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TODO ESPECTADOR ES UN COBARDE O UN TRAIDOR march 04 - may 06, 2022
  • Gran Teatro Cervantes 1

    Gran Teatro Cervantes 1, 2022

    Digital print on Dibond encapsulated with methacrylate

    83 x 125 cm / 33´5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

  • Preludio

    Preludio, 2022

    Videoinstallation

    Vídeo 4K, audio, 16:9, 10´54". Ed. 3 + 2 AP

    Paper photography background and support stand backdrop crossbar

  • Preludio

    Preludio, 2022

    Videoinstallation

    Vídeo 4K, audio, 16:9, 10´54". Ed. 3 + 2 AP

    Paper photography background and support stand backdrop crossbar

  • Dramaturgia. Aristófanes

    Dramaturgia. Aristófanes, 2022

    Dramaturgia.  Aristófanes

    Digital print on Dibond encapsulated with methacrylate

    33´5 x 50 cm

     

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP

  • Dramaturgia. Corneille

    Dramaturgia. Corneille, 2022

    Digital Print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate 

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP


  • Dramaturgia. Esquilo

    Dramaturgia. Esquilo, 2022

    Digital Print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate 

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP


  • Dramaturgia. Goldoni

    Dramaturgia. Goldoni, 2022

    Digital Print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP

  • Dramaturgia. Lope de Rueda

    Dramaturgia. Lope de Rueda, 2022

    Digital Print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed 3 + 2 AP

  • Dramaturgia. Moliere

    Dramaturgia. Moliere, 2022

    Digital Print on  Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP

  • Dramaturgia. Schiller

    Dramaturgia. Schiller, 2022

    Digital Print on  Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP

  • Dramaturgia. Sófocles

    Dramaturgia. Sófocles, 2022

    Digital Print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 AP

  • Dramaturgia

    Dramaturgia, 2022

     Polyptych

    Digital print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm c/u

    Ed. de 3 + 2 PA

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

  • Gran Teatro Cervantes 2

    Gran Teatro Cervantes 2, 2022

    Digital Print on Dibond encapsulated in methacrylate

    33,5 x 50 cm / 85 x 125 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 PA

  • Gran Teatro Cervantes 3

    Gran Teatro Cervantes 3, 2022

    Impresión digital sobre Dibond encapsulada en metacrilato

    33,5 x 50 cm / 85 x 125 cm

    Ed. 3 + 2 PA

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

  • Contra-público tangerino

    Contra-público tangerino, 2022

    Videoinstallation

    Full HD video, 28´45". ED. 4 + 2 AP

    Photography bakcground, backdrop crossbar and  and wall supports

  • Contra-público tangerino

    Contra-público tangerino, 2022

    Videoinstallation

    Full HD video, 28´45". Ed. 4 + 2 AP

    Photography background, backdrop crossbar and wall supports

  • Contra-público tangerino

    Contra-público tangerino, 2022

    Videoinstallation

    Full HD video, 28´45". Ed. 4 + 2 AP

    Photography background, backdrop crossbar and wall supports

  • Contrapúblico tangerino

    Contrapúblico tangerino, 2022

    Videoinstallation

    Full HD video, 28´45". Ed. 4 + 2 AP

    Photography background, backdrop crossbar and wall supports

  • Exhibition view

    Exhibition view,

PRESS RELEASE

Every spectator is a coward or a traitor

“The collective struggle supposes, at its base, a collective responsibility and, at the summit, a collegiate responsibility. Yes, it is necessary to implicate everyone in the struggle for the sake of our common salvation. There can be no pure hands, no innocents, no spectators. We all dirty our hands in the swamps of our land and the tremendous emptiness of our minds. Every spectator is a coward or a traitor.” (Frantz Fanon; 155.)

Tangier was one of the most important cities in Northern Africa, above all on account of its geographic situation, only 14kms across the Straits from Gibraltar, the port of entry to Europe. It was a frontier city, sitting between two worlds, two continents, and two cultures. Known until 1956 (the date of its independence) as the “Tangier International Zone”, its administration and legislation were assumed by Spain, France, and the United Kingdom under the Tangier Protocol, which was signed here on 18th December 1923. Five years later Italy joined the Protocol, and then later Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal. The Tangier Protocol was signed in a pre-war, military context. The Spanish occupation of Tangier occurred during the Second World War, between 1940 and 1945, when the Franco government dissolved the Protocol and targeted with persecution and repression all civil servants who had remained loyal to The Second Republic. Once the war was over the city regained its international status. The city of poets, writers, filmmakers, painters…celebrated by all and sundry as the mysterious, exotic city…Stereotypes that derived from the very process of colonisation; ideological stereotypes which imposed a Eurocentric and biased view of the exotic and mysterious “other”, and which were dismantled by Edward Said in his work “Orientalism”. Herein, Said shone a light on how these prejudices derive from an erudite field of study in which the Oriental, the Arab, is considered as a malicious and perverse subject, the “absolute other”. This stereotype, he continued, is without doubt the most important strategic discourse of colonialism, in which the “other” is constructed from differences into a fixed image, and which sees the other as immutably inferior, irrational, savage and primitive and who it was necessary to civilise - with the aim of ensuring domination.

Every process of colonialisation involves the occupation of territory and the appropriation of goods and resources, and also imposes its own “culture” (language, religion, laws, customs and ways of life…). Important urban and architectural projects were carried out in Tangier under the Spanish protectorate. In 1909 the post of municipal engineer of the city was given to technicians appointed by the Spanish consulate. The Spanish architects and engineers working at that time did not apply any specific model, until in the 1940’s they introduced an eclectic mix of Rationalism, Art Decó, Art Nouveau, and Modernism, all of a metropolitan style, and on occasions with shades of the neo-Arab, and neo-Andalusí. From the 1940’s the Francoist state would impose a model in the Herreran style of Baroque, designed to implant an idea of Spanishness.

The Grand Theatre of Tangier, inaugurated in 1913, is a good example of the turn of the century art nouveau architecture. This theatre, launched by private capital, was designed by the prolific Spanish architect, born in Tangier and educated in Paris, Diego Jiménez Armstrong, who imported the French style and used it throughout the city. In 1928 the theatre was acquired by the Primo de Rivera government and from 1974 it was rented by the Tangier City Hall for the nominal sum of 1 Dirham per year. Up to 2019 the theatre was under the ownership of the Spanish state until in February of that year it was donated irrevocably to the Moroccan state on condition that it should be restored, that it would preserve its name, and that it would be dedicated to “public use, of a social interest, and for the promotion of both Moroccan and Spanish culture”, thereby assuring the continuity of a cultural domination in which “Everything which is the implantation of our culture is correct” (Peio H. Riaño). 

The theatre was designed for and frequented by the significant colony of Spaniards in Tangier and was an emblem of Spanish culture in Morocco. It should be remembered that a third of the population of Tangier in those years was of European origins, of whom more than 25,000 were Spaniards. The theatre was, until the 1980’s, the most important theatre in Northern Africa, with a capacity for 1,400 people.

“In 1918, Caruso, the great tenor of those times, arrived one fine spring morning in Tangier, and others to perform there included Estrellita Castro, Carmen Sevilla, Imperio Argentina, María Caballé, and the great Catalina Berreno who, with castanets in her hands, and accompanying all sensitive spirits, symbolised flamenco song and classical dance. Antonio Machín, the great Cuban singer, also performed there, as did Manolo Caracol, a singer popular in Spain, and Lola Flores, the fantastic performer of “Flamenco song” who starred in the dance of “The Girl of Fire” ("La niña de fuego”). 

Later, in 1944, Pepe Marchena and Juanito Valderrama, with small “Chinese” eyes and a fine and sustained voice, combined with the chords of various guitarists of Bulerías and fandanguillos” (Mouna Aarab and Sarah Amarouchi).

The theatre also hosted private parties, meetings, and celebrations of all sorts for the Spanish community, thus becoming a symbol of national identity.

The theatre has lain abandoned for many years, in a complete state of ruin, in stark contrast to the innumerable urban projects that have been carried out in the lower city under the Plan for Industrial Acceleration 2014-2020, of which more than 25% have been built by Spanish companies. Most prominent among the monumental constructions undertaken in this period is the mega-project Tangier City Center, built by the Spanish company Iveravante, and the Tangier Palace of Culture and the Arts, founded with the aim of augmenting the cultural capital of the city and attracting tourism. Both buildings are located metres away from the Malabata beach, in the new “Beverly Hills” of Tangier. The exhibition presented here by J.C. Robles bears the title “Every spectator is a coward or a traitor”, in a clear allusion to the well-known phrase from the 1961 book by Frantz Fanon “The Damned of the Earth” (“Les damnés de la terre”). The phrase is a direct reference to the first verse of The International: “Debout! les damnés de la terre! Debout! les forçats de la faim!” (“Arise, wretched of the Earth! Arise, hungry legions!”). The phrase “the wretched of the Earth” addresses the complexity of decolonialisation, and the political processes of African emancipation, and is a call to collective action.

“The colonialised man who writes for his people, when he uses the past, must do so with the intention of opening the future, of calling to action, of forging hope. But, in order to achieve hope, to give it density, he must participate in the action, committing body and soul to the national struggle. He may speak of everything, but when he decides to speak of that one thing unique in the life of a man who represents the act of widening horizons, that of bringing light to the Earth itself, of raising up both himself and his people, then he must collaborate vigorously.” (Frantz Fanon; 116.)

This book has illuminated numerous anti colonialist liberation movements throughout the world. In 1968, the phrase appeared at the beginning of the cinematographic trilogy “The Hour of the Ovens” (“La hora de los hornos”), an influential film on colonialism, violence and liberation by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, members of the Argentinean Cinema Liberation Group. This cinematographic essay is today regarded as an unquestionable symbol of resistance and a magnificent reflection on identity and the forms of violence that are inflicted upon a people. Considered by its own maker as a film of action cinema, it is a case of cinema understood as political action.

In Crossing Lines (2018), J.C. Robles filmed the construction of the Tangier Palace of Culture and the Arts, and in the current exhibition presents two audio-visual projects which relate to it: “Prelude” (“Preludio”), and “Tangier Anti-Public” (“Contra-público Tangerino” (2022). “Every spectator is a coward or a traitor” (“Todo espectador es un cobarde o un traidor”) obliges us to take a stand. Nobody can remain indifferent; nobody can be seen as a passive spectator. The phrase questions you, it confronts you.

The first two projects link two spaces in the city, two places, two cultures and two moments in history, and place centre stage the social, economic, and cultural relationships that exist between them. The Grand Theatre Cervantes and the Palace of Culture and the Arts are at odds with each other politically and temporally. The Grand Theatre Cervantes represents the Spanish occupation and the Palace of Culture and the Arts represents the new economic and demographic expansion of the city of Tangier, a new “Eldorado” for Spanish companies. Wherever one looks there are cranes, lorries, buildings under construction. As the city seeks to establish itself as a major tourist destination, one image of construction confronts another of abandonment.

In “Prelude” (“Preludio”), Emir Adbullah sings to a non-existent audience, to an empty theatre in ruins; he sings to his lost love, to Palestine, to this ruin of the Spanish colonial past. All around him are mountains of rubble, broken theatre seats, fallen timbers, heaps of rubbish which speak to us of the past and which push us towards the future, as all the while the ensemble of ruins grows at his feet.

In “Tangier Anti-Public” (“Contra-público Tangerino”) various people, of different ages, look at us and question us – we know nothing about them, only that it is a group of people from Tangier. It is an “anti-public”, confronting we the public who are in the exhibition hall, and which requires us to reflect on our own position, and to question ourselves as to our own relationship with the Other - that ambivalent relationship between desire and rejection that the colonial stereotype shapes in us all.

 

The task in which the project “Every spectator is a coward or a traitor” is engaged is this psychological and political one of seeking to destabilise the colonial stereotype. 

 

“To see society from the outside and from within, like a native and like an outsider, requires sagacity and prudence.” (Juan Goytisolo)

 

References:

 

 

BOE núm. 68, de 20 de marzo de 2019

Aplicación provisional del Protocolo entre el Reino de España y el Reino de Marruecos para la donación irrevocable de la propiedad del "Gran Teatro Cervantes" de Tánger, hecho en Rabat el 13 de febrero de 2019., páginas 27672 a 27673

 

Mouna AARAB y Sarah AMAROUCHI, BABEL, nº 17, febrero 2004. Páginas: 61 y 62.  http://tangier.free.fr/esp/cervantes.htm

Frantz FANON, Los condenados de la tierra, Fondo de Cultura Económica, México 1983.

Juan GOYTISOLO, << El misterio de Tánger>> El País Opinión, 30 agosto de 2003. https://elpais.com/diario/2003/08/30/opinion/1062194407_850215.html

 

Peio H. RIAÑO, <> El País Cultura, 9 de febrero 2019.

 

Joaquín MAYORDOMO, <> El País Economía, 21 mayo 2017.

https://elpais.com/economia/2017/05/18/actualidad/1495126509_559043.html

 

 

 

In collaboration with University of Málaga







 

© 2011 Isabel Hurley