of works done on street/construction signs. These paintings made great usage of the saturated yellow and stark black of the signs allowing the artist’s sharp details to stand out.


C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.


Detail of C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.

In addition to beautiful portraits, these sign paintings included some political and more serious works.


C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.

(notice the “Cash for Your Warhol stencil just below this painting?)

C215 also selected some works tackling the battles of drug addiction and incorporating some very strong phrases.


C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.


C215 installation “Buy Art Not Cocaine” at Montana Gallery 12/2012.

One break-away piece was this installation appearing to be “stencilled” by cocaine on a mirror.

C215 often works on what he calls “urban furniture” like mailboxes and such. There were several of these pieces in the show, embellished by extending the paint onto the walls themselves as he did with most of the items at this exhibition.


C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.


C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.

One of the larger works in the show was this “Summer of Love Music Festival” painting on wooden planks.


C215 painting at Montana Gallery 12/2012.

So, all together, a fairly small but very strong exhibition highlighting some of the many different styles of this versatile artist. C215 is one of the most prolific artists out there today and would likely make most people’s top 25 list.  So keep a lookout for his work. It often blends right into it’s environment, and that fits right in with the artist’s intentions.

“I try to interact with context, so I place in the streets elements and characters that belong especially to the streets.” – quoted from C215’s Facebook page.

On my way to the exhibition at The Montana Gallery in Barcelona, I walked right past this piece without even noticing it until my wife pointed it out.


C215 painting on the streets of Barcelona 12/2012.

And when possible, be sure to get up close and personal with his work. The details don’t disappoint.


Detail of C215 painting on the streets of Barcelona 12/2012.

all photos and text © Lance Aram Rothstein for Labeauratoire.


C215 official flickr stream / website

C215 Facebook Fan Page

Christian Guemy’s Instagram feed

Montana Gallery Barcelona


On the Street in: BARCELONA

On the Street in: BARCELONA

We had a nice visit to Barcelona, Spain for Christmas break. Our first time there. I spent a lot of time working on my own stuff to post on the streets there which you can see at rayjohnsonfanclub.com . But as always I took some time to capture whatever I came across in my meandering, touristic travels.

First up is a piece I assisted on, by friend Mimi the Clown at Pl. les 3 Xemeneies in the Poble Sec neighborhood along Para-lel.


Mimi the Clown in Barcelona.


Mimi the Clown in Barcelona.

While there I came across MOHΔK just starting a large wall piece.


MOHΔK at work in Barcelona.

Here’s her photo showing how it turned out after 2 days of solid work. Click it for more by her.

This photo © MOHΔK. Click it for more by her.

Also in Pl. les 3 Xemeneies were some more large works. Here’s a nice piece by Marina Capdevila working around an odd hole in the wall.


Marina Capdevila in Barcelona.

On the same wall is this gripping work by The Dulk & Sebas.


The Dulk & Sebas in Barcelona.

Not to be outclowned here’s another wall there by BETA1.


BETA1 in Barcelona.

Moving on to the area around the improvised skatepark in front of MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona).

Here’s the first piece I saw there by the prolific artist C215. Unfortunately scrawled over.  I was hoping to come across more of his work on the street considering he had an exhibition going on at Barcelona’s Montana Paint Shop Gallery through 2/2/2013. (come back soon for my full review of that show with lots of photos.)


C215 in Barcelona.

Here’s the only other one of his street pieces I saw on this trip, just down the street from the gallery where his show was on over near the Arc de Triomf. (my handmade sticker seen underneath it.)


C215 & Ray Johnson Fan Club in Barcelona.

Back near the museum we came across some good work while looking for a good spot to eat.


Fresh Fake by someone from Fatal Fake Club / Crew? FatalFakers


Spaghetti & Meatballs? by IESK in Barcelona.


A nice unsigned paste-up of a blue unicorn / horse head or chess piece knight?


“Color Flies” up since 2010 by Alain81


Unsigned Black & White on Red stencil of a boy holding a pearl? Up since at least June 2012.


A couple of strange pieces up directly across from MACBA. Jaws / Shark and some superheroes?


Happy Face bomb and a beautiful stencil by AliCè: Alice Pasquini.

Unfortunately, the nicest piece I saw in Barcelona was by someone I have not yet been able to identify.  This piece was put up directly across the entrance from MACBA. A large grid with dozens of tiny faces painted on single squares of toilet paper.  On white tape it was titled “Caras de Barcelona” (Faces of Barcelona) And on another strip it is signed with something that looks like “aléj” ??? I couldn’t find any reference to any artist working this way. Help me out if you know who did this unique piece.


“Caras de Barcelona”


“Caras de Barcelona”

I photographed these on 26 December, and when I returned 3 days later the pieces of paper had all been burned. This area ia a skatepark so I assume the bored kids decided to take a lighter to each face individually. I doubt the artist did this intentionally.  I actually like the result as an evolution of what happens to art on the streets.


“Caras de Barcelona” (burned)


“Caras de Barcelona” (burned)

One day we took a side trip up to Montserrat. A beautiful cathedral at the monastery there. I caught this Bunbuns 2006 sticker by Mattt Baay on a railing on my way out. Up since 2006??? Nice spot!


Bunbuns 2006 sticker in Monserrat

Now back to the Poble Sec area where we had rented an apartment.


A Dog with heart by RESKO.


Another piece I can’t quite make out. Is it “Joa” ? and seems to say “Lugaty x Sins.” – Any info???


Double shot of Mister Pencil / Monsieur Crayon


It seems this triptych by Dyox & Jaik Spayk has been up for nearly 3 years at least.

Our last day we headed to Barceloneta beach. Only there for a quick lunch so this funny little cow sticker was the only thing I came across there.


Cows sticker Barceloneta Beach.

And I’m not sure it’s considered Street Art, but along the beach there’s many people making very elaborate sand castles & sculptures. Most of them have a hat or bucket out to collect money. I wish I’d gotten some better shots of them. Some were quite amazing.


Sand sculpture Barceloneta Beach.

So that’s about it for this “On the street” segment. I’ll be completing a long post on the C215 exhibition on the next few days. And I’ll be posting more of my own work done while in Barcelona soon as well.
Adios! ~ Lance

frame #10 – Urban deStijl – Barcelona, Spain.  – CAMERA: Olympus XA3 (1985)  – FILM: 35mm Polaroid 200 Def1 (expired 2002) DATE: 12/26/2012


Ray Johnson Fan Club in Barcelona (chapter 1)

Relationship LX - "YES SIR I CAN compromise MY insatiable spirit"

Do you LIKE me? www.facebook.com/rayjohnsonfanclub

My 60th collage: Relationship LX – “YES SIR I CAN compromise MY insatiable spirit” was completed and posted on December 28, 2012 in Barcelona Spain. It was made using the double album cover from the record “Yes Sir I Can Boogie.”
Yes Sir I Can Boogie (Collage LX)

This hand cut-and-paste collage took about 9 hours to complete. It was made using only trash found on the streets of Barcelona. Some of the notable items of trash include; halo rays from gum wrappers, black cat russian candy wrapper, empty pill packet, phone case receipt, automobile impound notice, scene from Call of Duty ad, Chupa Chup lollypop holder, part of a WINston cigarette pack and tax stamp, 100% natural ingredient badge from packet of crisps, ticket stub from Sagrada Familia, & clipping from Ikea flyer, clipping from a KFC packet, map showing the grounds of the Montserrat Abbey, dot-matrix computer paper edge, part of an “ONCE” charity lottery card, clippings from a Justin Bieber concert flyer, part of a Desigual 5€ coupon, background of a the Spanish stock market report, etc, etc,…

I left this on 12/28/12, posted on the glass encasement in the center of the skatepark in front of MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) for anyone to enjoy (or destroy…)

Relationship LX (left in Barcelona)


I also posted some stickers while there:


I use only trash and found items to collage these handmade, signed & numbered stickers. They are made to compliment my larger works which in which I use trashy paperback book covers, record & magazine covers, posters, postcards and other mass-produced media as a base for my hand-cut & paste collages, which I usually leave out on the streets for anyone to enjoy (or destroy.)

RJFC Sticker #5 posted in Barcelona.

Ray Johnson Fan Club Sticker #5
Completed in December 2012 while visiting Barcelona, Spain. This sticker was posted on 12/26/2012 just outside of MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona).
sticker #5 posted in Barcelona

Ray Johnson Fan Club Sticker #6

Ray Johnson Fan Club Sticker #6

completed 12/2012 – posted the same day on a WC stall outside Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral in the park across Carrer de Sardenya in Barcelona.

sticker #6 posted in Barcelona


SEE MORE OF MY WORK AT: www.rayjohnsonfanclub.com

Come back soon for (Chapter 2)