BARCELONA. Santiago Sierra’s Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain 1 – 17 june 2018. CCCB. Centre de Cultura Contemporània

Santiago Sierra’s work Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain features 24 black and white photos of 74 political prisoners from different causes, with their faces pixellated.

“The fact of having to visit penal institutions is in itself an indicator of the failure and powerlessness of society to build a place of healthy coexistence that respects personal sovereignty”. This is the opening quote in Santiago Sierra’s communiqué that places in context his most recent installation Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain.

The work seeks to highlight the existence of political prisoners in Spain through a selection of clear examples, and points out that there are many prisoners within the Spanish penal system who have been imprisoned for their ideology, particularly those of a left-wing persuasion.

The traditions of the Franco era and the prolongation of nationalist conflicts following the transition have blurred the definition of what constitutes a political prisoner in Spain, giving rise to a situation in which a variety of activities may be considered a crime of “terrorism”. With this installation, Santiago Sierra reflects on the effects of the “Gagging Law” in contemporary Spain and calls on us not to turn a blind eye.

Santiago Sierra has exhibited around the world and is particularly well known in the world of political art for his work condemning capitalism, exploitation and the labour market. His work also calls into question the nature of art institutions.

The CCCB presents this project as part of its programme for Orwell Day, one of its permanent strands for reflecting on threats to freedom of expression, truth and the use of lies, control of information and censorship. The photo installation will be accompanied by a series of panel discussions and activities. (CCCB press-release)

CCCB. Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Montalegre, 5 – 08001 Barcelona

Image: Courtesy of the Gallery Helva de Alvear and Santiago Serra Study