Friday, 19 July 2013

Artist of 'Always Franco' fame found not guilty

Artist Eugenio Merino stole the limelight at the ARCO modern art fair in Madrid last year with a satirical piece of art depicting Francisco Franco in full uniform, inside a Coca-Cola fridge. Then he got sued for his trouble.

The piece of art consists of a wax model of Franco in full military gear, frozen inside the fridge.

However, once the the Franco Foundation, an organization devoted to perpetuating the memory of the “Generalísimo”, as he is known, got wind of the artwork, they immediately filed suit against the sculptor for dishonoring the former dictator.

According to the artist, the idea behind his sculpture was to show how Francisco Franco was "frozen in the Spanish people's minds." He had no intention of mocking the former nationalist leader.

Last Thursday the foundation, which is headed up by Franco's daughter, told the Regional High Court of Madrid that they would be asking Merino to pay €18,000 in damages for the insult. However, in return, the public prosecutor asked for the charges to be dropped.

On Wednesday the judge found Merino not guilty saying that the work "Always Franco" is "a work of art that causes surprise, by the unusual location of the historical character" but that it "could not undermine the honor and the dignity of the claimant Foundation, as it does not exceed our current culture-specific social applications."

Merino explained to the national daily El País that he was merely attempting to show how Franco was frozen into the minds of Spaniards. “The bigger a deal they make of this, the more people support me,” Merino told the media on leaving the court and referring to the Franco Foundation’s insistence on pursuing the case.

“They’ve already buggered me and got what they wanted: publicity.”

Francisco Franco y Bahamonde, to give him his full name, ruled Spain with an iron fist from 1936 until his death in 1975. The last official statue to the former dictator was pulled down in 2008. However, he does have a tomb in the monument of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, near Madrid. And for now, artistic expression wins the day.

To the source: