Red and Black Stripe, 2016
Vídeo monocanal, 19 min, 15 seg.
Pintura al temple, medidas variables
A photograph taken by the photographer Walter Reuter at the Workers’ Institute in Valencia shows some pupils in a classroom and a two-tone stripe on the walls. Although the photograph is in black and white, one can sense from the tone that the colours are red and black. As the Institute was a highly politicised place with a mixture of different Popular Front tendencies, it is very likely that it was painted by pupils in sympathy with the CNT (National Confederation of Labour).
After visiting the building where the Workers’ Institute was located and finding the classroom that appears in the photograph, the next step was to find the stripe by scraping the walls. Two IVAM restorers assisted in this search by making various tests on the layers of paint that had accumulated. After some hard work they came to the conclusion that if no trace remained of the stripe it was because the original paint – tempera – had been zealously scraped off by the Jesuits when they took over the build- ing again after the war.
Red and Black Stripe consists of an installation comprising a video that shows the fruitless search for the red and black stripe, and a mural painting – made with the tempera technique – that replicates the stripe that did not appear in the tests made by the restorers.
The painting of the perimeter of the skylight in the IVAM’s Gallery 6 in the colours of the CNT has been done as an act of territorialisation of institutional space, in the knowledge that it can only be an empty, minimalist, purely aesthetic gesture devoid of any political significance. In the years of the Civil War, marking a place or a vehicle with the colours of the CNT indicated its collective appropriation, and, if one was stopped by the members of the Francoist side, carrying anything that bore those colours could lead to death.