Roberto Aguirrezabala publishes ‘Antimanifesto’, a photobook analysing workers’ and citizens’ revolutions in the context of the Communist Bloc in Europe in the 20th century
‘Antimanifesto’ is self-published by Roberto Aguirrezabala with funding from the Basque Government Department of Culture and Language Policy via its aid scheme for publications.
Antimanifesto is a photobook that looks at citizen-based movements in reaction to authoritarian power. The iconoclastic nature of the project means that it is positioned against dogma, but the book still retains its character as a manifesto in the sense of a fundamental undertaking to act from the viewpoint of civil and worker-based dissidence.
In essence, Antimanifesto is two books, one of them physically inside the other. The main section Anti uses photos and historical objects modified by Aguirrezabala to examine uprisings against Soviet domination in the satellite states of the Eastern Bloc. These involved strong actions of trade-union resistance, workers’ rebellions and uprisings by sectors of the left which soon came to see Stalinism as a grotesque deviation from true communism. Following the death of Stalin there were numerous uprisings against Soviet hegemony. The earliest of them ended in tragedy, e.g. Berlin in 1953, Budapest in 1956 and the Prague Spring and Charter 77 uprisings in Czechoslovakia. Later, in the late 1980s, protests were eminently peaceful, e.g. the Solidarność movement in Poland and the Singing Revolution in the Baltic countries. With the turn of the 90s came the inevitable collapse of communism, when the ambitious glasnost ended up devouring the unsustainable perestroika in a final attempt to get back to a much-longed-for, original Marxist-Leninism.
Inside Anti is the second book: Manifesto. This is the first-edition, original 1848 German-language version of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, which is printed in full on the inside pages. The text by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is assaulted, invaded, attacked violently by a repressive Red Army. Aguirrezabala overlays on the German text a number of photos of minimalist scenes laid out as vignettes which walk the line between humour, irony and denunciation, putting the civilian population in the position of passive witnesses forced to watch outbursts of fury. An interlinked dialogue is thus established between the two books, carried on in a continuous, unending sequence that alternates between liberating uprisings and violent repression, evidencing the final condemnation of the self-destruction of the state.
Antimanifesto is Roberto Aguirrezabala’s second publication, following War Edition (2019), in which he investigates historical remembrance. The two photo-books form part of a series called Entropy on which Aguirrezabala has been working since 2015. War Edition looks at 20th century Europe as a never-ending war, a continuous sequence of warlike tension. The idea of eternal return underlies the pages of the book, with each confrontation analysed through specific concepts and controversial theories which are generally hard to accept, even for later generations.
Entropy series is a journey back in time across 20th century Europe, an analytical and reflective tour to try to understand our present time even better. This project is focused on the period of the 20th century between 1914, with the beginning of the First World War, and 1991, with the downfall of the Soviet Union, exploring the contexts of revolution and social and political conflicts. It focuses on marginal people who lived through those events.
Online shop: https://shop.robertoaguirrezabala.com
About Roberto Aguirrrezabala
Roberto Aguirrezabala holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country. In the course of his artistic career he has won several awards: Finalist in the X y IX Pilar Citoler International Biennial Award for Contemporary Photography 2019 and 2017; Montehermoso Award in the Viphoto Festival 2018; First prize V Premio Ankaria, Ankaria Foundation 2018; Finalist in the Best Photography Book of the Year Award, PHotoESPAÑA 2019; Acquisition Award at the XX Sala El Brocense Plastic Arts Prize 2017; Photographer of the Year in the International Photography Awards IPA 2017 Spanish edition; Special mention PHotoEspaña, Premio de Fotografía Fundación Enaire 2017; First Prize Best Work of net.art X Canariasmediafest, Festival Internacional de Vídeo y Multimedia de Canarias 2002; Award to the revelation artist in Festival de Vídeo de Navarra 1998, among others. His work has also been supported by numerous grants, including: Plastic Arts Basque Government Grant in the Publications modality 2019 and 2018; Call for BiAD projects – Bilbao Art District 2018; Bilbao Arte Foundation Grants 2015 and 2010; Plastic Arts Basque Government Grants 2016 and 2010; Generación 2001, Caja Madrid Grant; Diputación Foral de Bizkaia Grant 2005, Arteleku 1999; Mecad 1999.
He has held several solo exhibitions, including particularly: Museo de la guerra, Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria, 2019; Entropy, Bilbao Arte Foundation, 2016; Roberto Aguirrezabala, net.art 1998-2008 en el Centro Huarte de Arte Contemporáneo, curated by Roberta Bosco and Stefano Caldana, 2008. His work has been seen in numerous group exhibitions such as: X Pilar Citoler International Biennial Award for Contemporary Photography 2020, Cordova, Spain; Art//edina 2018; XVIII Concurso Encuentros de Arte Contemporáneo 2018, Alicante; Bilbao Art District 2018; IX Pilar Citoler International Biennial Award for Contemporary Photography 2018, Cordova, Spain; Obra Abierta 2017, Plasencia, Extremadura; Infinito Interior, Enaire Foundation Photography Award, Instituto Cervantes, Madrid; 12º Canarias Media Fest 2006, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; ARCO 2000 y 2002, Madrid; The discreet charm of technology. Arts in Spain, 2008, comisariada por Claudia Giannetti, MEIAC de Badajoz, ZKM de Alemania, Instituto Tomie Ohtake de São Paulo en Brasil; net.art in the Spanish Pavilion of the Universal Exposition Hannover 2000; 12º Rencontres Internationales 2007, Paris, Berlin, Madrid; Sintopía(s) de la relación entre arte, ciencia y tecnología en 2007, Instituto Cervantes de Pekín y Nueva York.
Photography and drawings: Roberto Aguirrezabala
Texts: Roberto Aguirrezabala
Concept, edition and design: Roberto Aguirrezabala
Taking part in photographs: Asier Aldama, Omar Antón, Verónica Condrat, Eztebe Gartzia, Josu Meléndez, Anakoz Merikaetxebarria, Julen Peralta, Mikel Reyes, Natalia Santos, Iván Trancón, Aitor Vidaurreta, Irene Zóttola
Make-up and hairstyling: Ainhoa Ledesma, Merche Moyano, Estibaliz Zabala
Translations: Izaskun Altube (Euskara), Interwords Global Services (English)
Production: This book has been published thanks to the assistance of the Department of Culture and linguistic Policy of the Basque Government
Printing: Laboratorio para el Arte by Estudios Durero
Number of pages: 188
Languages: Spanish, Basque, English
Special pages: printed endpapers, two fold-out pages, twenty pages printed on metallic silver paper and sixty pages with the Manifesto of the Communist Party sewn into the main book as an insert.
Inserts: a guide in a pocket inside the book comprising 32 pages, with the texts sewn in red thread in 3 languages (Spanish, Basque and English); a fold-out poster; and 8 inserts with reproductions of documents, modified bank-notes, post-cards and photos.
Binding and cover: hard-back binding with straight spine and book pages sewn with red thread. Outer cover in embossed textile-style red paper, glued photo and a five-point star die-cut into the front cover.
Measurements: 21,7 × 28,8 × 2,4 cm
Number of copies: 300 (numbered and signed)
Publication date: 2020
Legal Deposit: BI 00190-2020
Price: 37,00 € (taxes included)