SPAIN: Still Cause is a visual art project which I began in 2010 focused on the struggle for justice and recognition which is ongoing in Spain post Franco. It has so far comprised of an exhibition, small publication, a living memorial, talks, and this blog.
I am now working on a film which will feature first-hand testimonies from people directly affected by the Franco dictatorship.
The project was inspired by the photojournalist Gerda Taro and her work during the Spanish Civil War.
Argentinian judges, Norwegian electricians, New York charities and
British historians have all contributed to making history more visible
Art has also played a part in bringing Spain’s historical
memory movement onto the international stage. Scottish artist Christine
Jones found inspiration for her 2014 exhibition, ‘Spain: Still Cause’,
in the uncompromising work of Gerda Taro. A Jewish emigree from Nazi
Germany, Taro was killed on assignment when she was crushed by a tank in
Brunete, west of Madrid, in 1937. Although just 26 years old when she
died, Taro had already built up a substantial portfolio of gritty images
of the Spanish Civil War during her time shadowing Republican troops.
Still largely unknown, Taro’s work is direct, disturbing and shocking -
and deserves to be seen by anyone interested in the conflict.
‘Spain: Still Cause’, Jones tells me, was in part
designed to draw attention to Taro’s photography. The exhibition
consists of 10 delicate yet powerful sketches depicting some of the
people Jones met in Spain throughout 2011, when an Arts Council grant
enabled her to travel the country researching the historical memory
“The subject is vast and complex,” she says, “and I
wanted to share, through the drawings, what my experience of it was,
deferring to the academics for the historical facts.” The exhibition,
which Jones intends to develop further this year, was run in Scotland,
but positive feedback came from all over the UK as well as Spain, from
people interested in the Spanish Civil War and from those wanting to
show solidarity with “people-led social movements”.
As a corollary to the sketches, Jones also designed a
brass plaque bearing the following inscription: “For those who fought in
Spain, defending the ideals of justice and liberty against the Franco
regime during the Civil War and the dictatorship.” ‘En Memoria’ is a
fluid, interactive piece of art: participants photograph themselves
holding the plaque, and the photos are then submitted to the memorial’s
“Echoing the act of holding signs and pictures of loved
ones at demonstrations in Spain, this work is part memorial and part
protest, resisting the Pacto del Olvido,” explains Jones. She left the
memorial in Barcelona at the end of 2013, from where it started a
journey around Spain that is still in progress: so far, over 400 people
have participated. En Memoria’s journey is helping to break the silence
in Spain about the Civil War and its troublesome, divisive legacy.
That is something that the international community - from
Argentinian judges to Norwegian electricians, New York charities to
English historians - robustly supports Spaniards in doing.