the bitter aftermath of the Franco-dictatorship. An image-report
Emilio Silva was sure: his grandfather must be buried somewhere in the soil of the field where he was walking. Grandfather Silva Faba, murdered by Franco- adherents during the Civil War in 1936.
“ I am not the only one who is searching,” Emilio said. ”Thousands of people all over Spain are looking for more than 115,000 missing relatives. Where are they?!”
I saw the scene on Dutch television in 2000. Bewilderment! I didn’t know anything about the Franco era and its aftermath!
Later I learnt about the weekly walk-rounds on the central square of Madrid: the Plaza del Sol. Every Thursday relatives are walking there, carrying the portraits of their lost beloved, just like the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. In search of truth and justice. The tragedy of the Argentine missing persons was well-known but I didn’t know anything about Spain.
What is going on here? I want to know. Why didn’t I know anything? How is that possible?
Does Spain succeed in hiding the dark side of its history so well?
In 2011 on a Thursday night I walked the Ronda por la Memoria for the first time, arm in arm with Hilda Farfante. She carried the portrait of her murdered parents, I with the portrait of a missing person that was pushed into my hands. The children of that time walked and walk here; they are old now, their lives marked by the murders of their relatives, marked by fear, poverty and the terrible silence that ensued. A life determined by the question: “Where are they?” Time is short: their only desire is to find their dear ones back and to give them at least a funeral with dignity. With the certainty that their children will continue to demand truth and justice.
Spain, having signed the international treaties of human rights, does nothing to reveal the truth about its own crimes!
“Spain is one big mass grave,” someone told me.
I listen to the stories shamefaced, I watch, I ask, I record, and make an attempt at picturing. Would that perhaps contribute a tiny little bit to giving back some dignity to those who are still lying in thousands of mass graves and to those who are looking for them?
MEMORIA HISTÓRICA,(2014) a serie of panels with 46 photomontages. Size: 75x60 cm each. Exhibits: summer 2014 Amsterdam Resistance-museum; Februari-March 2015: NIOD, Institute for War-Holocaust- and Genocide-studies Amsterdam.
Peace Museum Guernica (Spain) 7th of april - mid-september 2016