Deep Space

Re-signifying
Valle

de los
Caídos

How to transform and re-signify Valle de los Caídos (“Valley of the Fallen”), the Francoist monument in the Sierra de Guadarrama close to Madrid?

Valle de los Caídos with its 152-meter-tall cross visible from more than 30 kilometers away, and its “basilica”, a 263-meter long crypt with a 52-meter high vault cut out of the granite mountain rock, is one of the world’s most controversial monuments.

The structure was built between 1940 and 1959 partly by forced labor of Spanish republican political prisoners. Next to the remains of over 33.000 fallen from both sides of the conflict (that were moved there from mass graves spread all over the country), the basilica features Franco’s grave in its most prominent spot – and next to it the grave of the Falangist leader Antonio Primo de Rivera.

Deep Space was initiated and conceptualized in Februari 2018 by Hybrid Space Lab in the framework of the “(Re-)Designing Affect Space” international program organized by Eric Kluitenburg, Amsterdam.

Workshop
Fall 2018

@ To Be Announced
Madrid

Presentation
Spring 2019

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Rotterdam

Discussion
Presentation
Februari 2019

Transmediale Berlin

Valle de los Caídos

The basilica-crypt, piercing the granite mountain, is open to an esplanade with scenic landscape views. Access to the Valle de los Caídos monument is provided by ‘pilgrimage’-style paths and drives, which are embedded within a sophisticated large-scale landscape design in a terrain that still holds remains of the barracks of the prisoners of war.

Over the past few years, there has been an intensifying discourse and controversial public debate in Spanish society and politics about the transformations needed to be pursued at Valle de los Caídos. Nevertheless there has been no artistic approach to find new possibilities and paths to transform and reinterpret Valle de los Caídos.

Deep Space re-signifies Valle de los Caídos and aims at developing creative processes, concepts, and ideas that can break through and transform the symbolic power of the place. The program focuses on artistic/architectural/landscape/media proposals and creative processes that develop future visions, breaking through the biased discussion.

Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos derives its strength from the potential of an “outsider” approach that can bring a new perspective to a contentious and intractable situation. The workshop includes creative sessions and discussions bringing together Spanish and international creative professionals (such as architects, designers, artists, sound artists, performers, theatre makers), theoreticians, historians, ethnologists, forensic archeologists, heritage and cultural studies experts, and psychoanalysts.

Questions

Complementary to the general public discussion circling mainly around the correct location for the remains of Francisco Franco and Antonio Primo de Rivera, the “Deep Space: Re-signifying Valle de los Caídos” workshop focuses on – the mostly anonymous – ‘fallen’ and on the convicted that hauled up the lumps of rock.

Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock? …

From “Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters” (“Questions from a Worker Who Reads”) by Bertolt Brecht, 1935; translation by Michael Hamburger: Brecht, Bertolt, Poems 1913-1956, Methuen, New York/London 1976.

Tools

The workshop aims at developing creative tools for dealing with such a controversial monument. These tools can be of very different character and be spatial – physical, digital or hybrid (combined physical and digital), including Augmented Virtuality (AV), a subcategory of mixed (hybrid) reality which refers to predominantly virtual spaces, where physical elements, e.g. physical objects or people, are dynamically integrated into, and can interact with, the virtual world in real time. As instruments, these tools also have a strong process-related dimension. The workshop creates framework where international experiences with such instruments can inform the Valle de los Caídos transformation process. At the same time, the focus on a concrete and very actual case study as Valle de los Caídos, provides the opportunity to develop insights that are of a more general relevance for dealing with controversial monuments and heritage.

Processes

The workshop develops an inspirational atmosphere where creative professionals and experts reflect on a typology of creative/artistic proposals. A typology of proposed tools functions as a test environment for opening up perspectives related with the Valle de los Caídos transformation as well as with the possible direction and process for the further development of the “Deep Space” project.