Website of "Archivo F.X." (
Thesaurus "The Unavowable Community" (Detail)
Archivo F.X., Exhibition view, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, 2006
Archivo F.X., Exhibition view, Fundación Botin, Santander, 2010
Archivo F.X., Exhibition view, Fundación Botin, Santander, 2010
La Critique Sociale
Marcel Maus

ARCHIVO F.X. / Pedro G. Romero

(also see:

The project Archivo F.X. started by Romero in 1999, is based on a continually expanding collection of various materials—photos, texts, audiovisual documents—on anticlerical iconoclasm in Spain. The documents originate from the century spanning between 1845 and 1945, with a particular focus on the nineteen-thirties (Second Spanish Republic and Spanish Civil War). They show destroyed sculptures and altars, as well as churches that were expropriated, plundered, or subjected to other functions, taken apart stone for stone or burned to the ground. Contained in the archive are photos of stolen liturgical items or of statues of Christ displaying the initials of Spain’s anarcho-syndicalist union, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT). Forming the background for such widespread anticlerical activities were the societal, political, and ideological conflicts within the country, which in 1936 culminated in the Civil War.

What sets Archivo F.X. apart is its classification concept, which associates what at first glance appears to be two disconnected contexts: here political, anticlerical iconoclasm in Spain is contrasted with positions from the international avant-gardes from the realms of visual arts, literature, theory, et cetera. This means that each individual iconoclastic image document is recorded under the name of an artist, an artists’ group, a movement, an art institution, art magazine, or a work title from the avant-garde. For example, the façade of a church dispossessed in 1936 in the Catalan city of Olot has been titled “Critique of German Intelligence” as an allusion to a work by Hugo Ball. An effigy of a saint whose eyes are cutted out has in turn been named after artist Hannah Höch.

Romero thus interlinks radical forms of anticlerical image destruction with equally radical twentieth- and twenty-first-century art practices—which, iconoclastic in their own way, oppose the existing systems of representation. Though, iconoclasm, as interpreted by the artist, implies not so much a negation of the image or of the art itself, but instead an actual validation of its symbolic function.

Each of the aforementioned image-keyword combinations—which introduce the different Archivo F.X. “files”—are followed by textual fragments of varying origin, which alternately allude to the iconoclastic act documented by the image and to the author or work named in the keyword—thus generating new and surprising chains of associations.

As such, the Archivo F.X. files emerge as dense image-text fabrics that activate—both individually and reciprocally—a multifaceted process of de- and recontextualization. This process also affects the different stagings of the Archivo F.X., generated in ever-new ways.

For the files merely form the foundation or “toolbox” (Romero) for the diverse variety of forms taken by the Archivo F.X., including workshops, publications, objects, installations, audiovisual works, and so forth, with new referential areas of content being integrated again and again throughout the process.

Romero’s project thus entails far more than just a simple juxtaposition of concrete examples of iconoclastic encroachments and radical artistic practices. It moreover invokes these so as to create a widely ramified, rhizomatic rereading of a political, ideological, and aesthetic narrative: an undertaking that, according to the artist himself, is localized “somewhere between documentation and dance.”

In terms of his methodological approaches—montage, rereading, citation, the idea of the interminable work, and the idea of the archive as a machine—Romero explicitly makes reference to the methods of Walter Benjamin (Arcades Project), Aby Warburg (Mnemosyne-Atlas), and Georges Bataille (Documents).

The artist himself considers his project an endeavor to “urbanize the province of nihilism” (as inspired by Jürgen Habermas).

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