In ‘The Silence of a Red Lion’ (single-channel video with sound, 2021), Paillole confronts the still controversial topic of the spanish civil war (1936-1939) through family memories and photographic archives. It is set between three time frames: a recent telephone conversation between the artist and his father; a family reunion twenty-two years ago; and the artist's grandfather's personal account of the war.

 

The conflict, which resulted in a fascist victory and an almost four-decade long dictatorship, deepened ideological trenches and forced silences which enable us to understand Spain’s political confrontation today. For many years, even during Spain’s recent democratic history, it was unofficially agreed not to speak about what had happened in an attempt to conceal the country’s open scars. However, these have now become materialised as political polarisation in institutions and media.

 

Through the telephone, Paillole’s father’s voice recalls the moment when the artist’s grandfather told him about his war experiences. Inevitably, these very brief and never complete testimonies left socio-political traces with significant gaps in our collective memory. These words should remind younger generations of the importance of speaking aloud about trauma regardless of the political consequences. As expressed by LGBTQ+ afroamerican author and activist Audre Lorde in ‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action’, “my silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”

Commissioned by Platform Art Projects.

Funded by Arts Council England.