© XAVIER RIBAS - Nitrate_A History of Detonations (2014) 12 Digital offset prints on Cyclus Offset paper (100g), 42 x 29.7 cm each. Edition of 3+1ap.


A History of Detonations. Installation MACBA, 2014 [Installation photograph: Marc Roig]



A History of Detonations is a set of 12 posters that folded become pages of the Nitrate exhibition catalogue. They contain location photographs made as research material during visits to sites and archives related to the project, as well as relevant old photographs, postcards, and discarded original press prints bought on the internet. With the folding of the posters into double sided book pages, the juxtaposition of images of dispersed sites, events, and objects creates a sequence of anachronisms and geographical discontinuities that suggest lines of enquiry and the fragmented character of the project's narrative and dispositive.



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A History of Detonations # 1 to 12

[pp. 11 and 166] View from a steamship at sea during a 1907 Atlantic crossing.

[pp. 12 and 165] Aerial view of a shelled landscape on the Western Front during the First World War, c. 1918.

[pp. 60 and 19] Chilean Nitrate publicity postcard, c. 1920.

[pp. 20 and 59] Población Jorge Inostrosa, Iquique, 2009. Workers killed in the School of Santa María on 21 December 1907 were originally buried in an unidentified mass grave in Cementerio 2, which was demolished in the first half of the 1960s to make space for the rapidly expanding neighbourhood.

[pp. 55 and 21] Oficina Alianza and Port of Iquique 1899. Photographic album in the collection of the Museo Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona. [p. 58] Louise Purbrick examining the photograph Drying floors and bagging of nitrate. [p. 21] Letter from J. I. Smail to Lord Aldenham sent with the album of photographs on 18 July 1900: ‘My dear Lord Aldenham, I am sending you herewith an Album of Views of Alianza Iquique, which I would ask you to accept as a souvenir of our last and I hope not least among Nitrate Oficinas. The views were taken about the middle of last year. Believe me, yours very sincerely, J. I. Smail.’

[pp. 22 and 57] Panoramic views of the ruins of Oficina Alianza and the surrounding landscape taken in December 2011 from the top of the slag heap.

[pp. 56 and 23] German boat releasing a sea mine in the Baltic Sea during the First World War, c. 1915.

[pp. 24 and 55] IRA bomb incidents in London, 1973. [p. 24] ‘Explosion outside the Old Bailey. View showing shattered cars and windows of a building opposite the Old Bailey, after this afternoon’s blast.’ (Keystone, 8 March 1973). [p. 55] ‘Wave of fire and letter bombs in London…. One of the fire bombs discovered today contained in a cigarette packet and wired to small batteries – pictured at today’s Press Conference at Scotland Yard.’ (Keystone, 21 August 1973).

[pp. 54 and 25] NASA press photographs. Images sent by lander Viking I from the surface of Mars between July and August 1976.

[pp. 26 and 53] Warnings of anti-personnel mines around Oficina Chacabuco, 2011. In 1971 elected Chilean president Salvador Allende declared the ruins of Chacabuco a Historic National Monument dedicated to the memory of the nitrate workers. In 1973, coup leader General Augusto Pinochet made Chacabuco a concentration camp for political prisoners. This was part of an undeclared but premeditated campaign against the historical landscape of the Chilean labour movement.

[pp. 52 and 27] Salvador Allende. [p. 52] ‘The presidential salon where Marxist Salvador Allende reportedly committed suicide during the September 11 [coup], is still in shambles and untouched.’ (AP wirephoto, Santiago de Chile, 29 September 1973). [p. 27] ‘Chile’s new Marxist president-elect: Dr. Salvador Allende, the Marxist president-elect of Chile, declares that neither the Communist Party nor any other group will be allowed to run his government. The 62-year old Socialist senator, who is to be confirmed as president next Saturday, insists that “there will be no dominance or supremacy by any party. Remember that I will be president… and have the sense, the responsibility and the dignity to fill the highest post that can be granted to a man in this country”, he declares.’ (AP Wirephoto, New York City, 17 October 1971).

[pp. 28 and 51] IRA Bishopsgate bombing, London 1993. ‘Scene of devastation, Monday, showing the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, right, and the crater, lower left, made by a bomb concealed in a dump truck which exploded Saturday April 24, killing one, injuring over 30 and causing at least 1.5 billion US dollars’ damage to London’s financial district. The Irish Republican Army has claimed responsibility for the disaster.’ (AP Photo/Adam Butler, 26 April 1993).






Pages 20-21



Pages 24-25



Pages 12-165



Pages 28-51



A History of Detonations. Book pages [Design and photo: Hermanos Berenguer]