At the start of the civil war, Constantino Suárez was a 37-year old professional photographer. 36-year-old Florentino López, known as Floro, owned a shop selling groceries, typewriters, and phtographic material. The two never met, yet between July 1936 and October 1937 both portrayed the conflict from the perspective of their different cities—Gijón y Oviedo—and sides—Suárez was active on the republican front, while López lived in a besieged city always controlled by the Nationalist rebels. Entitled ‘Frente a Frente’, a play of words on the ambiguity between ‘el frente’, the front, and ‘la frente’, the forhead, this exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Antropología presents photographs in the collection of the Museum of the Asturian People (Gijón), focusing on the similarity of subject rather than on differences in politics and outcome.
Eighty years have passed since the end of Spain’s most recent Civil War (1936–1939), but its traumatic legacy continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of generations of Spaniards. The dictatorship of Francisco Franco kept the wounds of the conflict open and raw. In the wars that raged across Europe from the 1930s onwards, the armies on the battlefield fought alongside the civilian population, which unfortunately took centre stage as the greatest victim of the violent conflicts. This exhibition shows different aspects of life during wartime in Asturias, among both civilians and combatants, between July 1936 and October 1937, when the fall of Gijón marked the definitive defeat of the Republican Northern Front. The images captured by these two photographers are similar in ways that transcend their attachment to the two opposing sides in the war. Both depicted the same society caught up in conflict. What they found was something in common: the same destruction, the same pain, the same suffering, but also the same wish to have life go on despite it all.
Click here for an article on the exhibition, published on 23 July in El País.