Reading of the Communist Manifesto by two retirees and volunteers.
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The audio was streamed on FM radio during the BAI Festival 2022 in the proletarian neighborhood of Intxaurrondo (San Sebastián) as a tribute to the artist Agustín Ibarrola, who was arrested and tortured in 1962 for belonging to the Communist Party and for being an informant for Radio Independent Spain, known as Radio Pirenaica. Thanks to the two retirees (Meri & Ángel) and their friend (Miguel) who invited them to participate.
In 1962, Agustín Ibarrola was arrested in Bilbao, tortured for 21 days and tried by a military court for nine years in prison. He was accused of belonging to the Communist Party and of being an informant for Radio España Independiente, known as Radio Pirenaica. He was imprisoned in the Burgos prison between 1962 and 1965. Later he participated in various workers’ strikes, which is why he was imprisoned again in 1967 and was in prison until 1973. During both prison stays he continued to paint.
Radio Kapitala is a collaborative sound work where two anonymous voices read the entire Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx in 1848. The two voices belong to two retired people who frequent the Home for Retirees located right in front of the sculpture “Las Siluetas ” by Ibarrola and from where the recording of said reading of the Manifesto is broadcast on the radio. Near the sculpture, a small radio with the name of “International” (referring to the official anthem of the workers of the entire world) broadcasts the classic text of Marx. The radio broadcast, imperfect, noisy and ghostly rich, invites us to think about the ghosts of the past in the present.
The Communist Manifesto begins with these words: “A ghost haunts Europe. The ghost of Communism”. While the Manifesto is more and more valid, the direction of that ghost has changed, if we look at the rise of fascism throughout the world and not only in Europe in recent years. Today there are other ghosts that fly over: on the one hand, the ghost of the permanent crisis (banking, real estate and energy) typical of the uncontrolled liberal market and, on the other, the consequences of neoliberal and bourgeois policies that, for example , have turned San Sebastián into the Basque capital of the “homeless” and where it is almost impossible to live with dignity due to the exorbitant prices of houses.
Different authors and intellectuals from around the world, such as the Japanese Kohei Saito, have been proposing in recent years a new reading of the Manifesto and the work of Marx, where sustainability and equality, based on the stationary economy, make up the resistance against capital and constitute the foundation of future society. The communism that Marx envisioned in his later years is a declining, egalitarian, and sustainable economy.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx writes: “in bourgeois society the past dominates the present; In communist society it is the present that dominates over the past.” If today it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, it is worth asking from what kind of society we want to imagine what kind of future. What kind of ghost do we want to hunt down? Do we really want to be imprisoned and tortured, like Ibarrola, for belonging to a political party or for doing radio? What social class do we think we belong to when in reality a large part of society lives on the brink of non-payment of energy and food bills due to the recent and growing inflation in the markets, thus making us possible “homeless” futures in a city like San Sebastian? These questions are a call to reflection through a discreet and ghostly artistic work in an essentially proletarian neighborhood such as Intxaurrondo.
In this sense, Radio Kapitala invites us to question ourselves as individuals and as a society, as well as to make a radio that was the one that imprisoned Ibarrola not so many years ago. Radio Kapitala calls for citizen participation in the same way that the Communist Manifesto ends: “Workers of all countries, unite!”.
Also during the festival I led a workshop related to the previous intervention and tribute to Agustín Ibarrola. As the sound work was for radio, we decided to hold a radio workshop in which the participants had to imagine what the end of the world would be like, paying homage to Orson Welles‘ The War of the Worlds (1938) because it seems easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. The following audio was recorded directly, without rehearsals or previous experiences, with all the participants. Thanks to all of them!