I am the exhumación de Franco. I’ve never been to the Valle de los Caídos before, una parte simbología de la época franquista. But here I am, looking down at his tomb. His grave simply engraved: FRANCISCO FRANCO.
Standing opposite me, ‘La señora más franquista de España’, 2018’s most unpalatable television “personalidad” of the summer. I avoid making eye contact. But I think she’s too preoccupied listening to what she thinks are the angels crying for El Caudillo.
In my head, voices try to tell their stories…en castellano…en català. They form a meta-narrative of lived historical events, naming what I assume, for some reason, to be books: Ley de la Memoria Histórica… Ghost of Franco Haunting Spain… Franco encara embruixa Catalunya… The voices repeat themselves, a melancholy chorus without a conductor: la Rambla de Santa Mónica, Ley de la Memoria Histórica, la calle Arco del Teatro, Franco encara embruixa Catalunya…
|Toledo, Spain – People – Munimara|
Someone is standing behind me. A man’s voice cuts through the soundscape in my head: “They shouldn’t have buried me. I’m not dead.”
I turn. I am suffocated by a raw, metallic smell of carmine, crimson and mahogany blood. I edge away. Reaching the open mouth of the grave, I fall backwards. And continue to fall. Through the endless darkness, I fall.
I am existing between España and Catalunya, between castellano, català and anglès.
|Barcelona, Spain – Mirror shadows – Vidar Nordli-Mathisen|
With a sickening jolt that jarred every bone in my body, I wake up (living that cliché so often appearing in films and literatura). The craving for café and cigarillos compels me to leave my bed. With the first sips of a café con leche and deep drags on a cigarillo, I start to focus on the work ahead: the translation of an artículo del arte mexicano – the depiction of casta: a hierarchical system of race classification developed by the European elite of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries.
I stare at the words on the screen, letting my mind turn back time to the Summer of 2017.
|Malaga, Spain – Illuminated – berni|
If you stand on Plaza del Castillo in Pamplona, facing the emblematic Avenida de Carlos III el Noble, you will notice an imposing and ominous presence: a building with a dome-roof with three crosses reaching towards the sky. It is el tres de agosto and I have barely lived in the city for a week after moving from Manchester, England if I recall correctly.
I walked towards it under an angry sun, determined to raise the temperature beyond the low thirties. One of my ways of exploring the cities of Spain and Italy was to simply walk towards whatever caught my attention. The square in front of this building was empty, devoid of the European and American tourists I had left behind on the Avenida. The monument, Sala de Exposiciones, was closed; coupled with the absence of any advertising for the exhibitions being held there. Those who walked by flashed disapproving looks at me as I struggled against the sunlight to find a way of photographing the structure. Not long after, I spoke with a local: “I went to the Sala de Exposiciones, but I couldn’t see when it was open or what is being exhibited,” I explained.
“It’s not open. It’s one of Franco’s buildings; it’s just called the Sala de Exposiciones. Si fuera tú, yo no diría nada sobre el momento a la gente de aquí,” my twenty-something companion warned me.
|Toledo, Spain – My friend and I – Munimara|
In fact, my visit had been to what is El Monumento a los Caídos (Monument to the Fallen): a censored ejemplo de la simbología de la época franquista and the Civil War. I had stood in the shadow of Franco without even realising it. Someone once told me that the Monumento didn’t appear on any tourist maps of the city. I’m not sure if that’s true or not.
This was not the only time I was silenced. I remember the evening of el cuatro de octubre, a bar in lo Viejo (the Old Town) of Pamplona. Small talk between myself and another man.
“Do you like living in Pamplona?” he inquired.
“Yeah,” I lied (longing for life in a much larger city had started the day I sat on Plaza del Castillo in the rain). “I like living in Spain.”
The bartender made his way over to us and fixed his eyes on me, leaning in towards me.
“Tú no vives en España. Tú vives en el País Vasco, ¿Vale? Ten cuidado con lo que digas, chicho.”
Warnings delivered with a slight smile are always the most threatening. There I was, pushed to the point of silence and self-censorship by the shadows of history.
|Madrid, Spain – Downward or upward? – Esnal Julen|
I arrived in Barcelona at the end of May 2018, escaping the dark-gray clouds of Pamplona. In making the decision to move, I admit to feeling a sense of trepidation. The Catalan Independence Referendum had occurred on 1 October 2017 (known by the acronym 1-O) with press coverage either emphasising the authorities’ use of violence against voters or the Spanish government’s position on the legality of 1-O.
|Madrid, Spain – Searching for angles – Chris Nguyen|
That recurring dream: I am at the exhumación de Franco. This time, I focus on the street names in a chorus of voices: la calle Arco del Teatro and la Rambla de Santa Mónica. As I fall, I hold on to the words in my mind.
With a sickening jolt that jarred every bone in my body, I wake up (once again living that cliché so often appearing in films and literatura). In a kind of somnambulism, I take to the streets of Barcelona. On La Rambla de Prim, I notice a crude attempt to erase the spray-painted yellow lazos (bows): a statement against el movimiento de los independentistas catalanes. I vaguely recall hearing on the news talk of ensuring “neutrality” in public spaces.
|Toledo, Spain – On the street – Munimara|
As I pass through Poblenou, a wind hurries premature autumnal leaves away to reveal some socio-political mathematics:
Quickening my pace, I eventually arrive somewhere around la calle Arco del Teatro and la Rambla de Santa Mónica. There is a door in front of me. I recognize it. El Cementerio de los Libros Olvidados: a laberinto of corridors and book shelves behind it, a place where lost, used and protected editions of all books and all of all genres have been consigned. I slip inside the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I am alone in the vast space, but not lonely. There are millions upon millions of words in which I can gain solace all around me. I could lose myself here for a thousand lifetimes.
|Bilbao, Spain – Losing it – Ismael Juan|
Not long after going inside, the spines of three books called to me. The original version – SOM TOT EPISODIS INACABATS – and the translated texts: WE ARE ALL UNFINISHED EPISODES / SOMOS TODOS EPISODIOS INACABADOS. I take all three, hold them against my chest and sit down at a small table. I begin reading:
The Festa Nacional de Catalunya or La Diada of 2018 saw about a million people take to the streets to call for independència, continuing an endless march. I saw a river flooding the streets, a fiery flow of the red-and-yellow Catalan flag and the flash of white stars: La Senyera Estelada. That day, the brooding gray clouds of the last week or so had been incinerated by the sun which had found its aggression once more.
As I walked through El Born and around the Parc de la Ciutadella, the absence of castellà in written protests was striking: català and anglès. On a street between the Parc de la Ciutadella and El Born, a line of bollards alternated between stickers in català and anglès.
I hardly speak any català and become filled with anxiety and a sense of urgency to learn. Reproaching myself for not making more of an effort, I try to rationalize with myself: I have only been here for three months. That’s no time at all. But right now, I cannot escape the feeling: I am existing between España and Catalunya, between castellano, català and anglès.
I stare at the words on the wall: Sense desobediéncia no hi ha independència (Without disobedience, there is no independence).
|Bilbao, Spain – Guggenheim – Vitor Pinto|
I have no idea how long I spent in El Cementerio de los Libros Olvidados. It was dark when I left. The night could have belonged to the same day I went in or that of uncountable days later. Exhausted, I return home. I’m so tired that I think I’ll manage to fall asleep with a handful of lorazepam. And I’m right.
|Calp, Spain – Mralia roja blue – beasty|
I am the exhumació de Franco. I’ve never been to the Valle de los Caídos before, una parteix simbologia de l’època franquista. But here I am, looking down at his tomb. His grave simply engraved: FRANCISCO FRANCO.
In my head, voices trying to tell their stories…en català. I am existing between Espanya and Catalunya, between català and anglès.
Someone is standing behind me. It’s
You turn and walk outside. I follow you. You’re standing at the end of a street, by an old lamp post decorated with a single llaço groc. I run to you.
I left after nearly ten years. And a year later, you’re the only one that I want.
The only one that these tears are for.
The only one I want to walk with in the shadow of the wind.
Ruiz Zafón, C. (2001) The Shadow of the Wind. New York: The Penguin Press. Originally published in Spanish as La sombra del viento by Editorial Planeta S.A., Barcelona.
Snapshot 1: Valencia, Spain – L’Hemisferic – Tim de Groot (Unsplash)
Snapshot 2: Toledo, Spain – People – Munimara (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 3: Barcelona, Spain – Mirror shadows – Vidar Nordli-Mathisen (Unsplash)
Snapshot 4: Malaga, Spain – Illuminated – berni (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 5: Toledo, Spain – My friend and I – Munimara (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 6: Madrid, Spain – Downward or upward? – Esnal Julen (Unsplash)
Snapshot 7: Madrid, Spain – Searching for angles – Chris Nguyen (Unsplash)
Snapshot 8: Toledo, Spain – On the street – Munimara (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 9: Bilbao, Spain – Losing it – Ismael Juan (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 10: Bilbao, Spain – Guggenheim – Vitor Pinto (Unsplash)
Snapshot 11: Calp, Spain – Mralia roja blue – beasty (Unsplash)
Cinemblem voiceover: Nathan Jackson
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies. May 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization. April 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity. April 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
CW 22 – Armenia – Mania Israyelyan
CW 23 – Poland – Pawel Awdejuk
CW 24 – Balkans – Aleksandar Protic
CW 25 – Italy – Daniela Cannarella
CW 26 – Serbia – Jelena Sekulic
CW 27 – Tajikistan – Nigina Kanunova
CW 28 – Portugal – Nuno Rosalino
CW 29 – Uruguay – Lillian Julber
CW 30 – Argentina – Javier Gomez
CW 31 – Turkey – Seyit Ali Dastan
CW 32 – India – Sanjay Ray
CW 33 – Russia – Anastasiya Zakharova
CW 34 – Canada – Maha Husseini
CW 35 – Spain – Virginia Sanmartin Lopez
CW 38 – Turkey – Peren Cakir
CW 37 – Armenia – Hayk Antonyan
CW 38 – Italy – Sara Deiana
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed