Thursday, September 16

Anti-vandal varnish for the second life of the feminist mural

It has taken almost half a year – and several municipal procedures – for the faces of 15 important women in history – and silenced in it – to once again preside over a long wall on José del Hierro Street, in Madrid’s Barrio de la Concepción . This week, nine members of the Unlogic Crew are working around the clock restoring the feminist mural of Ciudad Lineal, which has become an emblem for the district. First it was the right that wanted to erase it from the City Hall, but the night before 8M someone took a shortcut and threw black paint on it.

When the afternoon falls on August 23, the sound of spatulas scraping the wall sets the music around the La Concepción Sports Center. The work of recovering the mural has just started: “We are preparing the stage,” explains Jorge Nuño, one of the members of Unlogic Crew, the group commissioned by the City Council to redo the work, vetoing citizen collaboration. “As there are parts that are raised, what we do is scratch so that when the base on which the paint will later be applied is already applied, it will not rise again in the coming months,” he adds.

After that first scraping, the primer layer is applied, which will protect it from moisture, and then a pink layer for the background. In the early hours of Wednesday the faces begin to take color and the smell of paint dominates the mural and the sidewalk that supports it, which is full of buckets, rollers, papers and brushes; leaving free, yes, the bike lane, through which there is a trickle of walkers on wheels.

“The sensation when taking the first brushstrokes is of total joy”. Jorge thinks of the neighbors in the neighborhood as he glides the brush gently on the wall. “I am painting for all of them and for them. We are the brushes of the neighbors. They have fought for six months to recover this wall and they already did it in 2018 to get it,” he expresses attentive to the work.

Although she is happy for the return of this feminist emblem, she cannot help feeling sad at the same time: “We are very, very sorry, because the women of the neighborhood are the engine of this mural and yet they cannot paint it because they are not allowed to. “. One of the clauses of the contract of the Government of Almeida for the recovery of the mural vetoed the participation of any person who did not belong to Unlogic. “They have not given us any explanation,” argues Nuño. “On the two occasions that I have personally spoken with the District Board, I have not received any cause or objective reason.” Unlike other works contracts where the administrations prevent the company from subcontracting them to third parties, this one from the Madrid City Council speaks directly of avoiding “citizen participation.”

The artist “probably” sees reasons behind this veto. “It seems that there is someone who does not like to see hundreds of women recover a space for which they have fought during all these months. There can be no other cause, since we have a 60-meter wall, with portraits every two, three meters “, he explains pointing to the wall and marking faces with his hands. There is enough social distance so that there is no problem in terms of social and health measures. Although they have not alleged any of that to prohibit it, “he insists.

While Jorge attends, at the other end of the wall a man in his early 40s and dressed in light tones talks with a dark-haired boy, who wears a white t-shirt with drawings and plays to take off and put on a cap that It protects you from the heat while you jump without moving from the site. They are Cristóbal and his four-year-old son Leo, who is very excited to be there. “I was commenting on the process of how the silhouettes they made at night are going to transform into spots and will end up outlining the face. I was saying, ‘this is going to be a smile, here the eyes are going to be, here the nose … “, he says, pointing to the strokes made with a felt-tip pen.

“I’m painting Billie Jean King right now,” says Alberto, another member of the collective, concentrating on his work. He is sitting on a mat that protects the floor from the drops. When loading the brush with purple paint, check on a sheet where you have to apply each shade. “We have made a color map and each number represents a different one. That way it is easier for us to coordinate”, he explains while showing the sketch in which the extension appears divided into areas with different codes: “All the ones are equal, the twos , too…”.

Although the mural will be exactly the same as three years ago, there are several things that have changed, in addition to the use of this color map or the veto of the neighbors by the municipal government. One of them is the application of an anti-paint varnish that will help prevent acts of vandalism like the one that occurred six months ago, since, just by applying water, the artists say, the work will be recovered.

“It’s being an experience. I think it’s fantastic. Being able to participate in this is wonderful for a woman.” Julita Romera, a painter from Soria who belongs to Unlogic, is already crouched on the floor painting. He arrived this Wednesday with his daughter Lola from Soria, who accompanies her: “It took me three and a quarter hours by train, on a train from thousands of years ago and with an absolutely obsolete track,” she complains. They are kicking us out, because they leave us without services. “The artist comments that she is committed to the rural world and that, in fact, in her murals she represents the importance of the women who live in these areas.

Together with them, Tere has come. She is Julita’s cousin and, since she has a day off from the hospital where she works, she has been encouraged to see the recovery tasks. Julita is giving color to Rosa Parks while she attends “It is important that there be a mural like this one, because women have always been in the shadows, despite this being a matriarchal society. Recognize women as important as women that is on the wall is something that the rest of us have to magnify to know that nothing is impossible, “she reflects behind her mask.

Romera met Nuño and the rest of the group as a result of the vandalization of the mural and the replicas that were made of it in different corners. She participated in the one in Soria. Another can be seen in La Laguna, in Tenerife. There, 23-year-old Irene painted with fellow Fine Arts colleagues. “When they contacted me to be part of Unlogic and come, they made my eyes chiribitas. Obviously, I answered yes,” she says excitedly as she fills the wall with color. “I was freaking out and I said ‘oh my, what is this, how cool,” he laughs.

Not living in Madrid, Irene had not seen the mural physically, nor had it vandalized. “When I arrived I wanted to cry. If it already impacted me in images, in person much more, really.”

While the group brushes the wall, two monitors pass by with a group of children no more than ten years old and explain that there are scaffolding, ladders or cans of paint in the middle of the street because they are restoring the feminist mural, rather than a symbol in the neighborhood. “Are you liking the way it is, guys?” Asks one of them. “Yes,” the little ones reply in unison, while looking at the wall. Shortly after, a middle-aged man passes by recording a video with his mobile phone: “The figures that were loaded are already taking shape,” he narrates accompanying the images he takes.

“We needed this adrenaline rush,” Alberto smiles. “The repercussion that the mural has had is the most beautiful thing that has happened to us in recent years, really”. The young man, whose hands are stains of purple paint, emphasizes the neighborhood struggle, which he says “is the basis of all struggles, the best example to achieve everything.” “With these little things in the end it is how one becomes strong and how the women of the neighborhood become a little more empowered”, she adds.

Despite not being able to paint, the neighbors do not leave the mural and make several visits to the artists. The bags with food, cans or drinks that have been brought to them are also on the sidewalk. “They have us very spoiled,” says Jorge. They are people like Enrique. She carries a bag in her right hand and with the other she holds two-year-old Olivia. Together they come from the supermarket, where they have bought juice and are beginning to distribute it among the artists: “It seems very good that they restore the mural. Also, it is important that my daughter grows up seeing gestures like this and not vandalization, which was only hate” .

“What they did here half a year ago is an insult to women,” protests Tere. “An insult from two chumps, because the majority of society I am fully convinced that it does not approve of it,” replies her cousin. “Now, before them? Love, there is no other. It’s what they like least.”

In the same vein, Irene Yagüe, belonging to Unlogic and the collective The mural is not touched. While she talks to this medium, her companions paint with concentration. “They tried to destroy it, but what they have done is to unite us all. The message they wanted to send is that they cross women out, but they have achieved the opposite. It has really turned out the other way around,” she points out convinced.

“I do not understand the fear that a wall gives these people. It is irrational, absurd,” says Cristóbal, contemplating the progress made in restoring the wall. Together with his son Leo and many people from Madrid, he has participated all these months in protests and demands to ask for the restoration of the mural. “We are very committed to this,” he stresses, “we could not be absent here today. It is important.” “I liked drawing,” says Leo, who asks his father why they erased it: “We don’t know, there are many theories, son, and none is a good thing,” Cristóbal ditches, affectionately removing and putting the cap on his son, repeating the game he had started earlier.

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