Public (un)memory and much more: the mythologic writing about the democratic transition that took place in Spain after General Franco’s death. This is the critical focus of the video No haber olvidado nada, made between 1996 and 1997.
In their work, the authors, Marcelo Expósito, Arturo Fito Rodríguez and Gabriel Villota, appropriate footage from film, television and diverse forms of propaganda, particularly images extracted from the Spanish television series La Transición, directed by Victoria Prego in 1995. This series was a successful audiovisual story, against which No haber olvidado nada presents itself as a kind of countermodel (a “pilot” programme of a planned series, which ended up being the only one produced).
With these images the authors produce an intelligent work of (de)montage. They manage to infuse a critical and subversive edge into the myths that the established narration about the process of the Transición contain in our mass culture and collective imaginary: the burial of the Generalísimo is set against the propagandist images distributed by the government during 1992, the year in which numerous ostentatious celebrations took place in Spain (Fifth Centenary of Columbus’ arrival in the American continent, the Expo in Seville...); interviews with Cecilia and José Bartolomé, Eduardo Subirats and Juan Ramón Capella (filmmakers and political philosophers). In addition, the fragments of texts on screen manage to reveal the symbolic and political structure around which a specific architecture of power was built. This is an architecture inherited from the postwar period and Francoism, and whose continuity was made possible due to the more or less imposed silences, oblivions and (self)censorship during the Transición.
With this piece, which is over 50 minutes long, the authors accomplish an act of negation of the institutional narratives, something which could be defined as a “revitalisation of memory”: an exercise in which art can become a tool capable of helping us see in another way, a more profound and perhaps more rigorous way. This primordial link between the artistic project and the impulse of memory represents the will to restore what has been excluded, to illuminate the shadow areas. Within the proposal of these three videomakers, the “artistic” is not a formal game, but rather an attempt to readapt our usual ways of “seeing” things, to attack, via its own imaginary and representations, the institutional formulation of the past and the present.
Edition: Cristina Arrázola-Oñate