The sculpture presented two years ago at the ARCO Fair by artists Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Merino has been burned, thus completing the artistic project.
The artists have chosen the Hispanity Day* to burn the sculptural figure of King Felipe VI in the municipality of Berga in Barcelona. It is a hyper-realistic work of almost 5 meters high made with combustible materials (wax, resins, wood, fabric and natural hair) that the flames have consumed until leaving only a fireproof skull as “vanitas” and the ashes. There is also photographic material of the burning and a video, which once edited, can be acquired by any interested collector, along with the skull, the ashes and the photographs.
The work had been made with the intention of being burned with the same spirit with which Fallas** are burned in popular culture: getting rid of the old and the corrupt to make way for the new. It was presented by Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Merino in February 2019 at the stand of Ida Pisani’s Prometeo Gallery, which produced it, during the 38th edition of the ARCO contemporary art fair, causing a great stir among the public and the media. Today, October 12, the process has been completed.
Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Merino are two contemporary conceptual artists of great international projection who make critical political art of great impact. On this occasion they decided to unite their efforts and merge their styles for the production of this work of processual art that aspires to become a historical document of its time, expressing the dreams and desires of a large part of the population to get rid of an outdated institution.
*The Hispanity Day (Día de la Hispanidad) replaced in 1981 the Day of Race, celebrated on October 12 since 1918, but mostly associated with the Franco era; it commemorated the discovery of America and the superiority of the "Spanish race" over the Amerindians, and involved the celebration of the genocide of tens of millions of Indians. The change of name hardly changed its spirit. In Catalonia, October 12 is thus a day of protest, in the best of cases, or of internal exile in the face of the initiatives of the right and the extreme right, in any case a national holiday strike. Its equivalent in the United States, “Columbus Day”, is increasingly contested: more than 100 cities in 13 states have renamed it Native American Day. In most countries of what is known as Latin America, it is now a day of resistance by indigenous peoples.
** In Valencia, the Fallas designate the Feast of San José, March 19 (the local equivalent of Carnival), and the mannequins that are burned there.