Opposite the presentism that characterises our era — a now incapable of resolving the traumas of the past and of imagining a horizon of expectations for a future that seems uncertain — the construction of a still latent ideal past displaces utopias in their plan to imagine alternatives to a better world. The exploration of forms and their relationship to ideology allows the groups of artists assembled in this room to recover a past repressed by official amnesia.
Via an anthropological and sociological approach to the analysis of the image, architecture and landscape, the pieces are deployed in this conflict and examine some of the issues that were disregarded during the Transition process, such as the concepts of identity and nationalism, while at the same time questioning the archive as a transparent device and the discourses of authority that derive from major narratives, the linear and totalising narratives of modernity. The use of fiction, allowing things to be seen from another angle to understand at once a specific conflict and many others, joins the sincerity and transparency of the medium employed, which is also a message.
The strategy of unmasking the symbolic mechanisms of power depends on deconstructing representations of that power, the marks left on bodies, subjectivities and territory by the economy, ideology and politics. The lists of Ignasi Aballí and the landscapes of Bleda y Rosa, ruins from a time of conflict, address the relationships of exploitation and domination via the cultural and natural landscape. The photographic installation Imperio (o K.D.) (2013–2014), by Jorge Ribalta, is a theatre narrative that depicts Charles V from demythifying angles and contributes to distorting and “demonumentalising” the cultural field to understood how it works and its role in ideological production. In opposition to homogenous, imperial Spain, which speaks of monuments in the sense of national-state cultural constructions, the work of David Bestué represents a version of Spain that is working class, from Vallecas, porous. His pieces, or “anti-monuments”, are popular and austere forms that reproduce daily objects in a free reinterpretation of the Spanish baroque still-life with moulds obtained from found materials in walks around Madrid’s Vallecas neighbourhood. Inhabited by history, these pieces escape from the autonomy of the artwork, from pure formalism, to become relational. A further example is Loreto Martínez Troncoso’s sound sculpture, which summons the voices of exile in an utterance riddled with farewells and dedications to friends, drawing inspiration from letters to expatriate relatives in underground broadcasts from Radio España Independiente, popularly known as Pirenaica.
Popular culture also becomes a channel for the symbolic communication of modes of representation. The works of Asier Mendizabal revise the links that exist between forms and their social and political dimension, with the approach they take also mixing formal resources — the contrasts between figure and ground or part-whole in the symbology of the anarchist flag, turned into an abstract composition — and approaches from content: a way of demonstrating the contradictions between the formal language of abstraction and the ideological meanings stemming from its historic specificity. Those cultural signs with a political reach are manifested in the mountain landscape of Ibon Aranberri’s installation, resulting partially from his investigation of narrative techniques used for its representation, as mountain film. Aranberri applies the Benjaminian logic of escaping totality — and the derivative cliché — and thinking around fragments to analyse how the effects of narratives and fictions endure in time.