© XAVIER RIBAS - It Would Never Be Quite The Same Again [2015]. Variable dimensions. Ed of 3+1 ap


Galeria ProjecteSD, April 2015



Developed as three large, detailed photographs and two found images, alongside artist’s texts and copies of original documentation, It Would Never Be Quite The Same Again weaves together a series of contested sites and acts of dissent. The works interrogate a number of events and documents construed as distant echoes in the recent history of Chile, Great Britain and Spain of the detonations in the late 19th and early 20th century nitrate fields of the Atacama Desert. The series is an appendix to my long term project Nitrate, presented in 2014 at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona [MACBA], and conjures up a wide network of interconnected geographies and histories, of personal and collective memories on the distinctive political contexts of Spain and Chile around 1973, and on historical relationships between Chile and Great Britain – my country of residence since 2000 – which are at the heart of the Nitrate project. For both bodies of work, the Atacama Desert operates as a vanishing point. 

The title It Would Never Be Quite The Same Again refers to the words uttered in court by a British judge to support his verdict on the defacement in 2002 of a statue of Margaret Thatcher, a renowned supporter of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The same judge that brought a guilty verdict against the London activist's defacement of the statue of the former British Prime Minister reappears in another piece, Now You Have To Look At The Evidence Coldly And Dispassionately, hearing the case of a group of activists who in 2009 smashed up an ITT owned weapons factory in Brighton while Israel was attacking Gaza. This time, however, and interestingly, the activists were acquitted on the grounds of acting 'out of necessity' to prevent Israel unlawfully destroying Palestinian property with weapons produced in Brighton, and the judge was accused of anti-Semitism.

The 1991 ground-breaking detention and house arrest of Augusto Pinochet in London on charges of torture, state repression, disappearance and homicide, is the subject of another work, Thus The Dream Of My Youth And The Love Of My Life Passed Away And Left Me Desolate, where Pinochet's fate overlaps with that of a 19th century Spanish warlord, the Count of Morella, and that of stones from the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, in present day Libya, brought to England in 1816 as a gift to the Prince Regent, later stitched together as a folly in the grounds of Windsor Palace and given the name of Temple of Augustus, to then fall into a state of disrepair by the time Pinochet lived under house arrest less than three hundred yards away.

A Unique and Inevitable Voice recalls a lost film interview with Salvador Allende from a handful of photocopies kept in the Museum of Contemporary Art Vicente Aguilera Cerni in Vilafamés, Castelló. The interview was recorded on 16 mm film in 1972 by an Italian journalist to be broadcast on US television channel CBS, but it was censored and put away until eventually shown for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 1974, Allende already dead and Chile plunged deep in Pinochet's violent regime folowing the military coup supported through covert action by the CIA and US corporations with interests in Chile like ITT. 

Finally, Everyone Casts their Own Shadow traces a number of events surrounding ETA's assassination in 1973 of Admiral Carrero Blanco in Madrid, which disrupted the succession plans of the elderly Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco, little over 5 months after he had handed over the government of the country to his right-hand man. A painting by Antoni Tàpies, L'esperit català (1971), purchased in Paris in the summer of 1973 by a wealthy collector from Pamplona, whose brother had earlier the same year been kidnapped by ETA, acts as a premonition of the detonation that send Carreo Blanco's car flying through the air. The fact that the painting is now in the collection of the Museo Universidad de Navarra, as is the 19th century album of photographs of the Alianza nitrate mine in the Atacama Desert, allows me to close the circle and put an end to my work on Chilean nitrate.

© Xavier Ribas


PDF [Cast]




It Would Never Be Quite The Same Again (2015), 58,6 x 41 cm each

PDF Text [En]
PDF Text [Cast]




A Unique And Inevitable Voice (2014), Photograph: 150 x 190 cm; Text: 58,6 x 41 cm

PDF Text [En]
PDF Text [Cast]




Thus The Dream Of My Youth And The Love Of My Life Passed Away And Left Me Desolate (2015), Photograph: 150 x 190 cm; Text: 58,6 x 41 cm

PDF Text [En]
PDF Text [Cast]




Now You Have To Look At The Evidence Coldly And Dispassionately (2015), Photograph: 150 x 190 cm; Text: 58,6 x 41 cm

PDF Text [En]
PDF Text [Cast]

PDF Judge Bathurst-Norman summing up [En]




Everyone Casts Their Own Shadow (2015), 58,6 x 41 cm each

PDF Text [En]
PDF Text [Cast]
PDF Text [Cat]



The Evidence [Ceri Gibbons's Files, Smash Edo] (2015)









Installation photographs Galeria ProjecteSD, April 2015


Everyone Casts Their Own Shadow (Detail)








Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona 2017
ISBN: 978-84-945596-4-8
12 pages, 29 x 39.5 cm, softbound
Three editions of 100 copies [English, Spanish and Catalan], signed and numbered.







"In these potent works, Ribas attempts a form of triangulation with the trajectories of the photograph and the written language – yet, what he hopes to pinpoint is not really to be found by looking directly at locations so much as from audacious moral and spatial strategies: covert action, expatriation, universal jurisdiction, coup d'états, vandalism and the 'lawful excuse' defence that committing an offence can be justified in order to prevent a more serious crime."

[Max Andrews, Frieze no. 173, Sept 2015, p.175]



Related files

ProjecteSD exhibition poster designed by Xavier Ribas
Espai Visor exh ibition poster designed by Xavier Ribas
Ángela Molina, "La trama visual de la resistencia". El País/Babelia 02.05.2015 [Cast]
Max Andrews, "Xavier Ribas. ProjecteSD", Barcelona. Frieze No. 173, London 2015 [PDF En]
Paloma Villalobos, "La Libertad y lo espectral en el trabajo de Xavier Ribas", Revista Imaginarios Visuales, December 2015 [PDF Cast]
José Luís Clemente, Otras formas de ver. El Cultural, 18.12.2015 [Cast]
Marta Dahó, 'Fotografías en Cuanto Espacio Público'. Revista de Estudis Globales y Arte Contemporáneo., Vol 3, Núm 1, 2015 [Cast]