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El año en que el futuro acabó (comenzó)

Marcelo Expósito


The year in which the future ended (began) (2007) responds to the thirtieth anniversary commemoration of the first democratic general elections held in Spain after the end of Franco's regime. It does so by questioning the official account of Spain’s process of democratisation, supposedly culminating in these June 1977 elections, which could thus be seen as a key ritual moment in the establishment of a democratic system built on the basis of the gradual stifling of all democratic activity outside or critical of the absolute, exclusive centrality that our political regime gives to the delegational rite of the vote and the imperative of “consensus”.

The video is structured around a hypothesis and an experiment. The hypothesis: that official accounts of the transition to democracy are largely naturalised through a form of visual representation based on over-codified images that, paradoxically, increasingly show less and at the same time increasingly hinder the possibility of understanding the historical events that they supposedly represent. The experiment: what happens if the representation of 30 years of history doesn’t stop in 1975 (General Franco’s death) but extends back 70 years, compressed into a barely 10-minute long visual countdown? The result is a non-verbal artefact based on a strongly anti-naturalistic use of documentary and archival images, which, through "involuntary representations" and non-discursive mechanisms that are closer to dream logic than to a discursive or narrative account (condensations, displacements, associations, reverberations), reveals some of the contradictions, problems, subtle silencing and even terrifying evocations of our political and social processes of the 20th century.

The end of the countdown unexpectedly brings us to the present and to one of the social movements that is most hard-hitting in the way it questions the belief that the official account of the transition to democracy adequately brings closure to the present's relation to the past: by sharing an oceanic wealth of work, knowledge, skills, memories and affections in order to recover those who died during the Civil War or who suffered reprisals at the hands of Franco's regime in the early post-war period, and who are still buried in their hundreds, anonymously, inhumanely and without dignity, throughout the Spanish territory.

In the introduction to the video, a Brechtian reflection by Heiner Müller suggests that only on the condition that we "work" on images can they be an instrument of memory, since memory cannot be expected to arise from them through mere contemplation. Having reached this point, the historical loop that this video puts forth closes with the admonishment that opens the 1900 book through which Sigmund Freud exposed the mechanisms of dream work: to understand our nightmares, we must "stir up the underworld".

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