Deep Space

de los

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 the 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 is a long-term investigative program initiated to deal with politics of memory, controversial monuments and heritage.

The workshop “Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos” was initiated and conceptualized in February 2018 by Hybrid Space Lab as an element of the long-term “Deep Space” exploration and intervention program.

Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos
25-27 October 2018

Medialab Prado
Plaza de las Letras 

Calle Alameda 15 

Thursday 25.10.18: Visit to Valle de los Caídos.
Leaving from Madrid at 9.00 and arriving at 10.15 at Valle de los Caídos for the 11:00 mass followed by an extensive guided tour of Valle de los Caídos.

Friday 26.10.18: all day workshop from 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 19.00 at Medialab Prado, Madrid.

Saturday 27.10.18: morning workshop from 10.00 to 13.30 at Medialab Prado, Madrid.

February 2019


25-28 Juni 2019
Memory Studies Association 

@ Complutense University of Madrid

Summer 2019

@ Het Nieuwe Instituut

On 25th August 2018 the Spanish government approved a decree to exhume Franco’s remains.

What transformations are still needed at Valle de los Caídos so as not to create a cenotaph – an empty burial monument?

Valle de los Caídos

The basilica-crypt, piercing the granite mountain, opens 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 remnants 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-signifying Valle de los Caídos” 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, juridical experts, psychologists and psychoanalysts.


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.


“Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos” aims to develop 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). As instruments, these tools also have a strong process-related dimension.

Hybrid (combined physical and digital) technology tools offer the possibility to process the transformation of  a monument without physical interference. Such tools include Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (XR), and Augmented Virtuality (AV).

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 such 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 monuments and heritage.


“Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos” 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 to the Valle de los Caídos transformation, while simultaneously helping to inform the possible direction and process for the further development of the “Deep Space” project.

Design Research

“Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos” is supported by the “re-Designing Affect Space” program, a fully independent collaborative design-research program facilitated by Eric Kluitenberg of the Cool Mediators Foundation in Amsterdam. The aim of the “re-Designing Affect Space” program is to question the transformation of public space under conditions of extreme technological and affective spatial hybridisation and densification from an explicitly extra-institutional perspective.



“Deep Space: re-signifying Valle de los Caídos” is initiated, organized, and curated by
Prof. Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Prof. Frans Vogelaar of Hybrid Space Lab.


Complementary to the discussions during the visit to Valle de los Caídos, following lectures introduce the workshop:

Marie-Louise Ryback-Jansen, Head of the “Contested Histories in Public Spaces Project” of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, The Hague, and former Director of the “Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Program” at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria:
“Contested Histories in Public Spaces: Challenges & Solutions”

Prof. Dr. William (Bill) Swartout, Chief Technology Officer, USC Institute for Creative Technologies, University of Southern California, Research Professor, Computer Science:
“Conversations with History: Supporting Interactive Dialogues with Holocaust Survivors”

Prof. Dr. Kyung Jin Zoh, Director of the Environmental Planning Institute, Department of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Seoul National University:
“Facing North Korea: The Observatory Project”

Prof. Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Prof. Frans Vogelaar of Hybrid Space Lab:
“Deep Space and Re-signifying Valle de los Caídos workshop”


Joris van Ballegooijen
, Coordinator Digital Culture and Transmedia, Creative Industries Fund NL, interested in the design and the digital/transmedia storytelling perspective on controversial cultural heritage

Dr. Isabel Cadenas Cañón
, Writer, Audio Producer and Scholar, Professor of Cultural History and Memory at New York University-Madrid, and Tufts-Skidmore Spain; both her research and her art focus on how to forge subversive ways of memory, always from a feminist-materialist approach

Dr. Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), interested in the archival and technical cultures of urban social movements

Silvia Fernández, Regional Program Manager – Europe and Asia, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, interested in multidisciplinary approaches to dealing with the past

Dr. Francisco Ferrándiz, Anthropologist, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), former Member of the official governmental Commission of Experts on the Future of the Fallen in 2011

Marcos García Cristobal, Artistic Director Medialab Prado

Dr. Alfredo González-Ruibal, Archeologist, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), working on the archaeology of the contemporary past and conducting archaeological work on the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship

Dr. Marije Hristova, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and Founding Member of the association Memoria en Red which organizes debates, exhibitions and events related to the topic of remembrance

Prof. Dr. María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, Director of the Art History Department, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, and Curator of the exhibition Campo Cerrado (Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2016), a review of Spanish art and culture in the first years of Franco’s dictatorship

Dr. Lidia Mateo Leivas, Coordinator of “IMPRESSIONS. A memory process workshop”, Art Historian, Cultural Critic and Researcher, Founding Member of Memorias en Red, interested in memory, radical imagination, visuality, and the transmission of knowledge

Dr. Francisco Orengo, M.D, Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and Psychotraumatologist, Specialist in Forensic Psychiatry, Author of articles on the so-called “Historic memory Law” as well as processes of grief in traumatized societies through war and catastrophes, former Board Member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS) and Leader of the Human Rights task force

Dr. Marina Otero Verzier
, Architect and Researcher, Director of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and Curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Prof. Dr. Matthias Rauterberg, Chair “Designing Interactive Systems”, Co-founder of the Industrial Design Department and Data Science Center at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and of the Technical Committee of Entertainment Computing of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP)

Miguel Rodríguez Cruz, Member of Basurama, a creative studio devoted to bring circular economy solutions in architecture, art, and design for the abundance of waste, dysfunctional urban spaces, abandoned infrastructures, decadent monuments, and other by-products of mass consumption society

Marie-Louise Ryback-Jansen
, Head of the “Contested Histories in Public Spaces Project” of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, The Hague, and former Director of the “Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Program” at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria

Dr. Timothy W. Ryback
, Director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, The Hague, former Deputy Secretary General of the Académie Diplomatique, Paris, has written extensively on the intersection between culture and politics

Fernando Sanchez Castillo, artist

Prof. Dr. Margriet Schavemaker, Manager Education, Interpretation and Publications at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Professor of Media and Art in Museum Practice at the University of Amsterdam

Prof. Dr. William (Bill) Swartout, Chief Technology Officer, USC Institute for Creative Technologies, University of Southern California, Research Professor, Computer Science

Prof. Susana Velasco, Architect, Professor in Graphic Ideation at the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Madrid; she researches architecture as a place of mediation between two scales: that of the body and that of the territory; her work seeks to give a materiality to the links between the communities and the landscape they inhabit

Prof. Dr. Frank van Vree, Director of NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Professor of History of War, Conflict and Memory, University of Amsterdam

Prof. Dr. Kyung Jin Zoh, Director of the Environmental Planning Institute, Department of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Seoul National University, Head of “Facing North Korea, The Observatory Project” on the Korean Demilitarized Zone


With a lot of thanks for their advise to the curators Ferran Barenblit, Chris Dercon, and Hendrik Folkerts.