MEERSCHAUM (Sea foam) land art action against oblivion Víctor Mata i Ventura DESCRIPTIVE MEMORYLaguna Prize Barcelona, 23rd July 2020 1. Reason and proposalThe Meerschaum (Sea Foam in... Read More
MEERSCHAUM (Sea foam)
land art action against oblivion
Víctor Mata i Ventura
Barcelona, 23rd July 2020
1. Reason and proposal
The Meerschaum (Sea Foam in english) scenic facility is a tribute to the victims of Nazi concentration and extermination camps and a complaint against the holocausts and genocides before World War II.
In 2011 I was commissioned to illustrate the book Nacht und nebel, Fotografía y testimoniowith an artistic intervention to frame and illustrate the chapter of the book dedicated to photographer Francesc Boix and his colleagues, deported in the Nazi extermination camp of Mauthausen (Austria). The challenge was unbeatable from artistic, historical and memorialist points of view. I located an evocative space of the Mauthausen quarry and the events that happened: a closed limestone quarry (Les Cubetes) located in the municipality of Begues near Barcelona. The monumentality of the vertical cuts breached in the rock, the craters caused by the explosives, the abandoned material remains, the ruins of the old facilities and the destruction of the nature of the Garraf massif were a reminder of the quarry of the Austrian countryside. The open pit mine of Les Cubetes, an uninhabitable and denatured place, or as Robert Smithson would say a "Non-Site", became ephemerally a place of memory that we value from this historical perspective, but also from a dual landscape conception (destruction - protection), artistic and cultural.
At any time in history, peoples communities, groups and individuals are susceptible to committing acts of intolerance and violence towards their fellowmen. To prevent this it is essential to establish the necessary springs, as Jahanbegloo would say, promote the molten you and self in a responsible dialogue of mutual recognition that seeks the similarities to understand the differences. Or as Tzvetan Todorov states: "The memory of the past helps us to understand that evil is part of the human condition; therefore, we must fight against the egocentrism and manicheanism that it carries with it, and not against the peoples who apply them." That is, no one, not even the victims, are free to commit acts of vengeance that, unfailingly, bring them closer to their executioners.
3. Description and concept
Meerschaum (Sea foam) consisted of 7 polyester ropes 12 mm in diameter and 65 meters long each, which reproduce the colors of the identifying triangles of the various human groups deported in the Mauthausen-Gusen camp. The yellow color identified the Jewish people, the green of the ordinary prisoners; pink to the homosexual collective; purple, conscientious objectors, Jehovah's Witnesses, Bible scholars...; the black color grouped people considered associatials (disabled persons, lesbian, prostitutes, drug addicts, gypsies...); red designated political deportees and defendants of armed resistance; Finally, blue gathered stateless people along with the initial letter of the country of origin, most Catalan and Spanish republicans wore this badge with an S printed on a blue background. The ropes held at seven small iron bars, separated from each other by a distance of 5 m and located at the top of a bench about 20 m high, form an arc of 35 m and converge 65 m from the bench tied on an iron beam. In this way they form a large triangle divided into six smaller ones, a reminder of the triangular badges worn by the prisoners. The iron beam brings together the people who gained freedom on behalf of the hundreds of thousands who passed through the countryside.
4. Data sheet Denomination: MEERSCHAUM (SEA FOAM) Typology: Memory and culture Material: 7 polyester ropes (65 m/uni). 7 bars and a fastening iron beam. Author: Víctor Mata Ventura. Team: Víctor Mata, Jaume Ratera, Vicenç. Martí, Josep Lluís Vendrell. Reason: illustrate the chapter "Nit i boira and Escuma de mar, land art actions against the forgotten", in the book of HISPANO, Maria; ALBERCH, Ramon [coords.] (2011): Nacht und nebel fotografía y testimonio, Fundació Nous Horitzons, Badalona. Dispositionl: triangle-shaped structure formed with strings. Dimension: length 65 m x 20 m height x, 35 m, maximum width. Chronology: April, 2011. Location: central glass of the quarry Les Cubetes, Begues (Barcelona).
 Poetic occurrence of the Nazi prefecture. It refers to the pomps that form on seawater. The deportees classified under this classification were destined to disappear without a trace.
 MATA VENTURA, Víctor (2011): Nit i boira y Escuma de mar. Acciones land art contra el Olvido (Night and Mist and Sea Foam. Land art actions against Forgotten), in HISPANO VILASECA, Marià and ALBERCH FUGUERAS, Ramon [coords.]: Nacht und nebel fotografía y testimonio (Nacht und nebel photography and testimony), Fundació Nous Horitzons, Badalona, pp. 120-131.
 Authors of the abduction of photographs that were used as graphic evidence to incriminate the Nazi chiefs of Mauthausen in the Nuremberg process.
 JAHANBEGLOO, Ramin (2008): L’imperatiu intercultural (The intercultural imperative), Arcadia, Barcelona, p. 48.
 TODOROV, Tsvetan (2002): Memoria del mal, tentación del bien. Indagación sobre el siglo XX (Memory of evil, temptation of good. Inquiry into the 20th century), Península, Barcelona, p. 384.