FERNANDO SÁNCHEZ CASTILLO
“Tiempo Libre” (Free Time) delves into how an individual stuck in a structure built on discipline and control can find strategies and moments for freedom, and how play can become an element of rule-breaking and a creator of meaning.
There are basically three projects that approach this circumstance in a sweeping, heterodox manner, based on play as a strategy, on the theatrical as an attempt at creating a parallel reality, and on the absence of any author at all, or at least on collective authorship.
In the first project, titled “Souvenir”, play occurs with the image of death as a space for freedom. In the second, called “Stone Soul Army”, the game is formal in the music at the heart of a traditional army. Finally, in the third, “Made in China”, the toy becomes an element of resistance and a truly popular monument, and turns into a clandestine memorial in everyone’s hands.
In the mental climate accompanying the whole presentation we find:
Johan Huizinga said about play that “it is most of all a free activity… carried out “as such” and felt as if it were beyond the realm of normal life” (Homo Ludens). The same is true of Toni Negri as well when he talks of controlled subjectivities, and Deleuze with the act of creation as an act of resistance.
Souvenir is a set of amateur photographs purchased on eBay and whose fundamental theme is soldiers who reflect and play, mainly about the theme of dying and killing.
The photos have been enlarged by a factor of 4x, as if to monumentalize a private moment we can identify with despite the difference in time periods. The need for an image of death itself is the origin of these representations. Often playful or comical, their characters are almost always grinning or are taken by the absurd.
Most of the photos were meant for family or friends, or for the person’s own use, and are from the First World War. The men have lost their identity as individuals, as citizens, and have been turned into soldiers exposed to the mechanization of military industrial technology. The soldier becomes an insignificant number in the logic of contemporary destruction. As a personal space-moment outside of discipline, perhaps the only thing remaining is the heroic moment of death. Facing death head-on, or rather, in anticipation of it, with a silly image is the man’s only victory over it.
In the day and age of technical reproduction of images, photography conquers the amateur’s point of view, which once again is that of the individual. Of no interest here are photos by professionals, with their archetypical bias. Rather, each one here is able to produce his souvenir of his own death.
These reflections are written out on the back of the pictures in “free time”. This is the time to entertain oneself, to dally in that ownerless space, a place for portraying teleological truths. The photograph as an object becomes a miniature element for fun, and thus enters the entertainment society. It is a needed drill simulated in the space of destruction and the real world.
Apart from the theatrical portrayals of the last moments of life, the collection also focuses on capturing the origins of violence. A group of soldiers pose seemingly peacefully, and yet one of them is pointing a gun at the other or about to punch him. Foundational crime depicting contemporary life is another theme that has interested me greatly.
The contemporary consumption of photographs purchased on a screen by sent by mail speaks of the deconstruction brought about by the internet marketplace on the personal files and stories of individuals, only offered up as merchandise for collectors of the bizarre.
The project is “diverted” towards other parallels in the transit between life and death and its conflict. Other series focus whimsically and structurally on themes such as the passage of organic to inert (soldiers moving their bowels), the parallelism between the life of a soldier and animals, soldiers sleeping, or childhood.
2/ Stone Soul Army
Centered on this leitmotiv of personal space within a power structure such as the army, this project was carried out at the bases in Las Palmas and El Callao of the Peruvian Air Force.
Working for them and their marching bands is musicologist and composer Abraham Padilla. Commissioned with improving the skills of the musicians in the bands, Abraham started from scratch in teaching harmony, rhythm and union with the instrument, and he came up with a system of notation and composition for elements as simple as rocks and bones.
This way achieves a re-education of the primal weapons by diverting them toward the conciliatory field of art and music, as if they had never been used as weapons in human history.
My proposal to Abraham and the PAF was to create compositions and study the sounds of contemporary weapons. Thus, canons, missiles, and helicopters were explored for their musicality and resonance in an attempt to use them for sound purposes instead of for the sad purpose they were created for. The final scenes are taken in the Presidential helicopter of Colonel Humala. These vocational musicians find the financial peace of mind that lets them create their space for personal and poetic growth.
A few pieces based on the first weapon cited in the Bible and used by Peruvian musicians (i.e., donkey jawbones) are turned into metal musical instruments. Perhaps the first musical sound was Cain’s jawbone on Abel’s head (First Instruments).
Another piece, this one called First Weapon, poses several ergonomic improvements on this foundational element of crime, art and history.
3/ Made in China (installation)
In 1989, a student faced down a column of tanks that were rolling into Tiananmen Square, where thousands of students were demonstrating for opening up China to democracy.
That progress in democracy has been hushed by the economic progress made over the last 25 years. No one knows what became of that young man, popularly known as Tank Man.
This installation is made up of 5000 small Tank Men made of industrially injected plastic. Much like the terracotta army in Xian, these small students with their book bags are colored green like peaceful soldiers. 5000 is the approximate death toll from those days in June.
The figures were secretly made in China via a company created not to leave any personal traces, and even now the manufacturers themselves have no idea about their origin. Censors have removed any role models for their citizens, so it is easy to manufacture in a system in which the only thing that matters is economic growth.
The aim of the project is to be a memorial that is easy to hide from the eyes of power, something that can travel from hand to hand, from pocket to pocket or from house to house without raising suspicion.
This truly popular monument within every person’s reach uses the very machinery that is covering up social demands.
The figures were given faces by digitalizing 6 Chinese students in Madrid who volunteered to pose in front of a 3D scanner. Their identities are kept absolutely secret.
Fernando Sánchez Castillo
Galería juana de aizpuru. barquillo 44, 28004 madrid. España. T: 34-913105561; fax: 34-913195286. e-mail: email@example.com