Return to the Future?

Eighty Years on from the End of the Spanish Civil War

From 17 October to 4 December 2019
Robert Capa (André Ernö Friedmann). Madrid, November-December 1936, 1936, posthumous print, 1998. Gelatin silver print on paper, 29.4 x 40.2 cm. Museo Reina Sofía
Robert Capa (André Ernö Friedmann). Madrid, November-December 1936, 1936, posthumous print, 1998. Gelatin silver print on paper, 29.4 x 40.2 cm. Museo Reina Sofía
Force line

Politics and the aesthetics of memory

Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía, Asociación La Comuna and the Anastasio de Gracia-FITEL Foundation

The 1936 coup d’état and the ensuing civil war splintered reality, the pieces scattering across complex [in]exiles, disappearances, silences… faltering and inconclusive narratives, fertile, multifocal and widespread memories that pulse and throb today, cross-examining the present and managing to distort a univocal, hegemonic gaze. Eighty years on from the end of the Spanish Civil War, the drive of the silenced once again challenges linear history and its ellipses. Thus, the programme Return to the Future? starts from an analysis of three different stages: the Dictatorship, the Transition and Democracy in Spain, reactivating critical power and confronting logics of memory from a present that strikes up a dialogue between accounts of the past and visions of possible futures.  



María Cerdá Acebrón (Madrid, 1984) is a visual artist, researcher and teacher who currently lives and works in Mexico City. In recent years she has been working on an interdisciplinary project called Recuerdos del futuro, based around the visual memory of Republican exile in Mexico from a third-generation perspective.

Joan E. Garcés (Lliria, Valencia, 1944) is a jurist and political scientist who holds a PhD in Political Sciences from Sciences-Po and Sorbonne University, Paris, and a Degree in Law from the Complutense University of Madrid. He was personal adviser to Chilean President Salvador Allende from 1970 to 1973. In 1999 in the Swedish Parliament he received the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of his work in the defence of international law and human rights.

Eulàlia Grau (Terrassa, 1946) is an artist whose work documents the weakness, contradictions and perversities of the capitalist system in more obvious perpetuation mechanisms such as the police, the army and prisons, and other more subtle ones like family, school and the media. Among other issues, her concerns centre on gender critique, calling out the situation of abuse and inequality for women and questioning female stereotypes in the public and private sphere.   

Jesús Marchante (Alcázar de San Juan, Ciudad Real, 1954) and Horacio Sainz (Madrid, 1953) are members of La Comuna, an association of ex-prisoners and victims of political reprisals from Francoism, set up in the spring of 2011. The association takes its name from the communes that organised resistance in prisons and is made up of a broad range of people who suffered reprisals during the Franco regime and others acutely aware of the ideology of truth, justice and remediation vindicated by the association. 

Ramón Mateos (Madrid, 1968) is a visual artist, curator and teacher who currently lives and works in Madrid. For many years he has been working on a project to create collaboration networks with other collectives and artists. His most recent output prompts the spectator to reflect on their position as a citizen, assess their capacity to act and become aware of what surrounds them, as well as evaluating their potential to change their environment.

Ana Navarrete Tudela (Valencia, 1965) is a visual artist, teacher and researcher who currently lives in Cuenca, working as a senior lecturer in the Art Department at the Facultad de Bellas Artes. She is also head researcher of Subproyecto2 from AEMA (the Spanish Archive of Media Art) and director of MIDECIANT (the International Electrography Museum – Centre of Innovation in Art and New Technologies), with her academic interest focusing on cultural practices of social resistance and the analysis of gender identity and violence against women.

Paula Rubio Infante (Carabanchel, Madrid, 1977) is a visual artist who lives in Asturias. She is currently working on the project Esto es un agujero, for which she obtained a 2019 Visual Arts Grant from the Community of Madrid. In 2018 she published Castillo negro. Sucesos creativos en torno al Sanatorio Psiquiátrico Penitenciario de Carabanche via a 2017 Creation Grant, again from the Community of Madrid. 


Equipo Crónica. Paredón II. Acrílico sobre lienzo, 1975
Actividad pasada Thursday, 17 October – 7pm / Sabatini Building, Auditorium
1966–1982: Towards the End of the Dictatorship?
Lecture by Joan Garcés

The current political, socioeconomic and cultural crisis of the Spanish State is articulated with crisis structures from its contexts in Europe and the Mediterranean. Some of the causes are rooted in the intervention of Germany’s Third Reich and Italy in the Spanish Civil War and its final outcome in 1939; in the effects of the Cold War with the USSR on the Iberian Peninsula from July 1945; in reactions that have developed in the UK, the United States and Russia since the reunification of Germany in 1990; and in China’s projection as an economic force. This lecture, therefore, sets forth a reflection from the links of certain variants which are relevant to these events in contemporary Spain.

Presented by: Jesús Marchante and Horacio Sainz (Asociación La Comuna)

Attendance: free, until full capacity is reached

Antoni Tàpies. Gran marró i fusta (Gran marrón y madera). Técnica mixta sobre madera, 1975
Actividad pasada Saturday, 19 October – 6pm / Nouvel Building, Floor 0, exhibition rooms
An Uncertain Dream
Tour around the exhibition The Poetics of Democracy. Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition

Conducted by Jesús Marchante and Horacio Sainz, Asociación La Comuna

Attendance: complete capacity
Meeting point: the adjoining area between the Sabatini Building and the Nouvel Building, Floor 1 

Eulàlia Grau. Temps de lleure (Etnografia) (Tiempo de ocio [Etnografía]). Acrílico y emulsión fotográfica sobre lienzo, 1974
Actividad pasada Tuesday, 5 November – 7pm / Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
Possible Futures. Speaking Through Practice
A conversation between artists Eulàlia Grau, Ana Navarrete and Paula Rubio Infante

On one side, this conversation sets out a debate on the artistic practices that have granted visibility to issues surrounding Spain’s recent past in order to consider the present and, on the other, constitutes an exercise of collective memory that encourages dialogue. Based on some of the works of the guest artists, different questions arise: At the current time, how can we re-read the reflections implicit in these works? What is at the heart of the debate today? How can we participate in it from the perspective of artistic practice or from the perspective of spectators? 

Moderated by: María Cerdá Acebrón and Ramón Mateos

Attendance: free, until full capacity is reached

Robert Capa (André Ernö Friedmann). Madrid, noviembre-diciembre 1936. Gelatinobromuro de plata sobre papel, 1936
Actividad pasada Friday, 8 November 11am / Sabatini Building, Floor 2, room 206 (Guernica and the 1930s)
Pablo Picasso and Robert Capa, Paradigms of the Horrors of War
Opening of the second edition of the Festival Robert Capa estuvo aquí (the Rober Capa Was Here Festival) and a tour from the Museo Reina Sofía to number 10, calle Peironcely, Puente de Vallecas, Madrid

In November 1936, following a string of terrifying bombings of Madrid’s civilian population by the German and Italian air forces, Hungarian photographer Endre Ernö Friedmann, better known as Robert Capa, took a picture which today has become an icon of the horrors of war and the vulnerability of childhood. In the photograph, two girls and a boy are sat on the edge of a rubble-filled pavement outside a shrapnel-riddled house that could be their home. They look happy and unconcerned by the brutal landscape surrounding them. 

Capa took another shot of the same scene, this time of a teenager who, leaning against a dilapidated doorframe in the door to the house, observes the three youngsters. The first image was published in the mainstream media in the USA, France, the UK, and Switzerland and moved the entire world. Unfortunately, over the passage of time, the negatives and original paper copy were lost. Fortunately, a copy of the second image, donated by the photographer’s brother, Cornell Capa, is conserved in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection.

In 2010, research conducted by José Latova and Alberto Martín Escudero identified the location of both images as number 10, calle Peironcely, in the district of Entrevías, Puente de Vallecas, Madrid. Six years later, the #SalvaPerioncely Platform, made up of over twenty pacifist cultural organisations from the USA, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain, called on the Madrid authorities to protect and expropriate the building and rehouse the current residents in suitable conditions so as to turn the property into the home of the Robert Capa Centre in order to research the aerial bombing in Madrid. On 20 July 2016, the Madrid City Council’s plenary approved the first three measures and on 27 November 2018 gave the go-ahead to create the centre. 

In June 2018 a new discovery was made. Collector Juan Carlos Almazán Masso acquired a set of images of the Civil War originating from the UK, including, to date, the only original copy on paper which, although not developed from the original negatives, is the first image of calle Peironcely, and one which was disseminated internationally.

In conjunction with the second edition of the Robert Capa Was Here Festival, the Museo Reina Sofía will display the two photographs together for the first time in the rooms adjoining Guernica — three pertinent testimonies of the atrocity of war.

Programme: Robert Capa Was Here Festival 
Organised by: Anastasio de Gracia-FITEL Foundation
Meeting point: the adjoining area between the Sabatini Building and the Nouvel Building, Floor 1
Capacity: 60 people
Attendance: Complete capacity

Actividad pasada Saturday, 16 November – 8pm / Nouvel Building, Courtyard
Latent Peripheries. Audiovisual Reflection on Exile
Mapped projection on the front of the Sabatini Building and live music

Latent Peripheries demonstrates, in a reflection which questions the present of Peironcely 10, the viewpoint of multiple exiles that disrupts today’s society. The city has grown without looking back, in waves of speculative greed that, for economic or political reasons, has condemned many of its inhabitants to exile. These exiles have become subjects without rights who fight to stay afloat in a growing ocean of non-solidarity that puts the victim at fault, and turns difference into suspicion and diversity into dissonance. Therefore, Latent Peripheries offers a visual and sound-based reflection on these circumstances and on the vulnerability of outlying areas in cities, where inequality often resides.

Programme: Robert Capa Was Here Festival
Organised by: Anastasio de Gracia-FITEL Foundation and the Degree in Fine Arts from the Rey Juan Carlos University
Art directors: Miguel S. Moñita and Tomás Zarza
Production director: Uría Fernández
Live music: Trinidad Jiménez and Odin Kaban
Visual works: students and teachers from the Degree in Fine Arts at the Rey Juan Carlos University

Attendance: free, until full capacity is reached


Recorrido hasta Peironcely 10, Madrid
Actividad pasada Thursday, 14 and Monday, 25 November, and Wednesday, 4 December – 10:30am / Tours around Madrid
Robert Capa’s Madrid

Destroying Childhood (Thursday, 14 November)

Madrid Under Aerial Terror (Monday, 25 November)

Art in Danger (Wednesday, 4 December 2019)

The ties of Robert Capa’s professional beginnings to the Spanish Civil War and its impact on Madrid are well documented. According to Capa’s biographer, Richard Whelan, the images he took of the city “highlight that he began to understand that the truth of the war was not only found in the clamour of battle, in the official scene, but also in its contours, on the faces of soldiers enduring the cold, fatigue and tedium behind the lines, and of civilians racked with fear, suffering and loss”. Therefore, these routes follow the photographer’s footsteps and the bombs dropped on Madrid’s streets. The starting point of every tour is the Museo Reina Sofía’s room 206, Guernica and the 1930s, in which the two photographs Capa took in front of calle Peironcely 10, in 1936, are displayed.

Programme: Robert Capa Was Here Festival
Organised by: Anastasio de Gracia-FITEL Foundation
Guides: Carlos Antonio Figueroa Lillo and Aurelio Merino
Documentation: Uría Fernández and Roberto García Fernández
Capacity: 25 places per tour
Meeting point: the adjoining area between the Sabatini Building and the Nouvel Building, Floor 1 
Attendance: free, with prior registration by calling +34 91 456 21 31 or writing to

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