Spain: World Champions of Unemployment

July 1, 2013

“Hacking” a statue the Spanish government rents out for advertising, art collective Enmedio staged an “anti-ad” to remind tourists Spain is not just a country of beach parties and soccer: it is also a world champion in unemployment, with 6 million people out of work.

Spain is cool: they say so on TV. Spain has sun and beaches, tapas and flamenco, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Spain is a world champion in soccer, basketball, tennis and MotoGP. Spain discovered America, invented the Spanish tortilla, the mop and Chupa Chups. Spain is fun. People have a ball here. That’s why the guiris come: to party, have good times, be happy. That’s the Spain brand you see in ads and newspapers. That’s why our politicians say: “yu ar a uina.”

They may be right, but they’re forgetting something: Spaniards are also world champions in unemployment. We’ve just smashed the record of six million unemployed, and counting. That’s something that really makes us special, numero uno, true World Champions. And that deserves an ad of its own.

I made the above ad together with my friends in Enmedio, a collective of professional image makers who work “in the midst of” art, media and politics. Enmedio, which means “in the midst of” in Spanish, is the result of a rupture. All of us broke away from our usual field of work because we failed to find meaning in the places set aside for us: art academies, advertising agencies, production companies and so on. We believe the basis for social change is culturally rooted in the stories that give meaning to our lives and to the world in which we live.

Fiction is the very core of reality. Everything from a demonstration (a theatrical action in the streets) to a political speech (which draws from images and the imaginary) is fiction. What matters are the effects of fictions: whether we are able to re-appropriate them, whether we believe them and whether they make us feel empowered or impotent. My friend and collaborator Nuria Campabadal calls capitalism “a great storyteller, with an enormous capacity to seduce.” In Enmedio, we aim to make more autonomous narratives—stories about the way we really live, and the way we really want to live.

The above text draws from an interview with members of Enmedio in the Spanish newspaper El Diario. To read the full interview in English, click here. To read it in Spanish, click here.