Life and art are never separate, not even if you try to wrench them apart. It’s been a long time since I wrote in quite this way, but we are living in increasingly frightening and unsettled times. My blog is a call for preparedness, but above all for creative resistance. Finding spaces in which the mind can be free become more vital when our actual freedoms are under threat. Every act of creativity and self-care is a means of survival. Reaching out and organising is what we must do.
This new work is entitled ‘Convoy’, because the roundup has become known as El convoy de los 927 (927 being the number of Spanish exiles taken that day). Almost overnight the tiny sketch evolved into a big idea with unexpected mathematical underpinnings. Through this exploration I’ve become compelled by the idea that a number (repeated) becomes a pattern, and that this can in a powerful visual form tell us something about the inability to ‘see’ dehumanisation in the face of number.
Working with traumatic memory has consequences, and I’ve often been aware of the need to pace myself over the years. You can’t work close up with this material and not be affected. What I’ve learned in this anniversary year us that it’s incredibly hard when such a tidal wave hits your global network. I finally realised this when a friend sent me a video the other day which I just couldn’t open. Earlier in February I wept at 6am as I logged onto FaceBook with my morning coffee and viewed footage of the countless Republican Spaniards streaming towards the border. That was my family, my dearest ones. I can’t help myself, I scan the screen searching for them. It’s quite terrible. All the footage which emerges has this effect. I relive it, and the deeply painful truths that were hedged as they gave my sister and I golden summers on the beaches of Barcelona
With my art practice I witness. It’s all I can do.
The spirit of these works is nostalgic yet confrontational, employing a juxtaposition of painted and collaged elements as a means of articulating the unspoken. Buenos Días Dictador, forms a visual essay which tweaks at the invisibility cloak of Franco’s rule to ask a serious question; how can we live the life domestic in the face of violent rupture, exile and dictatorship?
Here is a short (less than 2 minutes) video with my take on the backbone to my creative practice; the concept of postmemory. First developed to describe the transmitted trauma to the children of holocaust survivors, this term is incredibly meaningful in anchoring my own experience of living with my father’s traumatic lifelong exile fromContinue reading “What is postmemory?”