The straw men

Work : The straw men.

The act of repopulating the deserted town of El Quiñon with straw men. All straw men took the measurements and are dressed in clothes of the artist.

Location : El Quiñon, Spain, 2013.

Statement :

El Quiñon, October 8, 2013.

“What spirit does not beat the countryside? Who doesn’t build castles in Spain? » declaimed Messire de la Fontaine in front of the superintendent of finances Fouquet. The adventurous builders unfortunately, when their megalomania overshadows the Sun, sometimes end up tasting the rubble or the moldy straw of the dungeons.
This is what happened to Francisco Hernando, developer of the El Quiñon district of Seseña nuevo, whose madness of grandeur caused his resounding bankruptcy. Its history will remain exemplary of the real estate crisis that has affected Spain since 2008.
In its mirage city planned for 40,000 residents, there are only 3,000, struggling daily to survive in a hostile, disproportionate environment, without infrastructure or conviviality. As in Thomas More’s Utopia, the dream can always turn into a nightmare: the population finds itself on an island cut off from the world, dispersing this dull intuition along the wind-walled avenues: Abraxa / Seseña, cities born from finance and mathematics are crazy towns. No matter how much we calculate and recalculate, without humanity, any habitat is a non-place. In mason’s language, we call it a big waste!
The situation cannot leave us indifferent: In Spain, ruined by the crisis, many people find themselves homeless, huddled together with their parents, wandering from mobile homes to rotting vans – precarious travelers, economic nomads – while at the same time At the moment, hundreds of new homes taunt them with their monstrous emptiness.
So, despite themselves, some sink in, others rebel.
Always on the road, distilling the grapes of anger within me, I just want to take a truck and be there. I might as well take Rocinante, as the cause seems lost in advance. By thus joining the man from La Manche facing the windmills in fiction, I would embrace like him my taste for values that others consider obsolete, going against the grain. Also like him, I would dare the fantasy of giving an imaginary body to my indignations.
A simple, literal idea: Repopulate the town with scarecrows. You know, those familiar, anthropomorphic silhouettes that ward off vultures and reassure humans. Since the dawn of time, it seems to me that this is also what statues and totems are for: to fill our metaphysical solitudes, to crystallize our fears in the face of the threatening wings of the night. This is also what my sculptures of rags and pieces of string will be used for, to reduce the isolation of the artist in his studio, in his life, in his art. Arranged in the four corners of a ghost town, these silhouettes dressed in my old clothes, resuming my proportions, will tear apart the crazy depth of my doubts to better keep them at bay.
Nothing too extravagant after all, I will be part of the long popular tradition of Spanish carnivals. I too will have my Hombre de Paja, built in the material from which we make old songs, those that we burn to better bring them back to life. Men of dry grass, woven with eternal nature. Because, no offense to the three little pigs, it’s proven: straw resists fire better than concrete.
This is good news, especially when we know that in Spain, using the “straw man strategy” consists of caricaturing the ideas of your opponent to discredit them. A bit like some sellers of bags of cement and mortgage loans do with these shaggy and frumpy Indignados. The very people who prided themselves on wanting to transform the Puerta del Sol in Madrid into the Plaza de la Solidaridad. Perhaps all is not lost then?
Is it really ridiculous to make all this hay, to think that numbers come after humans, to want to inhabit the world differently?
The members of Occupy Wall Street say nothing else. They speak of an active presence in the world, they animate a deep, powerful movement. One by one they unearth the paving stones of the great builders, the real ones, those of the spirit: Heidegger, Bachelard, Arendt, Bourdieu, Lefevre, Levinas. They throw them in the mouths of the barbarians. I am not a theoretician, I understand little and especially slowly. I would rather be the type to take ready-made ideas and use them to tinker with little metaphors by counting on the “creative deviances of language”. From Ricoeur the humanist, I think I will apply the lesson by telling myself stories to exist.
As Hölderlin says better than all with his formula “The essential thing, undoubtedly, is to try to poetically inhabit the world, the house of the world. »
It is in this spirit that I will head south with a full trunk. The mp3 player at full blast on the asphalt.

Adalante compañeros!

“Vienen las hierbas, hijo; There is some saliva in the sky. »Frederico Garcia Lorca.


Links :

Site indignés espagnols

 Livre Anthony Poiraudeau

Article sur El Quiñon


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