Independent Study Program (2008-2009) Research workshop

The projects brought together in this room are not presented as an exhibition in the usual way; rather, they should be seen as a cross-section in an ongoing research process launched under the current two-year Independent Study Program (2008-2009), whose directors are Beatriz Preciado and Xavier Antich. The objective of the workshop was to explore areas of artistic production that, due to their proximity to sexual and gender politics and popular culture in the 1970s and 80s, had been ignored – if not completely, then at least partially – by the dominant historiography.

During the final years of the dictatorship, the legal system began to specialize in preparation for a possible global uprising of the “sexual minorities” (feminist revolution, May ‘68, establishment of the first gay movements in the United States, France, Italy, etc.). To this end, in June 1970, on the advice of Pilar Primo de Rivera, the Law on Dangerousness and Social Rehabilitation (LPRS) was passed. The LPRS, yet another legal provision helping to form a network of control that spread over the entire social fabric, defines a new group of dangerous political subjects (in the language used by the dictatorship: “homosexuals”, “passive effeminates”, “long-hairs”, “queers”, “whores”, “drug-addicts” and “vagabonds”). These, using scant, puny arms (bodies, sexualities, pleasures) seemed to be holding to ransom the hard core of National Catholicism, which acted like a machine, channeling desire through highly restricted circuits.

The four projects presented here survey a series of practices for protest and visual and performative production that emerged in response to these specific biopolitical control measures brought to bear by National Catholicism, and to oppose what Teresa M. Vilaròs calls the “de-politicization” and “de-historicizing” of the transition and its historiographic narratives. These four critical explorations, accompanied by projects in which cartographies are constructed and blogs created, seek to generate readings in recent history that, by insisting on the centrality of the body, performance, popular culture and alternative publications, can act as counterpoints in the landscape of dominant art historiography. Countering the predominant ideas and timescales promoted by US historiography, we stress the need to formulate new concepts and periods that emerge directly from feminist, gay, lesbian and transsexual practices in Spain, from the specific context created by the dictatorship and the transition to democracy, as well as networks of cultural translation that generate local critical historiography.

The way the projects are organized spatially serves merely as an index or trace that enables users to access the different techniques used (interview, film montage, blog construction, audio-route, cartography, etc.) and provides a gateway to an archive-under-construction.


To the Street! Audio-route of 70s Underground Barcelona
By Carla Arenas, Caroline Giffard and Miguel López

This project proposes a rethink of certain areas in the city through their aesthetic and cultural manifestations. Its particular concern is how the body and certain ways of occupying the space transform the environment and create politicized enclaves that affect architecture and the public sphere in Barcelona. To this end, an audio-route has been set up, linking interviews and testimonies by leading players from those days to places and events, generating a political and poetic topography of Barcelona in the 70s.

Firstly, this route traces a path through various spaces – from bars to art studios – that provided venues for meeting, discussion and independent collective production, operating as forums for active political debate or small working communes, around fanzines and magazines like El Rollo Enmascarado, Piraña Divina and Ajoblanco, for instance.

Secondly, the focus falls on a number of political events and episodes from social life that implied collective position-taking by these groups. These episodes include the execution of MIL (Iberian Liberation Movement) militant Salvador Puig Antich in 1974, and mass events with anarchist leanings that combined free love, drugs, debate and music, such as the Canet Rock festival in 1975 and the Libertarian Conference in 1977. Similarly, acknowledgement is made of the first clandestine gay groups, who fought for sexual freedom and the repeal of the Law on Dangerousness and Social Rehabilitation, such as the FAGC, and the first gay demonstration in 1977.

The third and final section centers on two episodes that took place during the transition years and illustrate the processes of normalization and repression associated with democracy. These are, firstly, the incarceration of Ocaña and Nazario in the Modelo prison in 1977 and, secondly, the appearance in 1979 of a magazine like El Víbora, which definitively carried the 70s scene from its “alternative” environment into the commercial mainstream. By 1981, Nazario announced the death of the underground, as the establishment had gradually turned it into a harmless cliché.

Political forms in Andalusia in the 70s and 80s
By Aimar Arriola, Maribel Escobar, Emma Herbin, Nancy Garín, Pilar Muñoz and Alicia Viana

The main objective of this research project in progress is to propose a rereading of various dissident cultural practices in Andalusia in the 1970s and 80s.

To this end, interviews were conducted with different personalities – militants, activists, artists, cultural producers, etc. – who have maintained a radically political stance in their activities right up to the present, and who can play a key role in orienting us within a context of such great movement and complexity as the geopolitical space in Andalusia. This fieldwork laid the foundations for building up an archive of materials from left-wing, gay rights and feminist groups that were intensely active in the 1970s and 80s.

In this process of constructing the common memory, emphasis is placed on the affective powers under which what we call “political forms” were given consistency. These forms and powers clash and contrast with official narratives that affirm that politics was exhausted after the fall of the Franco regime, and with those who criticize an alleged poverty of practices within the context of the dictatorship.

Transition Trans
By Alberto Gómez,
In cooperation with Ana Marchante and Ricardo Cançado

This project seeks to show the relations between political history and subversion of sexual identities through the appearance of transvestitism in independent films made in Spain in the 1970s. In a context of political, cultural and sexual rotation, three extremes – the briefly reborn libertarian movement, polymorphic Barcelona counterculture, and the revolt of symbolic transvestite subversion – converge. Here we see the most intense face of the Barcelona of those times, which reaches its maximum expression in that “lawless” two-year period from 1976 to 1977.

The proliferation of performance of the transvestite gender shows gender to be a cultural construct, but it can also act as a trope for the transvestitism of the Franco regime into democracy. Its many-faceted appearance turns the gender’s cross-dressing, hyper-feminization and use of gesture as spectacle into an aesthetic and political index in which the body is a text that challenges private and public forms of identity.

Since 1972, the Gazolines in France have written this text (which the Spanish director Adolfo Arrieta, amongst others published in his films). A few years later, in Barcelona, Ocaña, with his street theatricals, was a unique figure: that of the countercultural transvestite who subverts their own transvestite performance. The Transition Trans project seeks out other, many-sided appearances of trans (transvestitism, cross-dressing, transsexualism) in films by independent directors during the Spanish transition.

Counterfield 70
By Tamara Díaz Bringas, Emma Herbin, Fernanda Nogueira, Linda Valdés and Juliane Debeusscher

This project takes as its reference certain proposals by the artist Fina Miralles, as well as critical, exhibition and historiographic practices that have conditioned their reception since they emerged in Spain in the 1970s. In a way, through the friction generated by archive material, interviews and references, the audiovisual produced seeks to portray these practices as a field in which multiple forces cross, leading us to explore different questions, not only about the decade marked by the end of the Franco dictatorship and the beginning of the transition, but also – above all – about the present. The issues the project examines include, for example, the unstable condition of the archive, the precarious limits of the document, the processes that generate subjectivity, the relations between public space, architecture and power, and the friction between the rural and the urban, amongst others. The idea of counterfield resides in the between, or the outside, those excluded places that interrogate certain theoretic, historiographic and institutional approaches. The project represents an attempt to go beyond pre-established frameworks whose homogeneity hides a complex fabric of relations. Bringing together the results of ongoing research, Counterfield 70 suggests other possible articulations between artistic practices and their production and distribution contexts.

Antonio Gagliano drew up the Cartographies and Ana Marchante created the blogs.

With the collaboration of:


From March 3 to March 6, 2010
Projects presentation space open from 5 to 9 pm (Sunday closed). Aula 0

Wednesday, March 3, at 7 pm
Opening, general presentation of workshop and presentation of the project Cartographies
Presentation of the project Transition Trans

Thursday, March 4, at 7 pm
Presentation of the project Audio-route of 70s Underground Barcelona, attended by Onliyú and Nazario

Friday, March 5, at 7 pm
Presentation of the project Political forms in Andalusia in the 70s and 80s, attended by Miguel Benlloch, Joaquín Vázquez and María José Belbel

Saturday, March 6, at 7 pm
Presentation of the project Counterfield 70

MACBA Public Programs
Tel. (+34) 93 481 79 00
pei [at] macba [dot] cat



TAKING TO THE STREETS. An audiotour through Barcelona's underground scene of the 1970s