I recently found a well-preserved Spanish cavalry saber and scabbard, which I have seen variously described as a 1907 pattern or 1917 pattern. The scabbard is marked “Toledo,” and I’ve wanted a blade from the city that armored the conquistadors since I was a kid. Overlooking my postcolonial fetishism, this was an interesting time in Spain’s history…of course the sword has seen service, and because every weapon to hand was used in the Spanish Revolution, I imagine this was too.
Displaying a sword is tricky: I didn’t want the bracketed katana and sheath you see in lads’ bedrooms and Hollywood corner offices. That’s usually the sword ensemble we see in my generation. This had to be understated, use upcycled materials, and practically vanish around the hardware and against the wall. It fit best beside the couch, below the staircase, in a disused space too oddly-angled to display anything else.
After some fiddling, I fabbed a mount using elements-rusted steel stock stick-welded together (so as not to disturb the rust patina) with a “modular podular” unit at the base to adjust height and assemble under the couch. The m-p unit uses the tension of two welded-on galvanized steel rods (salvaged from a rolldown security grate) forced into holes in the base to adjust the angle of the totality. The base assembly can also be put together under the couch, and then the stand-rod seated in a socket in the base.
Neodymium button-magnets hold the sword and scabbard in place, yet allow them to be removed easily for inspection. As the photos show, the details of the work are such that no one display angle can feature them all.
Happily, there are more of these posters on the Internet than I’d thought, so this will be a smaller upload project than I’d planned. But sadly, in some cases they are preserved digitally and publicly only because some profiteering scoundrel has dragged them from the archives onto a mug, glossy poster or mousepad, where they can be slowly sanded away by wrist taint and mouse action. As if that’s not profane enough, they’re sometimes emblazoned with a watermark as if the profiteer has any rights to the image!
The final irony is the seller’s location in Las Vegas. My copy has not been retouched like this one at left, and was folded and scribbled on, but one could argue that makes it more authentic. I’m reproducing mine here because if/when these are sold out, the image may disappear when the cache is cleared.
Maybe it’s performing a public service to get these posters back in circulation for a mere $9.95 USD + shipping. Still the watermarking galls me, as much as my wrath is tilting at windmills in a world where Christ is already a night light (but on the other hand, Y_hw_h’s name cannot be spoken and portrayals of Muhammad invite ire and fire). Some periods and some defeats shouldn’t be dragged back into daylight without sober reflection on their course, which is likely beyond the opportunist spraying on this exhumed shroud like a graveyard tomcat.
So fuck you “Artscape Galleries.” I put nazar on your poster printer.
N.B.: “Union de Muchachas” and “Aliança de la Dona Jove” were young women’s associations that, besides working for the uplift and enfranchisement of Spanish women, engaged in antifascist agitation.
The Republic created more schools than the monarchy or reactionary government. It wasn’t just to have an informed electorate that would help preserve the nascent democracy: “To win this significant war is to secure culture for all the people.”
Our power was just turned on after 11 days in the cold & dark after Hurricane Sandy. It’s at times like that, isolated and deracinated compared to our forebears, that you’re jarringly aware of the lack of a popular anything, much less a popular army. In an age of international law that has supposedly obviated war (more like supplanted it), what would a popular army fight for anyway?
I wonder if you can get espadrilles like these anymore (search the web, it’s funny). They seem to have been commodified into cannibalizing their origins. What kind of brandless footwear could we wear today to indicate culture, history, ethnic and regional solidarity?
In my ongoing paean to the activities and work of politically engaged artists, I’d be remiss to omit posters from an illiterate age that required graphics as hortative as the text they illustrated.
During the Spanish Revolution (or Spanish Civil War) of 1936-1939, Spanish illiteracy was at 45%, and 70% of the population were peasants. Unlike today’s wars of choice, everyone had to be involved, so a proliferation of posters and lyric poems, holdovers from an oral poetic tradition, spoke to the people on all sides of the conflict.
Today, advertising has conditioned us to depend on the image, often to the calculated exclusion of the words—think of the small financing print in a car commercial or the 2-point font “credits are unlikely to transfer” in a technical college ad. Even full-size text in marketing material is rife with typos; I recently drove behind a pizza truck that informed me it was delivering for a “Food Service Distributor Suppling Pizzerias and Restaurants.”
To a war-torn society devolving into aliteracy, I (re)introduce the propaganda poster as a weekly series on Olive Green.
SIMILAR RESOURCES (continually updated)
Brandeis University’s Spanish Civil War poster collection