Photographer(s): Roberto Aguirrezabala
Writer(s): Roberto Aguirrezabala
Designer(s): Roberto Aguirrezabala
Publisher(s): Self-published, Bilbao, Spain
Print run: 300
Language(s): Spanish, Basque, English
Inserts: a guide in a pocket inside the book comprising 32 pages, with the texts sewn in red thread in 3 languages (Spanish, Basque and English); a fold-out poster; and 8 inserts with reproductions of documents, modified bank-notes, post-cards and photos.
Size: 22 x 29 cm
Print: Laboratorio para el Arte by Estudios Durero, Zamudio, Spain
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest: World, 1953 -1990
Antimanifesto is a photobook that looks at citizen-based movements in reaction to authoritarian power. The iconoclastic nature of the project means that it is positioned against dogma, but the book still retains its character as a manifesto in the sense of a fundamental undertaking to act from the viewpoint of civil and worker-based dissidence.
In essence, Antimanifesto is two books, one of them physically inside the other. The main section Anti uses photos and historical objects modified by Aguirrezabala to examine uprisings against Soviet domination in the satellite states of the Eastern Bloc. These involved strong actions of trade-union resistance, workers’ rebellions and uprisings by sectors of the left which soon came to see Stalinism as a grotesque deviation from true communism. Following the death of Stalin there were numerous uprisings against Soviet hegemony. The earliest of them ended in tragedy, e.g. Berlin in 1953, Budapest in 1956 and the Prague Spring and Charter 77 uprisings in Czechoslovakia. Later, in the late 1980s, protests were eminently peaceful, e.g. the Solidarność movement in Poland and the Singing Revolution in the Baltic countries. With the turn of the 90s came the inevitable collapse of communism, when the ambitious glasnost ended up devouring the unsustainable perestroika in a final attempt to get back to a much-longed-for, original Marxist-Leninism.
Inside Anti is the second book: Manifesto. This is the first-edition, original 1848 German-language version of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, which is printed in full on the inside pages. The text by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is assaulted, invaded, attacked violently by a repressive Red Army. Aguirrezabala overlays on the German text a number of photos of minimalist scenes laid out as vignettes which walk the line between humour, irony and denunciation, putting the civilian population in the position of passive witnesses forced to watch outbursts of fury. An interlinked dialogue is thus established between the two books, carried on in a continuous, unending sequence that alternates between liberating uprisings and violent repression, evidencing the final condemnation of the self-destruction of the state.