Variaciones en clave de sol
Video installation, 250 cm x 300 cm x 150 cm, 3’05” video, 2018.
For me rap is a family question. Some of the first records I bought were 7notas7colores, Snoop Dog or 2pac. I grew up with that: accompanied by my mother’s baroque vinyls and my father’s seventies psychedelia and, although I never got into singing or rapping beyond the shower, my brothers did. That family thing, despite the fact that my brothers no longer do their cockfights, we still indulge in the ritual and when, for example, Tote King gives a concert, my brothers and I get together in holy communion and go to cheer him on, full of emotion.
That familiarity with this genre came about in a very clear way, when in my adolescence I realised how important it was to have references that helped you to question the established, how fundamental it is to find that shelter in the manifestation of the other, whether of rage or joy, and through which, at last, one identifies oneself. Or revolts. Or questions. I understood how those lyrics were part of my education, the education of a person who understood how important it is to have references that teach you to question what is established and to be free.
That familiar question, that logical question, a matter of course, is what led me to ask myself and to want to understand how it was possible that, in this country, it was “necessary” to criminalise those discourses critical of the structures of power.
It was early 2018 when I saw one of the documents that has made me most angry in this regard: the trial of Pablo Hasel. However, the outrage had been going strong during the previous months: César Strawberry charged for I don’t know what tweets, Facu Díaz for some slander, Wyoming for others, Cassandra Vera, Willy Toledo, Abel Azcona,…. They had even “kidnapped” Nacho Carretero’s book. What’s more, things got so out of hand that some tremendously ingenious kids, in order to “recover” it, had created an app that, through the text of “Don Quixote”, allowed you to find the words of “Fariña” and thus be able to read it by diving into the fundamental classic of our reordered literature. But also, they also turned off their very talented application. And these are just a few references of that specific moment, because the list would be endless… How was this witch-hunt possible? What was it that frightened them so much that they had to penalise these creators so abruptly? Whether or not their manifestations are to our liking, it is pathetically worrying to find ourselves in this situation in the 21st century, in a country or a system that refers to itself as a democracy. A progressive democracy…
Returning to Pablo Hasel, I don’t know if you have seen his trials. Watch them. Either one. There you will find an educated and prepared young man, with diplomacy and correctness, responding politely to the paternalistic reprimands about his ideology. You can watch these scenes and differ a lot about his creed and convictions. But that is not what we are talking about here. Here we are talking about freedom and free thought and there what happened was an enclosure being erected through the loopholes of a law tailor-made for another freedom: that of free interpretation by your Lordships.
How was it possible for the penal code to include articles that were open to interpretation? Yes, it did and does happen. It happens, for example, with Article 578, to which the Gag Law’ refers, which turns out to be an article that refers to another and this one to another and another and another and so on until it opens up into a tree of more than forty, where many terms contradict the previous one or play with very ambiguous language. This ambiguity leads to a multiplicity of meanings that will be interpreted according to the scale of the person in charge of your judgement. This unintelligible trick, an ode to ambiguity, to multiple meanings, is where the maxim “he who understands the law, understands the trap” is constructed.
So, with this premise (since the familiar question not only as a spectator, but also as a creator who wonders where the limits lie was disrupted) I set about the task of trying to understand that language, that language on which the courts are based. I took the penal code and, with the advice of jurists and lawyers, I tried to assimilate it and what I anticipated before happened: the indeterminacy of articles that referred to others and that, in their unfolding, the concreteness was erased. Perhaps for an artistic exercise it was “interesting” to find a regulation that almost meant the death of semiotics, almost the decapitation of the sign, but not in a law that is no longer concise. It is impossible to know where your rights come in the moment that the terms cease to be concrete: when the interpretation began to be so free and arbitrary, we suddenly stopped knowing what we were talking about.
Once I understood this absurdity, I naively thought that there must be other legislation that was above this and on which one could rely, such as article 20 of the Spanish Constitution, which states that “(…) the rights are recognised and protected: to freely express and disseminate thoughts, ideas and opinions by word, writing or any other means of reproduction”. Clear and concise. I kept looking for more possible aids, just in case the Magna Carta was not enough. I found apparently many: the Convention for the Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the Manifesto in Defence of Freedom of Expression and Creation and the Right to Protest, the International Declaration for the Protection of Journalists, etc. All of them clear. All of them clear and concise, all of them contradicting the gag . However, they are good for practically nothing. Why? It is the fish that bites its own tail: everything will be assessed and interpreted on Spanish territory as far as the latest reform of the Citizen Security Law is concerned. Our country does not enjoy the same protection in terms of freedom of expression as, for example, the United States with its First Amendment, law which, to sum it up in one sentence, “prohibits to prohibit”…. So there we go again: whoever interprets should take the baton.
From all this comes a piece with a name as absurd as the story I have just told you, Variaciones en clave sol para formalizaciones de marco in crescendo,(Variations in treble clef for frame formalisations in crescendo) a video installation that tries to show the gaps in the language that cause us not to know where the legal framework in which we find ourselves begins and ends.
This piece is made up of a video projection surrounded by a large number of frames of approximately DINA4 size that accompany it, occupying the four sides of the vertical panel on which it is projected and overflowing to occupy part of the floor. The video also shows the score of the national anthem, also known as the Marcha Real or Marcha Granadera, taken from the Official State Gazette in its adaptation for marching bands. The faces of different artistic creators who have been charged for crimes determined in the last reform of the Law of Citizen Security, popularly known as the gag law (specifically for terms assigned in article 578 of the Penal Code) are drawn on the score. This article is adapted as the sound of the piece in the form of a whisper as the video progresses and, in turn, the drawings of those portrayed fade away until they completely dissolve, leaving the score in view.
The video projection is surrounded by approximately 250 frames. The ones closest to the video include different texts from Spanish, European and international jurisdiction that contradict the gag law: those mentioned above, as well as all the letters and manifestos that, in my opinion, are practically useless; the rest are empty.
The framework of frameworks of legality, the framework of archival frameworks, a framework made up of many frameworks that frame and corset a work as any other work could be, depending on the free interpretation that is made of it. A frame that is not static, a fact that is reflected in the large number of empty frames that the piece also possesses and that can grow because it is not known where th the work does not overflow the
frame: it is the latter that engulfs it.
The aforementioned whisper is the one that seeks to silence us, relying on the machinery of fear; so sophisticated that one already considers on an individual level what one is going to write, what one is going to draw, what searches one is going to carry out on the net or how one can express oneself within the limits of the “imposed framework”, what is known as the discouragement effect, the fear that if the other has been accused it is better for one to remain silent. A victory for power, which is reaffirmed at the moment of the suffocating narrowness of that framework: the moment when censorship becomes self-censorship, when its gags are already attacking our speech and thus shaping us into a new identity. This new identity is the one the state expects of us, the one that normalises, generalises, homogenises and, little by little, erases our characteristic and individual traits to turn us into grotesque masks of what we once were. A scenario of lukewarmness to which we are hopelessly pushed by the law of “political correctness”.
Thus, my family question became a question through artistic exercise. But perhaps family questions must become more extensive when such unspecified legislation is used in a state of alarm. Let us then ask ourselves what is the familiarity to which the familiarity of others, of those who hold the baton, alludes. Perhaps their sense of belonging with regard to ambiguity began long ago, almost thirty years ago, with the reform of the Corcuera Law or, as some of us call it, the law of the kick at the door. In 1992, a measure was passed that gave state security forces the authority to enter your home without a warrant or judicial authorisation, allowing them to enter private property simply on suspicion that someone might be committing a crime. This turned out to be such a nonsense that, the following year, it was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court and was consequently annulled. However, that was the beginning of the lucubrations where it was taken for granted that why bother to corroborate facts. The new standard was suspicion. And with it the anticipation for our sake, for each and every one of our goods. That’s where I think our loss of consciousness was born, the deprogramming of our origin and our family constellation. Because until we are familiar with the terms in which the norm is governed, that is all we can do: question ourselves more and more about the norm.
According to the previous image:
According to the Real Academia de la Lengua:
1. f. An object placed in the mouth to prevent speaking. U. t. in a figurative sense.
2. f. Sea. A simple iron machine placed on the deck of a ship and which, closing over the chan
3. a. a simple iron machine placed on the deck of a ship which, by closing on the anchor chain, stops and prevents the anchor chain from coming out of the ship.
3. f. Mechanism. The sliding part of the drum brake that supports the friction elements.
4. n. A mil. A device employed in some mountings for the purpose of reducing the recoil of artillery pieces.
Instrument composed of two semi-cylindrical pieces of hard wood, between which the upper part of the scrotum is conveniently held to prevent spillage during castration.
6. f. Arg. and Hond. A small rope or rope attached to a wooden rope, with which a horse is gagged.
7. f. Arg. Cylindrical wooden utensil, approximately 40 cm long, with a slit through which the tiento or strip of leather is passed to be softened.
According to the Penal Code:
Article 578, which refers to articles 572 to 577, which in turn refers to articles 572, 197 and 264; which in turn refers to articles 573, 144, 149, 150, 157, 158, 346 and 351, 550 and 557. And the latter to those between 311 to 313 and 368 to 375. It also refers to articles 510, 205, 206, 492 to 494 and 524 and 525.