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The future was when?

Patricia Esquivias


“In The Future Was When?, Patricia Esquivias delicately unveils the tiles of the entrance halls in the neighborhoods of Chamberí and Castellana in Madrid, but also those she finds and collects during her travels in Galicia, and most of all, the tiles that cover the subway in Madrid. In this video, time and the idea of progress are once again of prime importance in the idiosyncratic construction of commu-nities, as Esquivias compares how the tiled surfaces of the sub-way have been treated in New York and Madrid. She establishes a parallelism between herself and Susan Brown, an artist who was commissioned by the New York subway to restore its deteriorated mosaics, as for those in charge it was important to conserve the subway’s original tiling. For them, “the future was yesterday”: modernity resides in the preservation of the past. On the other hand, throughout the eighties and nineties, the damaged tiling in Ma-drid was repaired by substituting the broken tiles with new ones of a similar color, creating the new, irregular abstract designs that caught Patricia’s eye as a teenager. Nevertheless, a certain desire to modernize the subway in the noughties resulted in the Madrid subway stations being covered with new, colored, laminated aluminum sheets. Because in Spain, unlike in the United States, the future does not reside in the reparation of the past but in a modernity that looks ahead without revising its origins. Once again, ideology seeps in through the tiles, through the need to build a material reality that will conform to a way of being in the world, and vice-versa: this construction, as a stage set that normalizes a specific reality, produces –and continues to produce– a particular ideology. A seasoned viewer in 2009 might have also noticed that the anecdote of the subway tiles pointed to a conflict that had been triggered by the approval of the Spanish Historical Memory Law, a controversy that continues today. In this law, the past is repaired through the recognition of the rights of those who suffered persecution or violence during the Civil War, the post-war era, or the entire dictatorship”.

Pablo Martínez: “El arte del puzzle” in A veces decorado. Madrid: CA2M, 2016

Technical datasheet

  • Title: The future was when?
  • Direction: Patricia Esquivias
  • Production: 2009.
  • Duration: 00:19:51
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Original format: Mini DV
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD - Quicktime
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright