Dark is the room where we sleep

Art News

Artium Presents the Exhibition Dark is the Room Where We Sleep, by Francesc Torres

“Whilst doing only what is possible is healthy and reasonable, it is also dreary, and life is short anyway. Maybe for these reasons I am determined to win the Spanish Civil War”. These words were uttered by the Catalonian artist Francesc Torres (Barcelona, 1948), talking about his installation Dark Is The Room Where We Sleep, which has provided the title for the exhibition presented at ARTIUM. He went on to explain what he meant by his statement. Winning the war “consists, no more and no less,” he declares, “of preventing people from mistaking those who are in the right historically for those who are not. It involves never putting the innocent and the tyrants in the same basket. It consists of recovering the victims of a sinister regime so that everyone may know that they were indeed the victims and, once the fire is out, abandon weapons.”

one city: Painting as an act of compassion

“Painting is a medium in which the mind can actualize itself; it is a medium of thought…Painting is…the mind realizing itself in color and space.”  – Robert Motherwell

On Friday May 1st, the ID Project Arts Group went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit one of Robert Motherwell’s paintings from his series of “Elegies to the Spanish Republic”.  He made over one hundred and seventy of these paintings which were a lament for the people and the culture that died in the Spanish Civil War. Motherwell, who was only 21 at the time the Civil War broke out was struck by the realization “that the world could, after all, regress.”

Cervantes on Orwell on Jura

The locals knew him by his real name of Eric Blair, a tall, cadaverous, sad-looking man worrying about how he would cope on his own. The solution, when he was joined by baby Richard and his nanny, was to recruit his highly competent sister, Avril. Richard Blair remembers that his father “could not have done it without Avril. She was an excellent cook, and very practical. None of the accounts of my father’s time on Jura recognise how essential she was.”

Will Self on Jura:

George Orwell wrote 1984 on Jura. Did you think about him much?
Yes, particularly when I went up to Barn Hill. The people there now are the same people who rented the house to Orwell, so there’s that continuity. The house is unchanged since he was there. I found it oddly moving – which is not like me. The consciousness of how ill he was and how driven he was to work under those circumstances, what a grim time it was in the post-war period.



José María Martínez Castillo, ‘Koke’
1926 Cabredo-  2009 London

Word doc from Children of ’37

Paul Larkin on Jack Jones, Martin McGuinness and Bob Doyle.

Below the fold: anarchist history from Australia, Pittsburgh, Russia and Italy, council communist texts on-line, Karl Korsch, Franklin Rosemont…

From the archive of struggle, no.13 (while Comrade E is away)

New(ish) at Collective Action Notes:

New(ish) at Class Against Class:

Fragments of radical history

Australian anarchist history from SlackBastard:

• A Spanish-language bulletin produced in Innisfail, Queensland by cane cutters and described as “the best anarchist newspaper produced at the time anywhere in the world” deserves mention here, with an Italian-language anti-fascist newspaper, Il Risveglio, produced in 1927 in Sydney. [See also : The Proletarian Migrants: Fascism and Italian Anarchists in Australia, Gianfranco Cresciani, The Australian Quarterly, March, 1979.]
• A school, “Koornong,” which flourished from 1939 to 1948 is just one of numerous examples of efforts for libertarian education.
Harvey Buttonshaw, from Victoria, went to Spain to fight with the Syndicalists in 1936, and told George Orwell to pull his head in, or he’d get shot, just before exactly that happened. He is among the group shown on the front cover of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.
• English gay man and anti-fascist refugee from Nazi retribution, John Olday [1905–1977] developed a cabaret, “Immortal Clown,” for his Café La Boheme in 1959 Sydney. His LP record “Roses and Gallows” might have been picked up by the Sydney Libertarians who made a splash from the late 1950s into the 1960s, but they were more interested in free love, personal freedom, and betting systems.
• Australia also provided a haven for Bulgarian, Spanish, Italian, and other European anarchists after World War II, Bulgaria being one of the few places where an anarchist government held office for a period between the retreating Nazis and the Soviets. Some of these were instrumental in setting up the long-running Jura Bookshop [est.1977] in Sydney in the 1970s, from which Red Fern Black Rose [est. 1981/2] was a subsequent breakaway. Again, the split was largely between syndicalist and “lifestyle” anarchisms.

Pittsburgh anarchist history:

The Union of Russian Workers (in Steel City Revolt, found via Turista)

From the new issue of Organise! [pdf]

Feature on the Schlurfs [p.21]: “Schlurfs, no, not little blue gnomes but young people in Austria whorejected what the Nazis had to “offer” – the whole package of militarism, the work ethic, authoritarianism and race hatred.[…]”

Feature on John Dos Passos [.24]: “[…By 1938] Dos Passos was moving away from a radical position, and his doubts about the Communist Party began to accrue. The last straw for him were the events that unfolded with the Spanish Civil War. Dos Passos supported the Republic against the forces of Franco and visited Spain to lend his support, as did Ernest Hemingway and others. He discovered that his old friend Jose Robles, who had taken the side of the Republic had “disappeared”; executed by the secret
police under the control of the Soviets and their agents in Spain. He was disgusted by the behaviour of Hemingway, who gullibly swallowed all the lies that his Communist friends dished out. He was revolted by the repression that began against the anarchists and the independent Marxist party, the POUM.[…]”

Reviews [p.26] of Atamansha: The story of Maria Nikiforova – the anarchist Joan of Arc by Malcolm Archibald. (Black Cat Press, Edmonton, Alberta), Kontrrazvedka: the story of the Makhnovist intelligence service byVyacheslav Azarov (Black Cat Press, Edmonton, Alberta), and Emilio Canzi: an anarchist partisan in Italy and Spain by Palo Fini et al (Kate Sharpley Library).

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I took a group of my students to see the Torres exhibition. See here:


    Also, I wanted to let you know about this book I found out about via H-Labor:

    “Kiwi Compañeros”, the first and only account of New Zealanders’ participation in the Spanish Civil War, has just been published. A series of brief biographies records the actions of NZ combatants such
    as William Madigan, a seaman from Wellington who trained with the Abraham Lincoln Battalion in mid-1938. Bill Madigan died later that year during the Battle of the Ebro. Non-combatants from NZ include nurse Renee Shadbolt who worked on a succession of battle fronts from mid-1937 until the withdrawal of the International Brigades in late
    1938. During that time she married one of her patients, a German anti-fascist named Willi Remmel. After the civil war both were repatriated to their own countries and the outbreak of WW2 ensured that they never reunited.

    The book draws on research in public collections in Spain itself, in Britain, the US, Canada and Australia but most significantly in the
    Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Recent Historical Documents in Moscow where the civil war records were only declassified in the 1990s. It includes much previously unpublished material including an interview with Pedro De Treend, a veteran of the battle of Teruel and the last surviving NZ veteran of the civil war.

    “Kiwi Compañeros – New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War” is published by Canterbury University Press in association with the Labour History Project. Copies may be ordered internationally via the website

  2. Thanks companero. I will highlight this in the next post I do.

  3. […] Dark is the room where we sleep « Poumista on Urlaub – Holidays – VacancesGlarean Magazin on Theodor W. Adorno: Das Altern […]

  4. […] of Books: Kiwi Compañeros: NZ’s anti-Franco volunteers. See more in TNC’s comment here. Which led me to these two great older posts: Fieldtrip to the International Center […]

  5. […] obituaries: here, here, here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The death of Franklin Rosemont .video-plh […]

  6. […] Dark is the room where we sleep […]

  7. Exceptionally well written post

  8. A small and nice city in Germany with information and events around Emsbueren, Gleesen, Bramsche Helschen, Hesselte, Lohne, Sommeringen, Messingen, up to Lingen and Geeste and other places in our Emsland.

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