In the last two weeks I have been dealing with theft and vandalism at my exhibition in the Bearpit. My lack of funds and the very public nature of the show have pushed me into being quite creative in my responses to this constantly changing situation, and I have found that these problems have actually provided me with an opportunity to improve and evolve the display.
So what's been happening in Spain?
Kings, flags and historians.
Well the main news to grip the headlines this week has been the decision by King Juan Carlos 1 to celebrate his 76th birthday by abdicating the throne in favour of his son Crown Prince Felipe who he described as "the incarnation of stability". (ref 1) The third European monarch to abdicate since April last year, Juan Carlos explained that "A new generation must be at the forefront".
The reign of Juan Carlos 1 is a little contentious, he is seen by many as a heroic defender of democracy. This approach is typified by the blurb on Amazon for historian Paul Preston's book about the king (2):
The announcement of Juan Carlo's abdication saw tens of thousands of people take to the streets in Madrid and Barcelona, calling for the abolition of the monarchy and the creation of Spain's third republic (the second republic being the one that was destroyed by Franco's mercenaries in 1936).
Beyond the hated bureaucratic monoliths of Spain's two main parties, in the interstices of the political mainstream, lies the fizzing possibility of a true popular resistance, and sovereignty."
Discussing the claims that Juan Carlos 1 played a pivotal role in establishing Spanish democracy, Dan Hancox states:
The sweet smell of burning barricades
The authorities knew it was going to be difficult, but in the end they decided to press ahead with the eviction and demolition of Can Vies last week. In the low-income neighbourhood of Sants in Barcelona, Can Vies has been running as a popular social centre since it was first squatted in 1997.
You can get a sense of the place from this amazing video they made to celebrate their sixteenth birthday last year:
By this time the protests had reached the international media. On Thursday May 29th the Guardian described the unrest:
Protesters had planned symbolic rebuilding day for Saturday May 31st. In the end it became a victory party, an actual work day of site clearance and rebuilding and one more chance to cock a snook at the authorities:
While I was writing this blog I received a phone call informing me that someone has smashed open the picture frames in my exhibition again, and stolen the last two big colour pictures from their boards. So tomorrow I will be going back down to the bearpit to see what can be done. If the Spanish people can face all their challenges with hope and creativity I have a duty to face my much smaller problems in the same way.
1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27662301 Juan Carlos 1 abdicates
2 http://www.amazon.com/Juan-Carlos-Steering-Dictatorship-Democracy/dp/B001PIHV0I - Paul Preston book about Juan Carlos 1
3 http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Spanish_Civil_War.html?id=2vioVIdend4C - Paul Preston, 'The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge'
4 http://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/dan-hancox/king-is-dead - Dan Hancox on the abdication
5 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2647087/Thousands-anti-monarchist-protesters-streets-Spain-calling-republic-King-Juan-Carlos-abdicates-39-years.html - Daily Mail online puts number of signatories at 113,000
6 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/world/europe/spain-abdication.html?_r=0 - NYT reports on popularity of Monarchy in Spain
7 http://revolution-news.com/can-vies/ a day by day account of the protests plus some interesting videos
8 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/10865311/Squat-demolition-called-off-after-four-nights-of-rioting-in-Barcelona.html - telegraph reports announcement to halt demolition
9 http://inquiringminds.cc/can-vies-re-occupied-rebuilding-begins-31-maymorning - an on the ground account of Saturdays celebrations.
10 https://www.facebook.com/CSACanVies?ref=ts&fref=ts Can Vies facebook page (it's in catalan)
photo of flag waving protesters from Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2647087/Thousands-anti-monarchist-protesters-streets-Spain-calling-republic-King-Juan-Carlos-abdicates-39-years.html
Photo of burning digger by Júlia Reds https://twitter.com/JuliaReds18?original_referer=http%3A%2F%2Frevolution-news.com%2Fcan-vies%2F&tw_i=471407958350639104&tw_p=tweetembed
Protester gives the finger http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/riots-barcelona-squatters-are-evicted-can-vies-building-sants-1450402