The artist Fernando Sánchez Castillo examines the efficacy of history and historicity in films, sculptures, and performances. He scrutinizes the propagandistic mechanisms of memorials as well as of politi-cal myths, revealing their workings by means of in part satirical interventions. Sánchez Castillo is presenting his most recent work, Guernica Syndrome (2012). Under the artist’s supervision, the Azor, former dictator Francisco Franco’s pleasure yacht, was dismantled and turned into a multipart metal sculpture. Its conversion was also documented on film.Fernando Sánchez Castillo: Guernica Syndrome, 2012
Sánchez Castillo often uses concrete traces from the past as a point of departure and as the material for his analyses and transformations. With Guernica Syndrome, however, the artist explores an extremely charged relic of recent Spanish history that places the focus on events that have been forgotten or have not been dealt with. The yacht was a symbol of power and Franco’s political stage: he held important political discussions on board the boat, and in 1948 he met here several times with Juan de Borbón, Spain’s heir to the throne. In 1985, a huge scandal ensued after Minister President Felipe González spent his summer vacation on the Azor. The state acquired it at an auction for a small price on the condition that it would be subsequently scrapped. However, the new owner attempted to market the boat as an attraction, to establish it as an event location and political Mecca, yet his enterprise was unsuccessful. Fernando Sánchez Castillo finally bought the Azor in 2011 and had it dismantled to create a multipart sculpture consisting of more than forty blocks of metal, the boat’s mast, two benches, and additional individual parts that are now setting out on “the last trip.” In this new form and function, Franco’s historically and emotionally charged yacht makes formal reference to Minimal Art and its pursuit of logic and objectivity. At the same time, Guernica Syndrome inquires into the strategies of dealing with the past as well as of the suppression and glorification of history. How do power and its staging influence the present? How does Franco’s dictatorship continue to impact Spain and its population?