Yes, it is possible to learn about yourself and the world around you by taking selfies. This selfie project began in my hometown of Chicago with the objective of taking pictures with various landmarks throughout the city. At first I thought this was going to be a mundane project. “I have lived in Chicago all of my life and I work downtown, this is going to be boring,” I said to a friend. But as I ventured out to find these landmarks I realized I did not know more than half of them by name. I was so surprised to find out the names of monuments that I pass almost everyday like the Flamingo sculpture and Joan Miró’s statue. I came to the understanding that I knew very little of the history and culture of my own city.
Fast forward to part two of the selfie project where I had to fulfill the same guidelines of taking selfies at different monuments around the city of Barcelona not as a tourist, but a traveler. As I ventured with my group to find the locations I noticed that there are many visual similarities with the Barcelona monuments and Chicago ones. For example, the Chinatown welcome gate and the Arc de Triomf, the Antoni Gaudí statue and the bronze cow, as well as the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc and the Buckingham Fountain. I did not think I would make connections to home through monuments.
I also got to travel like a local on the buses and trains of Barcelona. Even though I felt like I was on the CTA at home I was still terrified of missing the stop like an outsider. I took notice of the differences in neighborhoods. The location of the Antoni Gaudí statue is Portal Miralles. It was a quiet neighborhood free of tourists. It reminded me of the Beverly Hills area by my house. Venturing off to Port Vell, Barcelona gave me a feeling of being at Navy Pier in Chicago. Seeing the boats as we walked along the seafront and the little food vendors had that Chicago summer touch going on.
This project taught me so much about my hometown and Barcelona. When I took a photo in front of the Miró statue in Chicago I didn’t even know he was a Barcelonian artist. When I took one in front of the Cascada fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona I learned that it is the city’s largest green space. I’m not just simply visiting these places, but now becoming more educated and appreciative of their history and culture.