La insurrección es un…

The present series is an inventory of anxiety over the course of recent European history. It comprises two kinds of images: first, places of significant events that have been repressed in the “unconscious of the collective” (the Plaça de Sant Felip Neri in Barcelona where a major bomb attack by the dictator Franco’s air force took place in 1938, the street in Stockholm where Olof Palme was assassinated, the Kafkaesque building of the Supreme Court in Athens erected on the site of a former prison for political dissidents, the pier associated with the dockers’ strike of 1913 in the Leith district of Edinburgh); second, images that depict simple acts performed by individuals in their everyday lives but which insinuate an uneasiness with what surrounds them (a man by a wall urgently picking up a note, a mother and a child staring at an undisclosed object or event in the sky above them). Repressed memories of past socio-political events and the trivial everydayness of random, unspecified acts are combined in the series to question the veneer of calmness that contemporary Europe tries to preserve but cannot, as it descends in turmoil day after day.

The starting point of the photographic series has been my concern about the state of European politics in the early 21st century – a concern shared by many. Although intersecting recent crises are intensifying, the series takes a few steps back to visualise a protracted sense of “feeling out of place”. Is this connected with history as a process that contemporary Europeans feel they have lost sight of? A photograph’s indexicality compels it to refer, however implicitly, to what ‘has been’ rather than what is to come. In the photograph that gives the title to the series, the affirmative phrase of the Barcelona graffiti “la insurrección es un…” is obscured by the materiality of objects (building materials). Affirmation leaves the viewer with a question: what is an insurrection, after all? Would we know if we removed the obstacles?

The photographic series is an exercise in capturing underlying signs of dislocation – in the way that political theorist Ernesto Laclau meant this word: indications of fault lines. The series constitutes an ongoing personal archive of such signs, which address what cannot be foreseen as the definitive outcome of social processes: the unpredictable, the tentative, the barely possible. In doing so, the series asks us to connect the two sets of images – the sites of socio-political events and our seemingly haphazard everydayness – to reclaim life as presentness.