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Art & Social Space
Chronicle of a Civil War inscribed on the Skin of a City
by Marcelo Expósito

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The “economic stability” and “democratic development” in which a predatory machine such as BBVA places its trust mean subjecting the people’s sovereignty to the economic power of banking and financial circles through structurally weak or corrupt government systems in countries with a disciplined labor force in an unregulated labor market that smacks of neo-slavery. The structural reforms that economic powers-that-be are imposing in order to overcome the “crisis” are promoting civil war among society’s middle and lower classes. One of the most significant virtues that the 15M Movement will have to learn is how to continue acting peacefully in the midst of that war. However, our pacifism needs to become increasingly offensive: fear, anguish, anxiety, the sad passions of the crisis, need to be put on the other foot. It’s not Josefa’s privacy or her precarious situation that should be exposed to the public light, but the inner workings of criminal entities and individuals such as Francisco González. I have searched Google for information on a referendum or general election or any other mechanismthat provides legitimacy to a banker who subjugates the will of the people by determining the policies of governments who are at his feet. We must counteract the arrogance of those annihilating powers that are out of all democratic control.

I go home. The neighborhood remains peaceful, with people walking slowly, made drowsy by the heat. It would seem that this morning’s tranquility and now at midday isthe norm, and that the action in which I have just taken part is the exception. I think how misleading appearances can be: what we just experienced on Primavera Street is actually the rule rather than the exception in a systemic war that occasionally comes up like a rash on the city’s skin.

I decide to continue the action symbolically on my own. I want to provide an outlet for disobedience, make a point. In the afternoon I head to downtown Seville, looking for the BBVA head offices. On the way I photograph a sign: “Apartments from bank foreclosures for sale. 100% mortgages granted.” A sector of the real-estate market is dependent on evictions from unpaid mortgage payments. Debt-ridden families that cannot meet the monthly payments are left homeless, but even so are expected to continue paying astronomical debts for the rest of their lives. Such homes are adjudicated to banking institutions for a much lower price than their real market value, and the banks then place them for sale again for a higher amount. The same bank offers the families that acquire them the opportunity of enjoying… a mortgage loan.

I reach the BBVA building. I observe the haughtiness of its architecture, the stupidity of its columns signifying a classic power that seems to say: I’ve been here for ever and ever, I’m a culture that is above politics and history. There are markings on the skin of that building too: the bank’s acronym in chunky aluminum letters, surrounded by a halo of light. Two large plasma TV screens frame the logo, and under the columns broadcast the representations of the social ideal (“economic stability and democratic development”) that make up a bank’s imaginary: young urban entrepreneurs and blond, white-skinned families. There’s something wrong from this image.

I shoot some photos. I’ll do the montage work that the press and TV haven’t done. Without humanity, tersely: later I want to contrast them with the working-class social-housing blocks subjected to real-estate speculation. With the chronicle of a civil war written by hand on a house on Primavera Street. With the faces and expressions of those who are my brothers as of this morning.

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