Red and White Tensegrity, 2016
Madera, hierro, cable, 170 x 450 x 220 cm
The Soviet Pavilion that the architect Melnikov constructed for the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925 was painted red, white and grey. It is not really known why the same colours predominated in the Spanish Pavilion, or why the columns were painted red and white. The idea may have come from the architect Luis Lacasa, who seems to have been in charge of the ideological part of the Pavilion. In this supposedly veiled tribute to the USSR we must bear in mind that Lacasa was familiar with and admired the Russian architect’s Constructivist work – which was also conceived as an instrument of propaganda – and we also cannot ignore his communist affiliation or his involvement with the 5th Regiment, in which he carried out agitprop activities.
Red and White Tensegrity consists of three columns identical to the ones that supported the Spanish Pavilion, but with the difference of being suspended in the air by means of tensioned cables, so that the intersection of the forms and the contrast of the colours recalls Constructivist compositions. It is worth noting that the Constructivist Karl Ioganson had been experimenting with spatial forms and structures of this kind since the 1920s, long before Buckminster Fuller attributed the paternity of “tensegrity” to himself in the 1960s.
The colours red and white can also be associated with tension and conflict. In his propaganda poster Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge El Lissitzky used these colours to symbolise the fight of the “red army” against the “white army”, represented by conservatives and monar- chists, a confrontation similar to what we experienced in the Spanish Civil War.