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Things will never be the same again. All my enemies
are now my friends.
- Sidestepper, 'Walking'
There is nothing in the world as invisible as
- Robert Musil, 'Monuments'1
Almost 30 years after the death of General Francisco Franco and the end of his dictatorial regime, the last equestrian monument to the Generalísimo (in his hometown, Ferrol, Galicia) was dismantled amid much controversy, not just of the 'need to remember or need to forget' debate, but also of the few but outspoken remaining fascist supporters. The official project of forgetting has been a long and slow process in Spain, beginning almost immediately after the death of the dictator in 1975 with the streets being re-baptised with their former names, monuments destroyed and the fascist 'aesthetic' being eliminated from acceptable contemporaneous architecture and design practice. But, of course, there is no straightforward return to democracy from dictatorship, and despite the ongoing project of erasure, there is no easy way to bury the past.
On the coastline of the Basque Country, about 15km from Bilbao, sits the finished but never-active nuclear power plant, Lemoniz. In the late 1970s, during the historical period of transition from dictatorship to democracy, the site provoked a massive oppositional mobilisation of the general populace that took the form of strikes and protest demonstrations, many of which were met with police violence. In keeping with an ideological position in which ecology figured dominantly, ETA's military branch launched a series of terrorist attacks, killing Lemoniz workers and losing several militants. The kidnapping and execution on 6 February 1981 of the plant's chief engineer provoked the suspension of activities - and the first-ever
Robert Musil, 'Monuments', Selected Writings, Burton Pike (ed.), London and New York: Continuum, 1998, p.320 (originally published in German in 1936).↑
Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, London & New York: Continuum, 2004, p.39.↑
R. Musil, op. cit., p.322.↑
J. Rancière, op. cit., pp.25-26.↑
http://www.euro-senders.com/web_eng/Espanya/pbasc.htm. Last accessed 31 July 2006.↑
Ibon Aranberri, No Trees Damaged, Bilbao: Sala Rekalde, 2004.↑
Email conversation with the artist, 15 June 2006.↑
J. Rancière, op. cit., p.9.↑