Cartographies of Madrid: Contesting Urban Space at the Crossroads of the Global South and Global North

Cartographies of Madrid: Contesting Urban Space at the Crossroads of the Global South and Global North


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One of this book's goals is to evaluate the complex ways that Madrid has served as the political, economic, and cultural capital of the Global South from the end of the Franco dictatorship to the present. The other is to examine the city as lived experience, where citizens contest capital's push to shape urban space in its own image through activities of the imagination.

Scholars, investigative journalists, political activists, and a filmmaker combine to document the vast array of Madrid's grassroots movements.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826522153
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2018
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Silvia Bermúdez is Professor of Spanish in Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Anthony L. Geist is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington.

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"Madriz es mucho Madrid": The Capital Role of Graphic Arts in Identity Formation

Anthony L. Geist

Looking back from today, a decade and a half into the twenty-first century, when Spain is mired in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, with official unemployment figures standing around 25 percent and half the population between the ages of 18 and 35 never having held their first job, when young Spaniards by the thousands are leaving the country in search of work ... looking back from today, it is hard to remember or imagine that a scant 30 years ago the country experienced a cultural explosion. I think it's not by chance that this extraordinary cultural production coincided with an unprecedented economic boom under Felipe González's regime.

The Movida Madrileña, Spain's youth movement that made Madrid the cultural capital of Europe and its hippest city for a brief period in the mid-1980s, took place less than a decade after the death of Francisco Franco and that country's return to democracy in the wake of his thirty-seven-year dictatorship. It can be argued that Franco, the longest-lasting fascist dictator from the 1930s in Europe, had outlived his time. Beginning in the 1960s, with the influx of tour- ism and tourist dollars, Spain's economy became increasingly service oriented. Industrialists, traditionally among the regime's strongest supporters, began pressuring for greater political liberalization because they wanted access to the European Common Market.

At the same time, the European and American youth culture of sex, drugs, and rock and roll began to erode Spain's cultural isolation. The presence of suecas on the Mediterranean beaches had a profound effect, not just on Spanish men but on Spanish women as well. One example is the "guerra de los bikinis" (war of the bikinis) that took place in Zaragoza in 1970, which Agustín Sánchez Vidal recounts in Sol y sombra. On that occasion a policeman ordered a woman to cover her bikini-clad body at a public pool. The next day hundreds of women appeared in bikinis, and the municipal ordinance was changed.

Contemporary historian Santos Juliá has remarked on the sudden transformation of Spanish society following the death of the dictator. A friend wrote me from Madrid at the time that the first and most visible change was the appearance in newsstands, from one day to the next, of "revistas de culo y teta" (magazines featuring naked women).

Spain went from being a pre-democratic, pre-industrial, and only partially modern country to a democratic, postindustrial, postmodern nation virtually overnight. By postmodern I don't mean a particular cultural style or constellation of styles, or the so-called "end of Ideology" trumpeted by Fukuyama and George H. W. Bush in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rather, as Jameson (310) characterizes it, we can understand postmodernism as a "cultural dominant" that is neither monolithic nor hegemonic. It is the space where the contradictions of late capitalism (what Ernest Mandel identifies as the "third stage") are played out. In this regard, it is different from what Lyotard calls the "postmodern condition," distinguished by a crisis of knowledge. In a sense, postmodernism consists of the theorization of its own conditions of possibility in the enumeration of epistemological shifts and changes. Modernism also theorized the new, with the hope of giving birth to new worlds. But postmodernism registers the breaks, the unrelenting changes in systems of representation.

According to Jameson, the adjective modern gives rise to three nouns, closely related but clearly delimited: modernism, modernization, and modernity. Modernization refers to the particular stage of technological and industrial development of capitalist societies in the first decades of the twentieth century, while modernism is its cultural and aesthetic inflection. Modernity, then, is the awareness of the relationship between the first two terms, and their unequal development, the fact of which is more significant than any specific content. And it is precisely the distance between these two extremes that opens the space of modernity.

If you will allow me an analogy, just as Russia was the last place Marx would have predicted the Communist revolution to break out, Spain seemed an unlikely venue for the explosion of pomo culture that was the Movida. It can be argued that Spain's move from premodern to postmodern in the last decades of the twentieth century is key to identity formation — personal, generational, urban, national, cultural, aesthetic, and ideological — and recalls Habermas's concept of modernity as an incomplete project. The articulation of this recuperation of the project of modernity is particularly complex and fascinating in the realm of culture, both "high" and "low" (including the interrogation of this very binary).

The Spanish Civil War and its brutal aftermath sundered the country's project of modernity. Franco's control of the state apparatuses of production and reproduction during the nearly four decades of the dictatorship not only set the parameters of official discourse but also determined to a large extent the discourse of the opposition. This was as true in the realm of culture as it was in politics.

Juan Goytisolo refers to Franco as the "Monstrous Father of all Spaniards," a father who had to be killed. In many senses Franco was the metanarrative for 40 years, emitting, producing, and reproducing a master narrative. The end of the dictatorship and the return to democracy also meant the end of that narrative and created a vacuum of cultural power, rendering both official and oppositional discourses virtually meaningless. The response was a proliferation of different, often contradictory and competing, cultural expressions in music, literature, the arts, and popular culture vying to fill that vacuum. This unprecedented freedom of discourse was simultaneously dizzying and productive on the one hand and confusing on the other.

One of the most fascinating and productive phenomena to arise in the interstices of the complex crossing of these different cultural responses was the Movida. This bar and music scene was centered around the Plaza Dos de Mayo and the Plaza Santa Ana/Barrio de las Letras in Madrid, and brought together posmodernos and punquis, hippies and yuppies, squatters and students in a heady mix fueled by music, alcohol and sex, drugs and rock and roll. The soundtrack of the Movida was Alaska y los Pegamoides, Radio Futura, and later Joaquín Sabina. The scene found expression in cinema in the early films of Almodóvar (think of Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón). In the vortex of these different forces a new, postmodern discourse emerged.

Few cultural artifacts capture the look and feel of the explosion of culture released from the bonds of the dictatorship that was the Movida better than Madriz, a magazine devoted to comics and sponsored by the Youth Council of the Madrid city government under the leadership of El Viejo Profesor (the old professor), Mayor Enrique Tierno Galván (Fig. 1). Madriz published thirty- three issues between January 1984 and February 1987 and gave expression to the Movida in tebeos, or comics, drawn by a number of young artists, many of whom would later go on to become well known in the field.

In a nation struggling with the legacy of Antonio Machado's Two Spains ("Españolito que vienes / al mundo te guarde Dios. / Una de las dos Españas / ha de helarte el corazón" [Little Spaniard coming / to the world, God save you. / One of the two Spains / will freeze your heart]), I particularly like the cartoon by OPS (Andrés Rábago, better known today as El Roto) depicting Heraclitus going home (Fig. 2). You will recall that the Greek philosopher believed that the world is in constant flux. This drawing alludes to his assertion that you cannot set foot in the same river twice. Not only is the cartoon funny — Heraclitus looks down at the river as he crosses the bridge and finally flees when he realizes it's different from one moment to the next — but we can also take it as a metaphor for the profound changes taking place in Spanish society. Madriz played a key role in the identity formation of post-Franco Spain by depicting graphically the new street culture, sending back an image of the new Spaniards who rejected both of the old Spains.

The comic book art published in Madriz is part, consciously or not, of a larger project to recover lost or never- fulfilled modernity. But it is modernity re- visited from postmodernity, or modernism literally redrawn from a postmodern sensibility and aesthetic. Madriz was aware of its postmodern condition. In an introductory note to the second issue, the philosopher Ludolfo Paramio puts it this way:

A mi edad, por supuesto, no me pretendo posmoderno cuando me consta haber fracasado históricamente — como este país, dicho sea con perdón — en el intento de llegar a ser moderno. Pero creo que podríamos pasarlo mejor en este clima de fragmentación y múltiples referencias que en el viejo y asfixiante monoteísmo cultural que reinaba, en el poder y en la oposición, durante los recientes años de prehistoria. Hemos renunciado a la totalización y a la trascendencia. A cambio, podremos leer buenos tebeos y oír la música que nos guste. A ver si dura. (3)

(At my age, of course, I don't pretend to be postmodern when I am aware of having failed historically — like this country, I'm sorry to say — in the attempt to become modern. But I believe we can have more fun in this climate of fragmentation and multiple references than in the old, asphyxiating cultural monotheism that reigned, in those in power and in the opposition, during the recent years of prehistory. We have given up on totalization and transcendence. On the other hand, we can read good comics and listen to the music we like. Let's see if it lasts.)

Look, for instance, at the "Poema del suburbio" (Fig. 3). It begins with a stanza from a tango written by El Negro Celedonio, a poet and singer from turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires: "Yo no le canto al perfumado nardo / ni al constelado azul del firmamento, / Yo busco en el suburbio sentimiento. / Pa' cantarle a una flor, le canto al cardo" (38) (I do not sing to the perfumed spikenard / nor to the blue constellation of the firmament, / I look for feeling in the bohemian quarter. / If I want to sing to a flower, I'll sing to the thistle).

If we understand suburbio in the porteño sense of barrio bajo, home to bohemians, poets, artists, and their groupies, this gives us a context to read the drawing. In the panel on the left we see a woman on the toilet, with an inscription beneath: "El perfume de la Musa" (The perfume of the Muse). On the right a poet sits, dreaming of tropical seas, also with an inscription: "Incita al trovador a la aventura" (Incites the troubadour to adventure). The juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated portraits are linked ironically by the syntax of the captions, which echo the tango lyrics and between them frame the drawing conceptually. Throughout its three-year run, numerous artists reinscribe a number of dif- ferent themes and topics, from the rescripting of Greek mythology that we see in Javier de Juan's "Mitología para todos" (Mythology for everyone), in which Apollo, dressed in flamenco garb, approaches Vulcan's forge, where the workers are wearing the classic Spanish overalls, the mono azul. Either Apollo has come, the text tells us, to talk about a girl they're both pursuing on Mt. Olympus, or Jupiter has sent him to complain about the multicolored lightning bolts Vulcan is forging (48–49). Other comics also revisit Spanish history in the legendary figure of the bandido Luis Candelas or in the Dos de Mayo, the popular revolt against the French on May 2, 1808; only one vignette in the entire collection addresses the Spanish Civil War, and the Franco years are notable for their absence. In a postmodern pastiche, literature is often woven into the comics, from Lorca to Pessoa, the Carmina Burana to Edgar Allen Poe and Borges, including even a seventeenth-century Japanese haiku (Jordi Girben, 44–45).

In a complex dialectical two-step, Madriz both mirrors an emerging image of postdictatorial Spain and simultaneously helps create and shape that identity as well. Simply put: "This is what we look like, and this is what we should look like," creating and projecting ideal images to aspire to. Look, for example, at Javier de Juan's "Pequeño compendio de gentes vistas en la inauguración de una feria de arte, o sea 'Arco 84'" (Fig. 4) (Little compendium of people seen at the opening of an art fair — that is, "Arco 84"). They range from a "Neomoderno de camisa hagüallana (o como sea)" (Neomodern wearing a Hawaiian shirt [or whatever]) to "Pálidas y sofisticadas niñas de negro (glamur) (de estas había muchas)" (Pale and sophisticated girls dressed in black [glamour] [there were a lot of them]) and other types: "Matahembras en plan chulín" (Ladykillers strutting their stuff), "y señoras" (and ladies), "y embajadores" (and ambassadors), and finally "Punkos ingleses y transvanguardias italianos y esto es todo" (English punks and Italian transvanguards and that's all). In a kind of postmodern sleight of hand, the sequence — Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro (One, Two, Three, Four) — suggests a narrative structure. Yet the narration itself is not sequential; it goes nowhere. It simply ends: "y eso es todo" (and that's all). The crowd that LPO depicts at the Barón Rojo heavy metal concert in the centerfold, called "Zentrales," gives a vibrant representation of the Movida youth, in black leather jackets and with long hair (18–19).

The poster for the Semana de la Juventud (Youth Week) offers a perfect, if idealized, vision of a posmoderno, every detail bespeaking youth and hipness, from the broad-shouldered overcoat, the swept-back hair, and the cigarette perched in his lips to his stance, one foot cocked against the wall. He owns the street. Who wouldn't want to look like that? (Fig. 5) Examples abound in a diversity of styles and narrative contexts in every issue, but the figures depicted in Martín's "Modern Shit" amply and humorously represent the diverse tipos who populate Movida Madrid (13).

Finally, the image illustrating an essay on underground rock (which incidentally refers to an article Rolling Stone published on the Movida) is quite eloquent. Of particular interest is the quote from Alaska, one of the leading voices of the Movida music scene. She says: "La música sin moda es una mierda. A mí no me interesa la música como música. Me interesa como moda, revistas, leerla, tocarla, por todo lo que lleva alrededor. No me interesa un grupo sin imagen." (Diego A. Manrique 127) (Music without style is a piece of shit. Music as music doesn't interest me. It interests me a style, magazines, reading it, touching it, everything that surrounds it. A group without an image doesn't interest me).

Certainly the Movida is most readily identifiable through fashion. That's how we distinguish between pomos and punks: through their external signs of identity, as we've seen in the preceding portraits. On the one hand, the emphasis on the exterior speaks to a postmodern aesthetic of superficiality; the essence is the surface, in much the same way that in modernism form was content. On the other hand, this is more than just fashion or style. Better yet, fashion and style are the expression of an underlying ideology of the surface. Or, as Coco Chanel puts it, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."

All these characters move in and through an urban landscape. Virtually the only nonurban scenes we see are beaches during summer vacation. The city is retraced, Madrid redrawn as postmodern cityscape, itself sometimes the subject, at others a backdrop. Jorge Arranz's drawings of the capital are featured in nearly every issue of Madriz. This postmodern cartography maps the major arteries and landmarks of Madrid, from the evolution of the Puerta del Sol to the Paseo del Prado, from the Rastro to the Castellana. I think we can understand this obsessive remapping of Madrid as a reconfiguration and reappropriation of urban space (the okupa or squatters' movement was part and parcel of Movida-era Madrid), as a surveying of the terrain from a new perspective on property and ownership. This cartography is less concerned with changing the urban landscape than with resemanticizing it, changing its meanings, rewriting, in Saussurian terms, not the signifier but the signified.


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Table of Contents

Introduction Madrid as a Capital of the Global South and the Global North: Mapping Competing Cartographies and Spatial Resistance Silvia Bermúdez and Anthony L. Geist, ix,
Part I Capitalizing on Visual and Literary Cultures, and Challenging Urban Exclusion,
1 "Madriz es mucho Madrid": The Capital Role of Graphic Arts in Identity Formation Anthony L. Geist, 3,
2 Rebel Cities: Madrid and the Cultural Contestation of Space Malcolm Alan Compitello, 21,
3 Practices of Oppositional Literacy in the 15-M Movement in Madrid Jonathan Snyder, 49,
4 Acabar Madrid: "Future Perfect" Utopianism and the Possibility of Counter-Neoliberal Urbanization in the Spanish Capital Eli Evans, 71,
5 Trash as Theme and Aesthetic in Elvira Navarro's La trabajadora Susan Larson, 87,
Part II Sites of Memory,
6 Institutional Sites of Remembrance: Monuments and Archives of the 11-M Train Bombings Jill Robbins, 111,
7 The Politics of Public Memory in Madrid Now: From an "Olympic Capital of Impunity" to "Omnia sunt communia?" Scott Boehm, 125,
Part III Madrid as Lived Experience,
8 The Train That Gave Women a Voice Alicia Luna, 149,
9 Madrid Municipal Elections 2015: A Time of Change Rosa M. Tristán, 159,
10 Historical Perspectives: From Madrid as Villa y Corte to After Carmena, What? Edward Baker, 173,
Afterword Madrid and the Traps of Exceptionality Estrella de Diego and Luis Martín-Estudillo, 185,
Contributors, 193,
Index, 197,

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