santiago sierra It is one of the highlights of the new edition number 17. Cool Days Festival. An installation on Plaça del Conqueridor in Artà that cries out against the migration drama in the Mediterranean.
What draws you to a festival like Cool Days?
I know there was Regina last year [José Galindo] and the fact that he has just introduced plastic arts in the festival’s programming made me very happy. Also, it seems to me that the ground is not irrelevant, it has magnetism and the power to raise things.
What did you decide to upgrade?
Well, work with what’s here, with the 1000-liter water barrels that are so abundant in the field. In the end, the work became a bit of a choir, because the neighbors, the small industrialists cooperate. I really like the idea of public participation in the making of a piece. There are times when you almost get the job to the venue by helicopter, in which case no, it just showed up here and pretended it was the most natural thing in the world.
How did the idea to build a wall of 171,000 books of water from the Mediterranean come about in the middle of the town of Artà?
Its origin is the pronunciation of a metaphor. Rio Bravo is a wall like the Mediterranean. What we can say on a metaphorical level is that with sculpture you can suddenly make it real, making the metaphor visible, invisible to those who effectively divide the square and generally do.
It’s not the first wall he’s built.
The wall is an element that defines our time very well. Actually, my work begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall. This marked me a lot. I built many walls with this military character, like in Wiesbaden. [en la Bienal]The 333-meter-long prefabricated bastion was wrapped in containers and taken out within minutes to divide the district. Or the sadism that I did in London, that gets into your skin with a very bad barbed wire and destroys you… These are works done with a sense of applying the libertarian ideology against the borders, against the people it applies. hinders the movement against barbarism of those who seek a better life. Because if we understand solidarity and mutual aid as a civilization, what we have now is pure barbarism, especially with what they call first world countries.
A barbarism that seems to have no end.
I think things will only get worse. Times will get a lot crazier as resources run out. No need to worry they could be deployed and scrutinize the path so everyone can access everything, but that’s not the way things are in the world and I guess three or four of them will keep it and the rest will try to do it. they run away from their situation, and this will go on and on. For example, the migrations we are currently witnessing from Central America to North America are unprecedented and have happened since the entire powder keg of the Middle East was shaken by the war in Syria. Right now, those who erect borders, walls, barbed wire, and weapons are happier than ever before. It seems that we are in the age of sadism with a sadistic regime, no longer the denial of solidarity and mutual aid, only in this way can the difficulties and the desire to sink in. In this environment where we are talking only about war, about a problem, I also liked to open up the purpose a little bit. The truth is very complex. Being silent about the many wars and situations that can stir our empathy, such as in Mexico, where it is easier to kill than in a war zone, says a lot about institutionalized racism, belonging to a military organization. It is clear that what we are absorbing is NATO propaganda.
Does art serve to break down barriers?
No. Artists can’t do much. We do this because birds are chirping and artists are making art and we are talking about what we think, but reality is so well armed with nuclear weapons and cops and batons and walls. Art can do very little. I had the impression that we were in a car at full speed with a crazy driver who was going to hit us and there was nothing we could do. I think we are in that situation. This civilization pantomime we’re mounting is in an existential crisis. Everything seems to go to hell.
Maybe one day we will rebel and change the situation.
We can be too comfortable. I believe revolutions are over and those responsible have the smartest, strongest people. We’re too screwed up to change anything.
Do you feel like an artist in the trenches?
I am a dissident western artist. Because I am anti-Spanish, those who like it in the West are usually Chinese or Cuban dissidents. Every country handles opposition differently.
It was recently established in neighboring Menorca. Are you accusing Mallorca of the island of calm, the island of millionaires, cement and corruption in the face of the horrors of immigrants?
Who will I blame? I blame the state and the capital for everything, actually I think it shouldn’t be. People really have a big problem here, living in a beautiful place seems like a sentence. I don’t understand where the nurses, the waiters, the house builders will live. If everything is tourism and everything is worth a fortune… What is the future, millionaires drinking with each other?
He was always controversial, even in prison he ruined everything with the tails of hunger.
It was a little work for two years. The last work I did was criticized a lot. We came out of the pandemic and started recording hunger queues in Madrid that had not been seen since the post-war period. I made this public and they started saying they want to benefit, they want to make money from the pandemic. Working in Spain is that they give you wax for everything.
When they give you wax, is it a sign that you’re on the right track?
Sure, they bark, then we get on. What happens is that I have a difficult situation because I too have to manage to keep on living, selling. And that makes it a little difficult for you. For example, when they waxed me for the piece about Political Prisoners, the truth is that it came in very handy because no one talked about it and the next day all of Spain spoke, they even had to invent a new term, political prisoners, like reversing what I said. I like it. But sometimes they suffocate you, as with ninot. [del rey Felipe VI] That’s what we do at ARCO. The drowning was such a thing that we couldn’t sell it. It was in the state’s interest not to be sold. And for this, everything possible was done, even the director of ARCO appeared in the media saying that it should not be bought.
Does ARCO have closed doors?
ARC can’t. I have galleries going to ARCO and will continue to go. But of course they won’t be easy for me.
Do you attend ARCO as a spectator?
No, I don’t like it. Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy used to say that art fairs are like watching your parents fuck. So you know it exists but you prefer not to see it. It is a pity that ARCO is the most important artistic event in Spain.
Do you work with music?
I’ve done a few albums, but they sound like in Europe. On the one hand, the European anthem sounds diabolical; and on the other side all the marches of Europe at once, a beautiful scandal. I use sound as I use objects in architecture because of its symbolic load, its effect.
Do you like Albert Pla, another controversial artist?
Yes, I saw him in Menorca last summer and I liked that he started by saying “good night Madrid”. And he sang “every man to himself, bombs are falling on Madrid”. My tears fell. Albert Pla has the ability to move you with politics. I like your offer.
Are you comfortable living in a city like Madrid?
When fascism entered Madrid, they sang the song “we are long gone”. And they have long passed, they have remained in Madrid, this is their city of fronts, horror. And they win and they win and they win and we know what they’re up to, they’re thieves, people with a patrimonial understanding of the State, everything is theirs and the rest of us are the rabble that deserves to be excluded and marginalized. Be Ayuso or whoever. If they take it from you, they’ll set you up with another scoundrel. Criminals are produced in the Salamanca area.
At the Teatre d’Artà, some of his works will be the protagonists of a screening, such as ‘126 photos of the teeth of immigrants in Tijuana’ or ‘National flag in blood’. Does Santiago Sierra have a flag or would you rather be alone with a stick?
As long as there are flags, I will wave the libertarian black flag against the others. It is a temporary flag.
Have you ever been threatened?
You don’t need to care so much. I think normal. I have a smoky mail, but that’s how it is in Spain, I’m used to it now. The fronts seem to be good here.