Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation

About the silence of the bodies

Del 08 al 19 septiembre 2021

Martes a viernes 16-21h

Sábados, domingos y festivos 11-21h

Extensión AVAM

As part of the 14th edition of Proyector: Festival de Videoarte, the works of Sahar Marcus (2019) and Juan-Ramón Barbancho (2016) show two different approaches as to how the victims and missing bodies caused by political violence are represented.

In addition to those mutilated and massacred bodies thrown by armed conflicts, there are other episodes not so easy to report: the disappearances, absences and voids. That is, violence is based on fear, domination and the erasure of history. In this sense, the absence of the bodies entails a two-sided dimension: on the one hand, it invalidates the processes of mourning and grieving, in which, in many societies, the presence of the bodies comforts those who mourn for them; on the other hand, it involves an attempt to erase the political causes that produce those absences, since bodies act as historical documents by themselves.

“Dig” (2019), by Sahar Marcus, reflects on these ideas. The camera shakes as it shows some anonymous hands attempting to dig through rubble from a destroyed building. Debris that seem not to end. A scene that might look familiar to the average viewer, who is accustomed to witnessing the bodies and their stories buried under the weight of violence. 

“La muerte no enterrada” (2016), piece of Juan-Ramón Barbancho, takes us to a familiar context too. Along with the footsteps of a man crossing a land just before sunrise, a voice-over reads, in a calmly way, a list of some names, ages, professions and a date that refers to the summer of 36. That list consists of 71 people that were murdered during the Spanish Civil War in the region of Córdoba by the pro-Franco repression. The same that would last during the 40 years of dictatorship and would make Spain the second country with the largest number of mass graves in the world. Most of them still not exhumed.