questioning the real royal – a graphic proposal for Manifesta 8
In 1950, a banner displayed on the front of the Maison du Peuple in Brussels exhorted the belgian people to vote against the return of King Leopold the III to the Belgian throne. It was one of the most violent strikes in the history of Belgium, with three protesters killed when the gendarmerie opened fire with automatic guns. This process was called the Question Royale.
The façade is symbollic of a european attitude of sorts towards negation which has shaped the supranational landscape, specially when it has involed the francophone states and their chauvinistic tendencies. Maybe, but just maybe, is this constant denial of power – kind of a substitution rather than a dissolution – the very uniqueness of european identity. Big words indeed, but let’s put it this way: be it King Leopold, NATO, or the European Constitution, to mention just a few, there’s an overall impression of Europe as a series of ”noes” – or woes – that, more often than not, end up becoming a yes. Has this anything to do with Ranciére’s sentence-image and the affirmation-negation he purports? Probably not… mostly yes. But we can surely enough trace some similarities between the french philosopher’s thesis and the practice of intellectual rewriting that I am about to suggest.
In the context of Manifesta 8 Paralelos, Fernández-Pello, member of the research team Correspondencia desde Eyjafjallajökull, comes up with the reconstruction and rearrangement of the historical document-façade – denying its prior meaning and yet nodding to the european traditional state of denial [hence a negative-affirmation] – in order to constitute an image-sentence that has more to do with the political involvement of the individual than with the fall of representative democracy that the image apparently conveys.
The shape of this intervention is yet to be specified. Both a full-scale model – calculated from the relationship between the original banners and its surrounding architecture – and a sized-down version that can be used in different enviroments are awaiting approval. The following is just one of the few possibilities that are being considered: