The Polysemy of The Wall
On too many occasions we forget that the city, that space bordered by walls which mark the interior and exterior of our privacy and which we inhabit in complete oblivion, is the place we must think of as the setting for “social drama”. Seen like this, the wall turns into a different reality, one we could consider a reflection of our fears. With walls we protect what we love most. Our walls, the walls of our homes, safeguard our dreams from “others” (a word as imprecise as it is disturbing).
But when we think of ourselves as a community our individual, familiar dreams become entangled with those of our friends, of our neighbours, with the dreams of those for whom we feel an affinity, a certain empathy, for professional reasons, economic reasons, historical reasons, or social reasons. When they guard the dreams of us all, these walls become ramparts. Ramparts that protect us from what we call our enemies…Etymologically, an enemy is a person we feel is not afriend, a word which in turn comes from the Old Englishfreogan “to love, to favour”. The story of the walls of a city is, in short, a story of loves and antipathies.
This vision of the wall, however, remains an inadequate vision, because within the ramparts not all of us dream the same. There are dreams that enter into conflict with other dreams. Walls against walls, rivals against rivals. As well as walls against which there is no other wall (nor perhaps even roof) to defend them. The walls of the powerful defend them from the dispossessed. And when the powerful have to hide behind their walls it is because the dispossessed have occupied the space outside those walls, the street, the space of revolution.
When injustice becomes unbearable, we must fight against the walls. Fight by transforming them. We must publicly denounce what we are fighting against. Paint the walls, write on the walls, condemn on the walls the abuses committed by the owners of the walls. Those without walls must confront the walls. Tearing down the walls means transforming the face of the city. On occasions it becomes necessary to break down the walls of injustice.
That, the polysemy of the wall, is what we are trying to highlight with our installation.
The Citadel, where the wall we have imagined with Benedetta Tagliabue rises up, forms part of the history of loves and antipathies of the city of Barcelona. The Citadel, built after the Catalans were defeated defending Barcelona on 11 September 1714, was a military fortress which had a dual purpose: to defend the city in the case of attack from the exterior, but also to repress any Barcelona citizens who wanted to challenge the dominant power. It was, so to speak, a wall facing both inward and outward. The wall of those with power against their enemies – but not perhaps the enemies of Barcelona people – and against the citizens dispossessed of power. Barcelona finally demolished the Citadel walls in 1869.
Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT)
With the collaboration of
Institut del Teatre