LORCA 1937

George De Decker & Guido De Bruyn

Madrid, August 2011

We stroll through the great park in the heart of the city, with a collection of poems by Federico García Lorca in the one hand and a Dictaphone in the other. We approach everyone who crosses our path. Would they care to read a poem from the collection? Nobody refuses. Quite the contrary. Their enthusiasm is touching. Among our readers: a young couple from Lisbon, an old woman, a painter on a bench (who says in a by-the-way tone that he prefers Lorca’s theatre texts to his poetry), three children, a girl squatting on a balustrade, a security guard (his velvety voice contrasting sharply with the pistol on his hip). Also touching is a man who turns out to be deaf, but has lip-read our question, despite our faltering Spanish. He apologises for his high-pitched voice, saying it will do the great poet an injustice. But then he gives us a beautiful eulogy to Lorca, who is very much still alive here, even though he has meanwhile been dead for seventy-five years.


Víznar, August 1936

At the start of the Spanish Civil War Federico García Lorca (left-wing and homosexual, a double taboo in those days) was arrested by General Franco’s nationalist supporters. A few days later he was cold-bloodedly executed by firing squad in Víznar, close to his native Granada. His body was dumped in a mass grave. It was never found.


Guernica, April 1937 

To break the resistance of the Republicans, Franco had the town of Guernica bombed. Commissioned by the Spanish Republican Government to create a large work for the World Fair in Paris, Pablo Picasso, who was born in republican-minded Malaga, painted a stinging indictment, on a gigantic canvas 3.49 metres tall and 7.76 metres wide. To portray the suffering and chaos the war brought to Guernica, he chose a graphic palette of white, grey and black. He said colour would have been improper.


Ghent, October 2011

This exhibition is a silent homage to the poet Federico García Lorca, who was executed three-quarters of a century ago. Nine videos record the passage of time in unspecified locations, in real time, unedited.

The images are black-and-white, not because colour would be improper, but because the theme is light, and especially second-hand light: shadow. Just as there are no recognisable people and all the locations are universal, so too is every hint of the anecdotal avoided. Because LORCA 1937 is absolutely not intended to be a political pamphlet, let alone art with a message. For that there are other channels. (‘If you have something to say, send an email.’)


©  Guido De Bruyn