This conference, organised inside the framework of the exhibition The Poetics of Democracy. Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition, centres on the imaginary of the Transition period in Spain via leading figures with specific artistic and activist experience of transitional counterculture, as well as current researchers and artists. Therefore, it sets out to explore, via testimonies, the accounts and reactivated aesthetic and political devices from the Transition, paying heed to their emancipatory, break-away and counter-factual capacities. Taking the idea of the abduction of imagination – that is, poetic, libidinal or pharmacological rapture — a collage of diverse perspectives is laid out and has the capacity to show the aesthetic energy surging through that time period, working as a living archive with relevance today.
The conference is grounded in the ideas of transhistorical and polyphonic dialogue manifested in a series of short critical and artistic interventions angled at the different vectors of rupture and guiding principles from the imaginary of the Transition. On one side, it analyses the period’s mediums and artistic and communication tools in the fullest sense, from suburban music, ephemeral publications, independent theatre, visual arts, local celebrations, experimental poetry, alternative spaces, photojournalism and underground cinema. And on the other, it delves into the era’s new areas of politicisation, i.e. feminisms, outsiders, dissidents, psychiatric patients, “dangers to society”, different experiences of self-management, leading to the construction of an alternative citizenry, and the upsurge in disciplinary Francoist and post-Francoist devices – prison, the family, public order…
Through a review of such experiences of prominent transitional collectives and certain hubs of countercultural exchange – for instance the bookshop LaSal in Barcelona and the La Vaquería bar in Madrid – Abductions of Memory also considers the scattered archive of Iberian countercultures and the fate of many of their leading figures, members of a generation dominated by youth mortality, held in the clutches of heroin, AIDS and the prison regime, and invoked by this poetic exercise to reconstruct citizen memory.
Elsa Plaza is an illustrator, writer and professor of Art History at the University of Barcelona. She has been part of numerous research groups working on strands of feminist theory and is the author of an array of articles and essays on aesthetics, art theory, memory, biological temporality and women, published in Revista d’Art, Matèria, Histeria, Body-Art and Duoda, among other specialist journals. Her writing most notably includes the novel El cielo bajo los pies (Marlow, 2009), about Enriqueta Martí, accused of multiple murders and trading children in Barcelona at the turn of the twentieth century.
Emilio Sola holds a PhD in History from the Complutense University of Madrid and is a professor at the University of Alcalá de Henares. He is regarded as one of the foremost representatives of Spanish youth and literary counterculture by way of markedly libertarian ludic-cultural initiatives, such as the La Vaquería bar in Madrid and the La Banda de Moebius publishing house, with which he published his poetry collection La soledad, los viajes, el mar, la amnistía (1976), and other works. He is also the author of some of the best documented books on the history of the Mediterranean and relations with Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Berta del Río. Cultural researcher, documentalist and journalist. She studied PhD at Princeton University, with a thesis on theatrical forms and dissidence in the Spanish Transition (1968-1992). At the same time, she coordinates the project Voces y archivos del teatro independiente valenciano (Voices and Archives of Independent Valencian Theatre, 1970–1978) at the Valencia CulturArts Centre of Theatre Documentation. In 2018 she co-directed the documentary Com una família: cent anys de música I autogestió al Puig. She has published in academic journals such as Ínsula y Kamchatka, as well as in generalist media such as Público, Europa Press, La Directa and La Marea.
Esteban Pujals is a poet, translator and professor of English Literature at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He stands out for his role in activating poetry in the 1970s, and is the author the poetry books Blanco nuclear (Diputación de Málaga, 1986), Juegos de artificio (Diputación de Málaga, 1987) and La lengua radical. Antología de la poesía estadounidense contemporánea (Gramma, 1992). Furthermore, he has written articles in magazines and books on the relationship between poetry and the visual arts, and has translated T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (1990) and Lyn Hejinian’s My Life (2011), among other works.
Llorenç Soler is a film director and TV producer specialised in the field of documentary. His filmography primarily focuses on social issues, and includes Gitanos sin romancero (1976), Francesc Boix, un fotógrafo en el infierno (2000) and Del roig al blau (2005). He is the author of different books on film and TV theories and techniques, for instance La televisión, una metodología para su aprendizaje (Gustavo Gili, 1988) and La realización de documentales y reportajes para televisión (CIMS, 1998), and works as a teacher, running courses and giving seminars, primarily on documentary.
Anna Turbau is a photojournalist who specialises in social issues. The photographs she took of Barcelona’s Chinatown in 1975 brought her into contact with the marginalised city hidden by Francoism and was the trigger that saw her devote her work to photography. In 1976, she moved to Galicia to document the social struggles of the Galician people, and the documentary La mirada de Anna (, 2009), by Llorenç Soler, compiles, through her photos, memories and testimonies – an unofficial version of the Transition in Galicia.
Gonzalo García Pelayo is a film-maker, music producer, radio personality, TV presenter and professional gambler. His filmography includes Manuela (1976), Vivir en Sevilla (1978), Intercambio de parejas frente al mar (1978), Corridas de alegría (1982), Niñas (2014) and Todo es de color (2015); and the triptych Sobre la marcha, Niñas 2 and Mujeres heridas, shot simultaneously in 2016 and streamed on the internet. In 2014, the National Gallery of Jeu de Paume in Paris devoted a three-week series to his work, entitled: VIV(R)E LA VIE! Symphonie underground. Le cinéma de Gonzalo García Pelayo.
Alberto Berzosa is a researcher, essayist, curator and teacher. His work focuses on the relationship between image and politics, with a sharp focus on the pre- and post-Transition context. His publications include Cámara en mano contra el franquismo. De Cataluña a Europa, 1968-1982 (Al Margen, 2009) and Homoherejías fílmicas: Cine homosexual subversivo en España en los años setenta y ochenta (Brumaria, 2014). He curated the exhibition Madrid activismos (1968-1982) and is a member of the research group Cruising the 1970s-CRUSEV.
El Cubri is the artistic name of a comic artist’s collective made up of draughtsmen Pedro Arjona and Saturio Alonso and scriptwriter Felipe Hernández Cava. Among their most political and social works are Luis Candelas, Sombras, El que Parte y Reparte se Queda con la Parte, Francografías and Tal como éramos.
Ana Penyas is a graphic illustrator who holds a diploma in Industrial Design and a degree in Fine Arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. In 2016, she won the VII Catálogo Iberoamericano Ilustra Award and, in 2018, the Fnac-Salamandra Graphic International Graphic Novel Award, enabling her to publish her first graphic novel Estamos todas bien (We Are All Good), which reclaims the historical memory of the Spanish Transition from a feminist perspective. The novel won Spain’s National Comic Award in 2018.
César Lorenzo Rubio holds a PhD in History from the University of Barcelona. His main subject of research focuses on social movements in the penal sphere. He is the author of Cárceles en llamas. El movimiento de presos sociales en la Transición (Virus Editorial, 2013), and collaborated on the work El siglo de los castigos. Prisión y formas carcelarias en la España del siglo XX (Anthropos, 2013).
Rafael Huertas holds a degree in Medicine from the Complutense University of Madrid, has an honorary doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires, and is a professor of Research at CSIC. He is the author of Otra historia para otra psiquiatría (Xoroi Edicions, 2017), among other works, and has coordinated a number of collective books, such as Psiquiatría y antipsiquiatría en el segundo franquismo y la Transición and Políticas de salud mental y cambio social en América Latina (Catarata, 2017). Moreover, he has served as director of the Department of History of Science at CSIC’s History Institute and been a member on the Executive Board of the European Association for the History of Psychiatry.
Lulú Martorell is a producer and screenwriter. She has worked in a wide array of media, both audiovisual and written, and has made a number of documentaries, for instance Pobres, pobres, que els donguin pel cul (2007), directed with Albert Pla, on the poet Pepe Sales (1954–1994); or the more recent 30 años positivos (2018), on the history of the mural that pop artist Keith Haring painted in Barcelona’s El Raval in 1989, the year before he died of AIDS.
David Cortés Santamarta is an art historian. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the work of Víctor Mira, and in the Museo Reina Sofía he has organised Samuel Beckett. Work for Cinema and Television (2006), With and Against Cinema. Around May’68 (2008) and The Image of Insurgence. Anonymous and Collective Cinema from May ‘68 (2018). Furthermore, he has edited the books George Benjamin (OCNE, 2005) and Sofia Gubaidulina (OCNE, 2009), and his essays have featured in the collective books Hans Werner Henze. Komponist der Gegenwart (Henschel, 2006), Henze. Phaedra. Ein Werkbuch (Wagenbach, 2007) and Música y cine (OCNE, 2010).
Víctor Lenore is a music journalist. He is the author of Indies, hipsters y gafapastas. Crónica de una dominación cultural (Capitán Swing, 2014) and Espectros de la movida: por qué odiar los años 80 (Akal, 2018) and wrote about music in the collective book CT o la Cultura de la Transición. Crítica a 35 años de cultura española (2012). He has also worked as a screenwriter on Mapa Sonoro (La2) and has contributed to El Confidencial, El País, La Razón, Rolling Stone, Playground, Minerva and Ladinamo, and other publications.
Ramsés Gallego-El Coleta is a musician who produces his work, releases his own records and makes his own music videos. He is regarded as one of the biggest names in the new wave of underground Spanish rap and his album, M.O.vida madrileña (2015), is a critique of the most broadly referred to and institutionalised part of the movement, and re-writes neighbourhood life and popular and quinqui (delinquency) culture that marked the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in Spain. He is also the protagonist of Quinqui Stars (2018), a film directed by Juan Vicente Córdoba.
(in order of intervention)
Mari Chordà and Elsa Plaza. Feminist Activism and Neighbourhood Movements Through the LaSal Space (1978–1990).
Emilio Sola. Youth and Literary Counterculture in Madrid through the La banda de Moebius Publishing House and the bar La Vaquería.
Berta del Río. Independent Theatre and Dissident Theatricalities.
Esteban Pujals. The Activation of Poetry in the 1970s.
Anna Turbau and Llorenç Soler. Documentary Language as a Social Artistic Practice.
Gonzalo García Pelayo. Film, Ways of Life and the Underground: Manuel (1975), Vivir en Sevilla (1978), Intercambio de parejas frente al mar (1979) and Corridas de alegría (1982).
Alberto Berzosa. Queer-Dyke Sexual Genealogies in Post-Francoist Cinema.
El Cubri (Saturio Alonso, Pedro Arjona and Felipe Hernández Cava). The Comic Underground, Neighbourhood and Neighbourhood Movements.
Ana Penyas. A graphic Illustrator and author of the graphic novels Estamos todas bien (2017), a feminist history of the memory of the Transition.
César Lorenzo Rubio. Social Movements in the Penal Environment. Copel (Coordinator of Prisoners’ Struggles), a union of social and common prisoners that knitted together the challenges against Francoism’s Law of Vagrants and Miscreants or the Danger to Society and Social Rehabilitation Law.
Rafael Huertas. Anti-psychiatry and Experiments with Other Non-normative Subjectivities of a Society in Transition.
Lulú Martorell. The Vampire Metaphor in Art, Music and Literature I: the Poet Pepe Sales.
David Cortés. The Vampire Metaphor in Art, Music and Literature I: the Painter Víctor Mira.
Víctor Lenore. Music and Lumpen in the Sounds of the Transition.
Ramsés Gallego-El Coleta. A Revision of Quinqui (delinquent) Aesthetics and Music from the 1970s as a Medium of Meaningful Expression for Contemporary Marginalisation.
- Organized by: Museo Reina Sofía
Conception and approach:
Chema González, head of Cultural Activities, Museo Reina Sofía; Lola Hinojosa, curator of Performing Arts and Intermedia, Museo Reina Sofía, and co-curator of the exhibition The Poetics of Democracy. Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition; and Germán Labrador, theorist, writer and co-curator of the exhibition The Poetics of Democracy. Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition.