Producing bodies and building memories
Notes on the video film “Plan Rosebud: on images, sites and politics of memory” (2006-2008)
“There has never been a document of culture, which is not simultaneously one of barbarism,” states Walter Benjamin in his Theses on the Philosophy of History. Under the shadow of the responsibility of these words, which are nowadays the epitaph on his grave in Portbou (Girona), Spain, I started to work with a group of people and with the production support by the CGAC (Galician Centre for Contemporary Art) in Santiago de Compostela, on Plan Rosebud in March 2006. In that period we were experiencing the commemoration of the Year of the Memory and the effervescence of the debate about the so-called Ley de Memoria Histórica (The Historical Memory Act). Spain’s Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government has declared 2006 the Year of Historical Memory and has submitted a “law of historical memory” to the country’s Congress for ratification. For the first time the mass killings committed by General Francisco Franco’s fascist regime (1939 –1975) are described as “unjust.” The law was confirmed by the parliament with a very thin margin, on the 26th December, 2007, and we attended many (well deserved) tributes to the victims that the terrorism of the Franco regime imprisoned and left unburied in the ditches. The so-called historical memory fully entered into to political and electoral agendas with an unusual intensity since the 1970s.
Our purpose, from the very beginning, was not, nevertheless, to make a documentary with a historical or informative value, nor to commemorate or encourage the new epic narratives surrounding the republican remembrance, but we tried to elaborate a critical mapping of the so called politics of memory, to investigate about the ways of transmission and/or imposition of historic memory (not lived or remembered, but transmitted and/or imposed through the different forms of the politics of memory: education, commemorations, memory sites, symbols...), and to reflect upon its different strategies and mediators in Galicia, and therefore in the Spanish state. We were focusing our attention very specially on the representation as well as on the control devices on bodies and subjectivities during the long dictatorship of the general Franco and the Transition period. Besides, we wanted to do it establishing comparisons with other European states, especially Great Britain, in order to discover which specificities and resemblances, in case there were any, Spain had in relation with its most immediate context.
*This text is part of the book "PLAN ROSEBUD: ON IMAGES, SITES AND POLITICS OF MEMORY," edited by María Ruido (CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, 2008), and also was published in Reartikulacija, nº 6. Ljubljana, 2009.