Barcelona dismantles Franco exhibition after sculpture of dictator pulled down
Barcelona’s City Hall had to dismantle the exhibition ‘Franco-Victory-Republic: impunity and urban space’after the equestrian sculpture of dictator Francisco Franco was pulled down last night. The monument, the head of which was pulled off in an act of vandalism a couple of years ago, had suffered several attacks since it was put in place before the ‘El Born’cultural centre on Monday. It was vandalised with graffiti, many offended citizens threw eggs and fruits at it and even objects such as the head of a pig were spontaneously added to the monument. According to Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, the exhibition “was a good decision” rather than a mistake because “it has generated public debate and reflection on the Francoism impunity”. The exhibition also included another Francoist sculpture, ‘Victoria’, which was withdrawn this Friday by Barcelona’s City Hall, because it didn’t make “any sense without the sculpture of the dictator”, Pisarello explained.
Barcelona (CNA).- The equestrian sculpture of dictator Francisco Franco, which had been exhibited since Monday before the ‘El Born’cultural centre in Barcelona as part of a controversial exhibition, was pulled down last night. After several attacks since its installation, including graffiti, offensive objects such as a pig head and eggs and fruits being thrown at the sculpture, a group of people who as of yet haven’t been floored the monument, the head of which was pulled off in an act of vandalism a couple of years ago. This morning, Barcelona’s City Hall decided to withdraw the other sculpture too, which symbolised the victory of the Francoist regime. “This sculpture doesn’t make any sense without that of the dictator”, Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, explained this Friday. Pisarello also assured that the local government doesn’t regret organising the exhibition ‘Franco-Victory-Republic: impunity and urban space’but feels that “it was a good decision because it has created public reflection on the Francoism impunity”.
According to eye witnesses, three people pulled down the Franco sculpture on Thursday night, at about 23.30 (CET). They did so by levering with a door and a mattress base, which they later abandoned in the area. Soon afterwards, Barcelona City Hall workers withdrew the monument.
Barcelona City Hall doesn’t regret organising the exhibition
“Absolutely not”, responded Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, when journalists asked him if having organised the exhibition Franco-Victory-Republic: impunity and urban space’was a mistake. “The exhibition was a good decision because it has generated public reflection on Francoism impunity and the silence has been broken”, added Pisarello. According to him it was “legitimate”to set it up before ‘El Born’, which symbolised “the centre of the historic memory of 1714 [when Barcelona was defeated by Bourbon troops] but also of other memories related to political repression”, he said.
Pisarello also noted that the attacks on the Franco sculpture “confirm that there was a topic which needed to be laid on the table, that impunity had to be discussed and that Franco’s dictatorship has not been debated enough neither in Catalonia nor in Spain”. Thus, the whole controversy “proves that these kinds of exhibitions are necessary”.
An exhibition surrounded by controversy
The exhibition has been surrounded by controversy since it was first announced, last August.The initiative came from the governing party in the Catalan capital, the alternative left and green alliance ‘Barcelona En Comú’led by Ada Colau. According to the organisers, the aim of the exhibition was“to generate debate”and “break the silence and the moral void surrounding Franco’s dictatorship”. However, Pisarello admitted then that the project “may be awkward”and that some wounds provoked by Franco’s dictatorship were not yet healed.
Those who opposed the exhibition from the very first moment claimed that other exhibitions, like a specific one on Hitler in Berlin, were kept inside the museums rather than being displayed on the streets. Political forces such as pro-independence left wing ERC and 'Amical de Mauthausen', the association which brings together Spanish Republican ex-deportees from Nazi concentration camps as well as relatives and friends of survivors and those murdered in the camps, also point out that Spain and Germany dealt differently with the consequences of their fascist regimes.
“In a country where the executioners were judged and the victims were properly buried such an exhibition may be difficult to understand but it could be considered a cultural element”stated ERC’s President in Barcelona’s City Hall, Alfred Bosch, but pointed out that putting on display such an exhibition in Spain “is an offence to the victims”and “gives a sense of normality which doesn’t exist”. According to Bosch, the exhibition “is not the best way to heal the victims”and may “lead to misunderstandings”.