And remember that your poor memory
let the golden fish flow between its numbed fingers.
Accepting the definition of memory as the persistence of the past, it can be stated that the city itself is memory. Therein, memory and its material base coincide. The physical structure of the city absorbs everything that takes place within it, and in this way, it is dynamically configured. Consequently, it seems evident that a profound experience of the city requires a strong immersion in its memory, with the final aim of discovering the mesh of roots by which it is nourished and continues to grow and develop.
In this context, I decided to carry out a poetic, emotional and psycho-geographical exploration of my childhood environment. One day, in February 2007, I was strolling in the park where I used to play as a child. After being astonished at the cracks in the ground caused by tree-roots, I ended up in a small, semi-circular square with a sculpture of a cow in the middle. This place constitutes one of the epicentres of my childhood. On the wall at the right side of the square, I suddenly saw a relief I had forgotten, representing a woman giving a cow a drink. But it was not the same as when I was a child. The face of the woman had become stained. She was crying blood.
But it was not the same as when I was a child.
The face of the woman had got stained. She was crying blood.
A year and a half later, in August 2008, I saw a reproduction of Magritte’s Memory. The same face sculpted in the stone, the same blood stain below the wavy hair of Mnemosyne.
René Magritte, Memory (1942)
Shortly after that, I found out that this park —Dr. Morales’ Park— takes its name from the contemptible founder of the sanatorium where Leonora Carrington was interned in 1940: a shameful place where she was subjected to terrible practices and where she encountered horror, humiliation and desperation. The land once occupied by the sanatorium was later sold by Dr. Morales to the Santander City Council, and all the buildings were demolished in 1965 to enable the construction of the new park.
One of the buildings of Dr. Morales sanatorium
(Photograph taken by Pablo Hojas Llama, December 21th 1963, Santander Center of Graphic Documentation)
Demolition of the sanatorium
(Photograph taken by Pablo Hojas Llama, April 21th 1965, Santander Center of Graphic Documentation)
Nowadays, there is no trace of the sanatorium, just children playing where the stones cry.
(Published in Phosphor – a surrealist luminescence, #3, 2011, Leeds UK)