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'Artbnb'? Spanish village offers free accommodation for sculptures

By Barry Neild, CNN
updated 3:26 AM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Every year Genalguacil, in southern Spain's Andalucia, invites artists to stay for free in exchange for an example of their work. Every year Genalguacil, in southern Spain's Andalucia, invites artists to stay for free in exchange for an example of their work.
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Spanish town where artists stay free
Mule fountain
Cats on a hot tiled roof
'Leap into the Void'
'Roots'
'Proximity and Distance'
'Plains Heads'
Biggest festival yet
Whitewashed buildings
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spanish village of Genalguacil offers free two-week stays to artists in exchange for their work
  • Biennial art festival celebrating its 12th edition this year
  • Village's streets and museum now host dozens of contemporary works

(CNN) -- As vacation deals go this one isn't bad.

The beautiful southern Spanish village of Genalguacil is offering free accommodation for more than two weeks during the summer peak season.

There's a catch of course.

The offer is open only to artists who must produce sculptures or other work during their stay, and bequeath at least one to the village.

Call it "Artbnb."

Long before Airbnb began undercutting hotels with cheap deals in other people's homes, this sleepy Andalucian community came up with it's own version.

The biennial "art encounters" festival was dreamed up in the 1990s by a local mayor hunting for ways to turn Genalguacil from a dead-end village to a genuine tourist destination.

Artists are offered cottages or other accommodation and all the materials they need to produce their work.

MORE: Spain's 7 natural wonders

Ambitious art festival

It seems to have paid off. The Andalucian village's immaculate streets of whitewashed houses -- and its contemporary art museum -- are now filled with dozens of works of art.

And the idea has reportedly inspired proposals for a similar project in Canada.

This August, to celebrate the festival's 20th anniversary, Genalguacil is hosting its most ambitious edition to date, with 10 selected artists receiving a stipend of €1,000 ($1,340) on top of their board and lodgings.

Among those selected this year is Eugenio Merino, a controversial artist whose latest exhibitions have included mannequins of dead leaders -- including Spain's General Francisco Franco -- stuffed inside refrigerators, and one of President George W. Bush in the shape of a punch bag.

This year's festival runs from July 31 to August 14.

MORE: Spanish castle to host 'Game of Thrones'

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