The Finite Land
Notes on El Reparo - The Fix
- Adolfo! My great-grandfather wasn’t a miner; it was my uncle and cousin. My uncle died in a mining accident.
This was the only comment that my father made in a conversation that my mother and I were weaving together a short time ago, reaching a climax of only a few phrases at most. When the dialogue began its inevitable fadeout Pedrin started to introduce new harmonics to vary the loop we were in and open up cracks in the syncopated rhythms.
The passing of time, more than literature and calendars, has modified our DNA. Each memory is an amplified synaesthesia, growing; a wave in crescendo searching its own crack in the podium of earlier memories. Memory and the mechanisms that choreograph it are surely a mix between Charon making his way into the Lake of Styx, a ballroom and the chorus of Cruz de Navajas (Crossed Knives) by Mecano. Memories are the lines of a daily storytelling that we go through: Exaggerating, deforming, cutting and moulding to our will. This time my memory – far from the family history which is jointly experienced and agreed on – is found on a much smaller pedestal than you’d expect. The fact that my great-grandfather and my father were miners I had already found striking. This turn of events pierced straight through me.
To take on and embody your experiences, to balance the desire to belong with the impulse to flee, became the minefield in which I chose to move early on. The place which wounds or curses, an inevitable dichotomy, something very much from Cartagena. As a small child I didn’t like my father driving his work car (a C15 van) as a family means of transport. This was nothing to do with morality, I think; this was just that looking out from the window of the Alfa Romeo 75 that my family had bought made me feel a certain air of grandeur that took me away from the interior fragility of the days of college, playtime and football for just a moment. The interior fracturing that separated me increasingly from the tangible and pushed me inevitably toward living inside the possibility of change as an unconscious survival tool.
Going back to the mines
When the cardiovascular movement patterns begin to complain from 35 onwards, I decided to include a look into the past and open up the extreme ends to welcome the other years. Those where gestures get scrunched up in order to try unsuccessfully to shut off the right part of my brain, thus enabling me to cut off hearing and other senses. I tried, in short, to enter into a state which would let me walk straight ahead and not slow down while going down some of the roads leading to school, I entered into the ecosystem of the playground or began going out more with my friends to the Rambla to have a drink (*Licor 42 with pineapple, I’m sure). This was our escape.
Some years ago I went on a trip with a group of friends, which was sort of something between initiation and functional, to the Song Festival of La Mina in La Union, Murcia. My friend Alberto had been going for years (he was always the cardiovascular one) and he told me that it was something I had to see and that couldn’t be expressed just in language. I imagine that unconsciously returning to my homeland with this group would protect me or would allows me to go deeper more safely into the things which where latent. Every moment of this tip opened up Pandora but added a new layer of memory which, to some extent, balanced things out.
The Mineras along with Cartageneras are a branch of what is called cante hondo (popular flamenco tradition), in which ornamentation is neither used nor expected. No traditional flamenco buleria o jaleo – (cheering and clapping form the audience). Imagine a Martian landscape, a barren land, not a shred of vegetation of concession to nature, this is where the Mineras are sung, and that is where the find their meaning. The Minera is a song which gives solace in pain, which will accompany you to your inevitable end. Without a doubt, embracing what is vulnerable is the only option when the shockwave inevitably nears the horizon.
For the new memories and moments that I began to experience there would be the only possible landscape.
**El Reparo - The Fix...
We give up time in our lives to the useless searches and tasks that require thousands of reincarnations to sketch out some kind of logic. I give up my time to look for bridges between the past and the present, my family and the narrative or traces that we leave behind us in the passing of time.
Mark Ashton echoed in my head as the perfect link between my father, the past, and my need to conciliate the present. Mark went through me with a force I still can’t quite understand. He made me comprehend the uneasiness of the mother while waiting for her children to come back from the mine, the sensation of disorientation and separation that mining imposed, and the life in this separate space. To live in the constant doubt of whether moving near to the centre of the hurricane you will find calm or if this is just another urban myth, like the woman on the curve of the road or whether having a swim in Portman bay supposes any sort of health risk.
Ashton, the English activist and unionist, who convinced a group of LGBTQ activists to support the 1984 mine strikes, appeared suddenly like a vibrant firefly ready to be turned on, like when you try to draw invisible lines like those in the constellations. It may have been that those days of Thatcher in England are not much different to those of the growing palpable patriotic fascism, which takes advantage of a general uneasiness to spread out, supported by demagogy and years of belittlement of education and culture.
Mining and the abuse inflicted on the landscape has turned La Union (Cartagena) into a zone of permanent barrenness. Wind energy has invaded the area vainly trying to compensate for the poison injected into the bedrock. Lola begins to sing the melody as a mediator in this invisible conflict. Pedro wrote the text. Music gives way to the poetic.
There are many layers of reparos – fixes in the works which can be seen over these days at Espai Tactel (Valencia). On one hand the title makes a direct reference to the typical drink which used to be consumed by the miners of the Sierra mining company Cartagena-la Union, before beginning or finishing a long day’s work. The mix of brandy and sweet wine in a cup of coffee which soothed the damp of the cold mornings at the pit. On the other hand the title pronounces the mea culpa through Lola’s voice.
She tries to calm or mediate in the unbalanced flux created between the mining work and the care of the land itself, without realizing that El Reparo -The Fix began at the moment at which the Siddharth began to record and she stared lost at the horizon. There are many ways to muddy the waters, to calm the beasts and become plant. There are many ways to embody experienced earthquakes that may split you in two arbitrarily and unexpectedly
The earth gave up the land to memory
*Licor 42 is a sickly-sweet liquor beloved of adolescents for their first parties.
**The “reparo” is both something that repairs – fixes something – and a restorative drink made from different types of alcohol and coffee, traditionally drunk by miners in the region of drunk by miners as a pick-me-up.
El Reparo – The Fix
Voice: Lola Martínez Sánchez
Text: Pedro Conesa Meroño
Video editing 3d: Siddharth Gautam Singh