Memory

Plaça de Sant Filip Neri

Playing football in front of a bomb-damaged church, where more than 30 children were killed during the Civil War bombardment of Barcelona.

A shot set of images connected to the Spanish Civil war, shot around Barcelona while hunting for some contextual images for the State of Independence series.

Much of the political problem in Catalunya today can be traced back to the failure to properly reconcile that conflict and the subsequent fascist dictatorship that controlled Spain for more than 40 years. Rather than seeking closure and reparation for the victims (most notably those people executed under Franco as well as children forcibly separated from their parents), Spain’s transition to democracy in the 1970’s was accompanied by a pact of forgetting that left past crimes deliberately un-investigated and un-prosecuted. In the short term, this may have helped that transition, but ultimately Spain must surely confront its deeply troubled past if it is to survive as a stable, progressive and modern democratic nation in the 21st century.

Barcelona has actively removed almost all fascist symbols from the city in recent years – a move which is understandable, yet which itself still feels more like yet another act of forgetting rather than reconciliation. Meanwhile tentative attempts at beginning a national process of reconciliation that were initiated by the Zapatero government were largely halted when the right-wing PP subsequently gained power.

With the troubling European resurgence of national-populism and the far right, never has popular understanding of the continent’s recent past seemed more urgent.

 

Tomb, Montjuic.

Tomb, Montjuic.

Canon, Montjuic.

Canons on the Montjuic used against Barcelona during the siege of the city.

 

Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

Nuestra Señora del Pilar. A catholic symbol associated with the Francoist Spanish forces.

 

Gravestones

Gravestones honouring the dead in the Spanish Civil war at the Fossar de la Pedrera, Barcelona.

 

Damage from an aerial bombardment in the Spanish Civil War, Plaça de Sant Filip Neri, Barcelona.

Damage from aerial bombardment in the Spanish Civil War, Plaça de Sant Filip Neri.

 

Civil War Grave.

“He fought until the end with a smile”, Montjuic, Barcelona.

 

Canon detail, Montjuic.

Canons on the Montjuic used against Barcelona during the siege of the city.

 

All images shot on Delta 400 film with a variety of lenses and a Minolta X700 (because after nearly three months the M7 is still under repair at Leica – although on the bright side at least I found a new use for the 70-200mm that I bought as a student thirty years ago!).

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