Esther Planas

Copyright 2019

Who once had been forced to forget

Under cruel laws of expelling, converting, and prosecution, most of a history of our own past had been erased, burnt.

These works made between 1985 and 1995, where part of a more or less uninformed or intuitive attempt to explore subjectivity, feelings and knowledge on the ultimate tabú.

My practice and life encountered -not only its first huge discursive and moral crisis- but also a deep feeling of alienation and strangeness in relation to my social and political so called Spanish inside what was known to be from a Southern European context.

Coming from a fascistic culture, country where I had grown up with Francisco Franco and experienced the Catholic darkness all over my small micro social and familial world. Seeing how in 1985 was obvious that the 70's dreams had never come to be, this deep personal and identitarian crisis drove me to want to de-construct my own "supposed identity" and embrace certain intuitive notions and guessing about my true origins that were, in any case mixed and from quite complex and mysterious unknown family backgrounds.

In a way, it was more about how difficult had became to be that, which one, was not.

Filled with an intense desire of leaving the West.

But for really leaving it from a cultural, philosophical, and moral spiritual points.

It was no escaping, no search in the authentic like the Orientalist.

It was about finding the "real" in the forced erased clues and hidden gestures, physical and biological obviousness.

After this process was done on and about my own hometown (Barcelona), the history of Catalunya as a subjugated peoples, forced to speak Castellano and to serve the Spanish/ French monarchy, etc etc.and the implications of this with the instauration of the Fascist España against the Catalan peoples, the call to investigation did not stop, and there it appeared all our Jewish Sephardi and Arab Andalusian roots many of us felt or knew existed.

It was then when I left the geographical site (Barcelona) and move to live in the south of Spain (Al- Andalus) Seville and in North Africa, Tangier, as it was so urgent that it actually happened.

I want to map out and back, notebooks, drawings, photos, and events all around those times.

As a point of visual departure I like to include the last publication (the last odd one) of my project V.O. in 1985, it was called Cerca del Mar (close to the sea) and was addressing all the issues in an intuitive way about being Mediterranean.

The magazine can be studied at MACBA archive this days.
The magazine was my last one, and its publishers had let the graphic designers do as they wished.
Even at this level of my biography, there is a violent patriarchal order that kept boycotting my works.

For many years I had hated my own magazine because of the underlining issues with male power and Spanish vs Catalan politics and mutual hatred.

I would also start uploading a few pictures I taken last summer, on a book a got in Paris in 1994, by then I had read Fernand Braudel, who was someone really inspiring about the ideas of Mediterranean context and history.

The maps show how Islam was in Spain for very long time and supports my feelings of why I feel alienated about the CatholicSpanish that I associate to the Fascist and my Francoist, fascistic upbringing childhood and teenage-hood .

I was also travelling to Morocco with my friend, photographer and film maker Jordi Esteva on 1986 and have here a few photos he take from me and also some drawings and watercolours of our travels, that where later published at an Art and Literature magazine (L'Home invisible ) edited in Barcelona by Carles Prats and María Rey in 1988.

As always happens, our works and investigations, our ideas and preoccupations, belong to a specific times and context, and in many cases, they become artefacts that looked back at to, are deeply impregnated with those times signs.

Is only like this that I can understand now the works of that decade, also the works of later decades till the works that are produced now.

I had produced drawings, travel sketches field notes and field poems.

Art and life were of no difference. I had discovered all this amazing poets also the great works by Hyperion Editorial on translating many of the poets of Al-Andalus including the great works of Teresa Garulo's translation and edition on Female Poetesses.

I am absolutely conscious of the risk that this kind of works entails, specially that of seeming Orientalist (as in Edward Said) or opportunistic.

But our identity issues in the lands of what is know now as Spain run deep and are very complex.

Its all in relation to those problematics and with the few clues of my personal ascendency that I am able to claim arab/berevere and sephardi information and habits run deep in me and in unconscious gestures in some of my family.

I am very interested in continuing this thread and bet for fusion, for the notions of those intermarriages and legacy of convivial harmony we once were able to enjoy.

as an epilogue to this introduction I would like to quote Eduardo Subirats on and about Spain:

"The perspective critical of Orientalism offers no better account of the process of successful obliteration of the Islamic and Hebrew cultures in the Iberian Peninsula. The Islamic library of Granada, one of the most important of its time, was not misread; it was burned. So too the lives of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Jews, their houses of worship and their records. The purpose of the Spanish Christian Military Orders and Christians Kings over the centuries was the construction of an ethnically and theologically homogeneous nation. Such a national-Christian construction was not a speech act, but a violent destruction and a Christian genocide. For the crusaders, there was no Other at all, but only One and the Same: One Truth, or death."

Eduardo Subirats