10 / 10 / 2016


The Question: How (from your experience and perspective) do artistic practices create public sphere?

I started young, and up until today / in this Cantabrian region, I have created a lot of humour / although they will bury me, they won’t forget me / in eighty years’ time, they will still speak of me.*

In what way do artistic practices contribute to creating the public sphere? The first thing that came to mind was that verse by Txirrita, which we have just listened to, given that it deals with the mark made on society by a vital practice. At that time, the early XX century, many people memorised verses and they were popularised by word of mouth. Now, in the year 2016, when exactly eighty years have passed since Txirrita’s prophecy, I too have realized that I know the verse by heart, and I was surprised, because, until now, I hadn’t realized that I did indeed know it. And…why do I know it? Because in the 1990s Basque public television broadcast a series of cartoons about Txirrita and during the opening credits they played that song, so, by repeatedly hearing it as a child, in the end I knew it by heart, without intending to. It might be that other people also know the verse without being aware of it, but obviously not the majority of the population, given that the TV channel, ETB1, is not and was not the channel with the biggest audience. You have to know the Basque language, and that in itself is already a great barrier. The cartoons about Txirrita were in the public sphere, just like Txirrita’s verses, but in certain spheres they were and continue to be invisible, somewhat remote.

Art, in some spheres, is practice and discussion, we build a gaze and a common imaginary, the public sphere and the private sphere nourish each other. On the other hand, in other spheres, art is something remote.

*First verse, fragment of “Txirritaren lehendabiziko bertso lagunak”. Extract from the record “Txirritaren bertsoak”, by Xabier Lete and Antton Valverde (Herri Gogoa / Edigsa, 1976).