You’ve probably seen photographs of the Concurs de Castells, the human tower competition held in the region of Catalonia, Spain, but photographer David Oliete got a pretty unique perspective in 2012, shooting the entire event at what appears to be a nearly aerial position. As the throngs of castellers—hundreds of men, women and even children—push forward in a claustrophobic mass to build their best human towers, biological shapes reminiscent of insects or even animal cells begin to form. Oliete shares with me via email about the competition:
The most important Human Tower Competition is called “Concurs de Castells” and it takes place in the city of Tarragona once every two years. Its XXIV edition took place during the 6th and 7th October 2012 with the participation of 32 teams from all around Catalonia and a live audience of more than 20,000 people. During the competition, the higher and difficult to build a tower is, the more points a team gets. Every human tower is usually between six and ten levels high. Teams are made of between 100 to 500 women and men. Young and light members form the top of the tower while heavier members form the base.
The “castells” have also been one of the most important cultural traditions in Catalonia for more than 200 years. “Strength, balance, courage and common sense” is their motto. In 2010, the castells were declared by UNESCO to be amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.