Guest post from Maude Casey – Re-making Guernica project
We are a group of artists, academics and activists who have come together in Brighton in order to remake Picasso’s painting, Guernica, as an act of protest. As part of our process of making, we have begun to establish links with WCML, which will continue, in the form of posts on the WCML blog.
Our project began in June 2012, in response to the fact that, during the previous year, we had witnessed the spread of a new fascism. Virulently Islamophobic, it demonstrates a hatred for immigrant communities as well as for collective organisations, such as trades unions and the Occupy movement, both of which represent the rights of workers and marginalised people.
In April 2012, communities in Brighton showed great unity in a street mobilisation against fascism. We wanted to continue to develop links between people and groups in Brighton through a collective art project, bringing together artists, activists and communities to share skills of making and experiences of countering racism and fascism through the Re-making of Picasso’s Guernica.
We envisaged the Re-making of Picasso’s Guernica as a large-scale textile piece, or series of textile pieces, that could be used as a banner to be carried or displayed as a wall hanging for a permanent or temporary location. It is both a work of art and an act of protest. Different groups are contributing, with support from practising artists, by creating reproductions of the powerful forms created by Picasso to represent the horrors of the aerial bombardment of this small Basque town, in broad daylight, on market day.
As the work of Re-making Picasso’s Guernica has been shared amongst the participants in the project, this collective endeavour is providing a forum for exchanging experiences and understanding of twenty-first century fascism. We shall begin to assemble the forms during a public sewing event at the Jubilee Library in Brighton during Refugee Week in June 2013.
Today is the anniversary of the aerial bombardment of the town of Gernika in Northern Spain on 26th April 1937. On that horrific day, the seven thousand civilian inhabitants, were subjected to three waves of aerial bombardment by the Condor Legion, formed by Franco, Mussolini and Hitler to declare war on the Republican government of Spain, as well as to prepare techniques for their plans for world war.
Picasso learnt of the bombardment in a French newspaper report on 30th April 1937; on 1st May he began the creation of the piece he was to call Guernica, combining the name of the town of Gernika with the French word ‘guerre’ meaning ‘war’. This awe-inspiring piece of work, which Picasso said belongs to the Spanish Republic, was used as a publicity tool for the Republican cause, and it toured the world raising awareness, prevented by Picasso from remaining in a gallery until the overthrow of Franco. WCML have been most generous in helping us to trace elements of its journey to Manchester in 1939 and in providing us with material for our first talks and lecture.
Over the next few weeks we shall be updating you on the process of our Re-Making Guernica project, which has been exciting and inspirational.
Next up: who we are and why we decided to collaborate in order to Re-make Guernica.