Vozdbizhenka st., 5/25
In November of 1937, the most iconic monument of Madrid—the fountain of the goddess Cybele—disappeared from the capital of Spain, and a wood Falla replica reappeared in the Soviet Union. The original was covered in Madrid to protected it from the air raids during the civil war. The replica was a gift of the Spanish Republic to the Soviets for their support. Fallas are traditional monuments in the Spanish city of Valencia, where people gather every year to build them and eventually burn them in a bonfire. Spanish Communists thought this was a good model to build the monuments of international communism: instead of ones made out stone for all eternity, monuments should be ephemeral. What is monumentalized is not the monument in itself, but the ritual of gathering to build and destroy together.
Ephemeral Treasures seeks to invite visitors to a reflection on how we built and protected monuments in the past and today. It reenacts this 1937 gift by building a Falla of the protective structure of Cybele during the war, which is exhibited alongside images of the protection of Madrid’s monuments. After the closing of the exhibition, the Falla will be burned in a bonfire, as is traditional in Spain.
This exhibition is co-curated by Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Miguel Caballero and Robert Bird and sponsored by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, and the Spanish Embassy in Moscow.