Jakob Wirth

Valle de los Caídos

Valle de los Caídos

“Valley of the fallen” Guerilla Intervention. Spanien. 2016.

#historic_heritage #fashism #monument #guerilla #hijack #padrimonio_nacional

CONTEXT: This work is linked to the discourse and examination of the legacy of the Franco regime. After more than 40 years society is still deeply divided concerning this topic. During the intervention, information boards with official designs were attached to the uncommented site of the memorial. On the information boards the historical events were explained in objective language.

The “Valley of the Dead Soldiers” was built through the forced labor of political prisoners and honors the victims of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). However, not a single piece of information points to the history of the Franco regime or the ‘purpose’ of the place. The official tourist guide talks about the static challenges of the world‘s largest cross and mentions Franco only in a single sentence where he is soberly called “Jefe de estado” (head of state).

There are no indications of his crimes against humanity which he was convicted for by the Argentine judiciary. Freshly cut flowers are laid out daily on his grave and services are held on top of Francos cave – all without comment.
Description of the Intervention: In a guerilla action, information panels in the design of the National Monuments Office (Patrimonio Nacional) were placed in different places of the “memorial“. On the boards the historical place is described in a factual way and visitors get informed about its occurrences.

The text on the attached information boards is factual and sober. The locations cover the different aspects of the monument and the Franco Regime.

The intervention did not aim to interpret, but to simply document and encourage a discourse rather than condemn it. It raises the question of how a society should deal with its historical monuments and who has the interpretation sovereignty over it.

Photos: © Jakob Wirth