1989 After the Conversations of Algiers. Delirium and Truce, is a Case Study exhibition within the Peace Treaty project organised as part of the San Sebastian 2016, European Capital of Culture. It is hosted by the Artium in Vitoria-Gasteiz and by the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona.
The “permanent ceasefire in armed violence” decreed by ETA in 2011 is the most recent and nearest example of the will to put an end to a period of history scarred by violence. Prior attempts to start a negotiated peace process, such as the Conversations of Algiers (1987-1989), which give this exhibition its title, did not conclude with any type of agreement. Despite all the meetings held between the Spanish government and ETA, peace has been repeatedly put off.
If there is no peace agreement, what this case study looks into is a period of time in which terrorism mobilized every stitch of society. Far from portraying violence with the political and ethical perspectives that violence itself has generated, this project presents the effects of terrorism on the art produced in that historical period. But what type of timeframe can be established when violence erases the barriers of time and breaks up the association of images with events, as is often the case with long-term conflicts that end up seeming more like a war with few pauses over time? In this case, debates about the end of the Spanish Civil War or the eagerness to shed light upon the legitimacy of the armed conflict demonstrate that violence does not end. What is definitively lost is consensus on the historical timeframe in which actions occur. Thus, trying to mark violence with a beginning and end is another type of collusion with catastrophe. The debate on the first ETA victim illustrates this point.
However, adopting the Conversations of Algiers as an axis for this case study involves rejecting the iconization of the historic event, understanding that the icon is an effect of the image being used and read in a way that is not essential thereto. If said image or icon does not exist, it is because informational obscurity has gotten in the way in terms of the interactions between the Spanish Government authorities and ETA representatives. Peace negotiations, conducted in secret, have not included the testimony of the press. Only the results have been shared, often having been transmitted as fait accompli. As a result, the Conversations of Algiers challenge our very notion of the events. We know that they have taken place, but we don’t have images thereof, except for revelations from the parties who participated in the negotiations.
The exhibition includes works of Ibon Aranberri, Luis Claramunt, Jon Mikel Euba, Iñaki Garmendia, Jeff Koons, Asier Mendizábal, Jorge Oteiza, Asier Pérez González, Xavier Ribas, Allan Sekula and Antoni Tàpies, among others, along with archive documents.