`The remarkable thing about monuments is that one does not notice them.
Nothing in the world is as invisible as a monument.’
Robert Musil, Diaries
Starting from the sculpture group in El Valle de los Caídos by Juan de Ávalos, this essay film proposes a critical voyage around the country with other Ávalos works as guide.
The project, which takes its subtitle from the speech Ávalos gave on his induction into the Real Academia de Extremadura de las Letras y las Artes, is a road movie in which the filmmaker seeks to lift the veil of our present aided by the poetry of social awareness. The result is a journey of initiation through “brutality in stone” (Alexander Kluge) made upon, within, against, of and from the sight of these sculptures that still stand today as grim memorials of National Catholicism.
Are these monuments marooned in the public space just funereal phantasmagoria? Are they merely shadows of the Dictator, or perhaps something more?
To rummage in the rubble of our recent past connecting layers of past and present. To pluck the petals of history with what Alain Resnais and Chris Marker described in Les statues meurent aussi as “the botany of death that we call culture.”
The goal is to fix three questions on the spectator’s retina, about memory and the need to understand the things we should consider when looking at a monument:
who should we remember?
what should we remember?
how should we remember?
Following the iconological lines proposed by Reinhart Koselleck in Memorials to the Dead and Images of Death, between Art and Politic, the film explores its subject through readings from poetic works. The poets are Begoña Abad and Niño de Elche, Antonio Orihuela, Ana Pérez Cañamares, Isabel Pérez Montalbán, David Pielfort, Manuel Vilas and Felipe Zapico.