Under the Dwindling Surface

Carsten Kalaschnikow

2017 - Ongoing

Andalusia, Spain

In 1968 Spain was also a point of attraction for hippies. And for all those who were longing for a free lifestyle - beyond rules and conventions. Over 50 years later, there are still such enclaves.

One needs the right tires on the road to freedom. A bumpy dirt track leads to Beneficio. Signs? None. Vague directions from a local tractor driver must be enough. Suddenly there is a dusty and stony carpark. VW Buses, tents, caravans. And a stone on which "Peace and Love" is painted. That must be it.

Some live here for a few years. For one, two, ten years. Some people come here without a plan, without knowing how long they will stay.

Beneficio is not a place but an accumulation of self-constructed tiny houses, shelters, and hide-outs. Approximately 150 people live here, scattered in a valley of the Alpujarras, the wild mountains south of Granada. Below, at the entrance to the settlement, are the tents. Further up, the residents cobbled together sheds with wood, plastic sheets, and recycled materials. Even further up, there are some stone houses.

Some have more possessions, others less. Some have caravans that allow them to move quickly. They got cars, money. Some even have solar panels. Then again, other people bake cookies or bread, which they can sell on the market in the village nearby.

Overcoming conventions and currently strictly-defined boundaries, explore different social forms of living: these were the objectives of the hippie movement. The subculture began its development as a youth movement in the United States and then developed around the world. Eventually, in Europe. A lot of hippies went south, mainly towards Spain.

Beneficio is no longer a paradise for those who want to breathe a little more freely but has long been a kind of emergency shelter. A gathering place for the tired, the poor, the rejected. Those who would no longer know where to go.

Since everything is free, there don't seem to be any rules, just agreements. In Beneficio, there is no police and no judiciary that regulates social life in the enclave. New arrivals are requested to stick to the arrangements.

The people in Beneficio wanted to create a small community that lives in harmony with nature, without causing any harm, and in which everyone cares about their neighbors. However, this place is not free from the imprint of our modern, globalized, and capitalized society. Life in Beneficio is archaic in many ways. Nevertheless, there are many things its residents do not want to live without electricity, television, cell phones, or cars.

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  • Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Loula, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Jeremy, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Forest fire, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2017.

  • The Spring, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Roman, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Peter, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2017.

  • Benefico, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Benefico, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Max and Alice, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Ivan, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Ivans House, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • David, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • Chris, Beneficio, Alpujarras, 2020.

  • Benefico, Alpujarras, 2019.

  • A plantation, Beneficio, 2017.