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In Transition

20N – 23F 2008

This exhibition does not intend to be a chronological, narrative description of a historical period but rather a way of understanding a dense, complex process that acted as a bridge between dictatorship and democracy and which affected, and developed through, the people who experienced it.

Specifically the exhibition centres on individuals and collectives rather than on the leading actors in the political process, and relates the changes that occurred at all levels in Spanish society in the 1970s and ‘80s. The result is a multidirectional narrative that links personal experiences with the collective and covers stories of both victory and failure.

"In Transition" aims firstly to convey to visitors the sensation of transit, of progressive change, movement, and, secondly, to avoid a retrospective approach, staging the visit in the present tense.

The exhibition opens with an introductory space that focuses on the internal contradictions of the Francoist regime by reconstructing a secret meeting of the Council of the Movement. It then takes the form of eight thematic areas that outline the evolution of a society that dismantled everything that the Francoist regime had-apparently-left firmly in place:

1. Strike
2. Police station
3. School
4. Coexistence groups
5. Psychiatric hospital
6. Music scene
7. Representations
8. Questions regarding the Transition

To close, a thread running throughout the exhibition uses graphic humour to look at the obstacles standing in the way of the process to democratic freedom.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of activities that reflect in greater detail on collective memory generated by that period and on parallels with other processes of democratic transition around the world. The closing ceremony will be held on 22 February with a round table, at which guest experts will answer questions about transition posted into a box by visitors to the exhibition.

1- Strike

The strike covers the forms taken by pressure to bring about the change to democracy. An audiovisual montage, drawing on the militant cinema of the time, tells how the mobilizations functioned and how the strikes of the time affected every sector of society, across the board: student, political, feminist and trade union mobilizations, as well as those of various professional groups calling for rights and liberties.

2- Police station

This section focuses on the repression experienced under the dictatorship. It is a departure point that represents the fears of a society with restricted freedoms. The police station is chosen rather than the prison as an element of control that was closer to the experience of many citizens. On exhibition for the first time will be police files and other archive materials of the Ministry of the Interior from the holdings of the police and the then Brigada Político Social, or thought police.

3- School

The school was one of the places to undergo the most significant changes. Schools evolved from the Francoist regime to the present day by means of the implantation of new pedagogical methods and demands for a public school system. This was a time when parent and teacher involvement blazed the trail of a new pedagogy.

4- Coexistence groups

This term can be applied both to the traditional family and, more broadly, to other forms of coexistence. The chosen approach here is that of a young person (son or daughter). This idea is related to the concept of youth as a metaphor for the Transition.

Issues to come under the spotlight include changes in the various family roles, new domestic units, the crisis of the authority of the father figure and the emergence of feminism.

This section comprises photographs from family albums and a selection of excerpts from the film El desencanto, by Jaime Chávarri (1975).

5- Psychiatric hospital

As in any social process, transformations do not always advance at the same speed. This was the case of psychiatric hospitals, which evolved at a different pace to the rest of society. This section analyses changes in the lives of mental patients, the process of acceptance of madness by society, the effects of anti-psychiatry, the evolution of therapies (from electroshock treatment to art therapy) and the difficulty of situating new perceptions of madness.

There are paradigm examples of psychiatric hospitals around Spain that illustrate the diversity of organizational models that coexisted at the time, such as Bétera (Valencia), Miraflores (Seville), La Santa Creu (Barcelona), Oviedo's psychiatric hospital and Leganés (Madrid). The latter is documented in the film Animación en la sala de espera, in which Manuel Coronado and Carlos Rodríguez Sanz filmed the hospital and the people who lived there from 1979 to 1981.

The exhibition recovers a hitherto unshown audiovisual document: the premiere, in Barcelona in 1969, of the play Marat Sade directed by Adolfo Marsillach, an event that had a major impact on public life.

6- Music scene

This section uses music to look at the underground culture of the 1970s and ‘80s, highlighting the moment when it emerged in society and the way this phenomenon generated reactions among the different generations that identified with it.
A key element in the culture of the Transition was the role of the public and its growing importance; this was essentially a participatory culture and the exhibition highlights just this. It also illustrates the simultaneous existence of different musical aesthetics and models: on the one hand, recitals and protest songs; on the other, punk rock concerts.

7- Representations

This section highlights the relations between the artist and society, using representations of relevant events from the period in question. A narrative thread of six significant news items of the time, such as the death of Carrero Blanco or the Carnation Revolution, provides the background for works by Andreu Alfaro, Jorge Oteiza, Martín Chirino, Juan Genovés, Francesc Torres and Equipo Crónica.

8- Questions regarding the Transition

One of the objectives of the exhibition is to respond both to the "official" memory of the Transition presented as of the 1980s and to the idea of "equal impunity". The layout therefore closes with reflection on the memory of the Transition by various young artists who contribute their view of this process by answering, among other questions, those about the construction of the national model of impunity, the formation of the official memory of the Transition and what this period of transfer actually represented.

At the end of the exhibition, visitors will also be able to record their questions, which will be answered at a round table on 23 February.

Obstacles (narrative thread)

Throughout the exhibition layout, graphic humour is used to present a list of the phenomena that seemed to curb the process of the Transition and appeal to different fears from the past, to state violence, to the military sphere, to terrorism, to the actions of extreme right-wing groups or to Catholic morality and taboos.

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Report "In Transition. 20N – 23F 2008"

This exhibition does not intend to be a chronological, narrative description of a historical period but rather a way of understanding a dense, complex process that acted as a bridge between dictatorship and democracy and which affected, and developed through, the people who experienced it.

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Previous activities

On torture

Humour as a political weapon

REP mural

Show more

The political transition

Collaborating media