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Home Culture Laura García Lorca, on the management of the poet’s memory: “We are in a situation of great precariousness” | Culture

Laura García Lorca, on the management of the poet’s memory: “We are in a situation of great precariousness” | Culture

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“Although physically dead, he is a poet of impossible death.” That was one of the arguments used by Pilar del Río, president of the Saramago Foundation, and the lawyer Baltasar Garzón to request the posthumous Nobel Prize for Federico García Lorca in 2018. It could not be due to the statutes of the award, which only awards to living authors. The question is whether perhaps this “impossible death” is applicable to the entire world except Granada, the city and province that remembers that Lorca was born there as often as it forgets it. What happened last week at the García Lorca Board of Trustees following the appointment as director of Antonio Membrilla, who years ago described historical memory as a “hysterical nonsense,” confirms that while Lorca shines in the world, the light that the artist emits in his Granada is low intensity.

The Lorca places in the province are diverse, with hardly any unity of action and with management and ownership dispersed between City Councils, Provincial Council and consortia. In the latter case is what was designated to be the Lorca space par excellence, the Federico García Lorca Center. In its consortium are all levels of the Administration (Central Government, Junta de Andalucía, Provincial Council and Granada City Council). Located in the center of the city, it houses the legacy left by the poet’s family, valued at 23 million euros for insurance purposes. The center is responsible for the custody of the legacy, its dissemination through research and various cultural activities. For this, it has a budget of 832,427 euros, which has not grown in recent years and of which, according to Laura García Lorca de los Ríos, the poet’s niece, only 100,000 are available for cultural events, almost half of what had in 2023.

Although he does not hold any official position, García Lorca—and his contact list—plays an important role in the day-to-day running of the center. A very bitter day to day, he confirms. With hardly any of his own staff, with few part-time workers because they are shared with the City Council and with other projects, García Lorca regrets the lack of interest of some and others in the institution. “It is a center tailored not so much to Federico as to his figure and what he represents.”

The space has a vault for the legacy, a library, an exhibition hall, a theater with a capacity of 410 seats, and a store. With a cost of 28 million euros – 14 of them coming from the EU – “the original project”, continues García Lorca, “made sense because it was tailored to the importance and significance that my uncle has in the world. ”.

The activity is probably somewhat less than what is usually classified as half gas. “It is very difficult to understand how we are in such a precarious situation,” he says. “It cannot be that we have to work asking for favors and with people who, because they love to come to work in Granada for something related to Lorca, lower their salaries.” And he adds: “This center cannot be a problem, we have to consider it fortunate and the place that will multiply the presence of Granada and the most important Spanish artist of the 20th century throughout the world.”

Laura García Lorca, in another image taken on Wednesday in Madrid.Samuel Sanchez

The conflict this week in the management of the Board of Trustees, which manages the birthplace of Fuente Vaqueros and the Lorca Studies Center, which ended with the resignation of Membrilla from the position and the resignation of Laura García Lorca from its governing council, has not gone unnoticed for many interested in the poet, says García Lorca, who claims to have received dozens of calls inquiring about the matter. “They have called me from many countries because Lorca attracts and interests everyone. Many people are surprised by how fragile everything that has to do with him is here,” he points out. And any institutional calls? “Yes, that of the Secretary of State for Culture (Jordi Martí), who agrees with me that it is time to turn the situation around and gain momentum.” The poet’s niece met the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, last Wednesday at the Arco fair, and assures that he showed her his intention to convene the members of the consortium in Granada to analyze the future of the Lorca center. The Government, if it wanted to and as a member of that consortium, has a lot to contribute. For now, its annual contribution is 268,179 euros, a figure well below that contributed by the Board, the Provincial Council and the City Council.

Following Membrilla’s decision not to take office, following the resignation of García Lorca, it remains to be seen whether or not she remains on the board. The president of the Provincial Council, Francisco Rodríguez, who was the one who appointed Membrilla, maintains that Membrilla was the appropriate director and, at the same time, that he wants to continue having her niece on the Board of Trustees. On Thursday he assured that he was trying to talk to her – something the media had achieved without problems – to decide how to proceed. The statutes of the Board of Trustees cite, with name and surname, Laura García Lorca as a member of its management body and, although that does not chain her to him, she can facilitate her permanence. She comments that she is still waiting for conversations.

In addition, the province has several more spaces, which generates a map of Lorca in which, in addition to knowing the poet, you have to know about politics. Numerous sources consulted insist that “you have to know local politics to understand many things that happen.” One of them summarizes the situation like this: “Lorca is a pottage of interests and the majority of those sitting at this Solomonic table have no qualms about cutting the child in half.” The journalist and writer Alejandro V. García, author of Universolorca.com, the best repository of Lorca information available, adds that “bureaucratic terminology, the slowness of the Administration and politics have colonized everything related to Lorca. The administrative and political part takes precedence over consensus when, for example, finding people who truly know the world of culture and Lorca, as we have just seen these days.”

Federico García Lorca, portrayed in 1919, when he was 20 years old.Photo 12 (Universal Images Group via Getty)

La Huerta de San Vicente, the summer estate of the Lorca family and where the poet lived his last days, municipally owned, is in the capital, in a park named after the poet. The house in that garden is called Federico García Lorca House-Museum and is different from the Federico García Lorca Birthplace Museum, in Fuente Vaqueros, where the poet was born and lived and which receives, according to its managers, 2,000 visits a year, which yields an average of six visits a day. With a staff of seven employees and just over half a million euros, it is managed by the Board of Trustees. A look at the websites of both house museums gives a clue to the interest of the institutions in promoting these spaces. It is interesting to remember that the Granada City Council took seven years, from 2015 to 2022, to find the 80,000 euros that the air conditioning cost that could avoid the problems that the intense Granada heat caused in the furniture, the works of art and the piano that Federico played in the Lorca house in the orchard.

Four kilometers from the Fuente Vaqueros house is the Valderrubio House Museum, which served as a home for the Lorca family for a time, and a few meters away is the house of Bernarda Alba, which Federico visited and where he lived the stories that he later told in his famous work. . The management of both is the responsibility of the Valderrubio City Council, although the ownership of Bernarda Alba’s house is the Vega-Sierra Elvira Consortium. The public attention of both houses has a hired person, helped by the Councilor for Culture, who is already retired and does it without pay.

Valderrubio and Fuente Vaqueros make up, together with Víznar, Alfacar and Pinos Puente, what is known as Lorca places. There is no body that brings them together to define joint strategies, but they are all part of the governing council of the García Lorca Board of Trustees. Their meetings, however, are limited to the strict decisions of that institution and are little used to design a coordinated action plan. For Alejandro V. García, “each City Council acts autonomously and has ended up appropriating what is theirs to turn those spaces into a tourist and local attraction, with inconsequential and irrelevant activity.”

There is no stable annual or periodic event for Lorca research or dissemination but, as G adds, there is “an athletics competition called Universo Lorca.” And that’s because Lorca and his spaces are used more as settings for activities of local interest than as spaces for disseminating the poet’s work. This is the case of the presentation last Wednesday at Valderrubio’s house of a proposal that is sure to be interesting for the students and teachers of the hospitality school that proposed it, but whose Lorca veneer is debatable. A press release explained it as “a gastronomic proposal by Lorca” in which “hospitality, restaurant and tour guide students merge elements of the poet’s life and work in an original representation.” Lorca, as García has investigated, is not known to have greater interest in cooking than “the illuminated coffees in the garden, which were coffees with a few drops of brandy, as his sister quotes, and lemonade with mint.”

The birthplace of Federico García Lorca, in Fuente Vaqueros (Granada).Pepe Torres (EFE)

Lorca and Granada is a relationship full of contradictions. The Granada Provincial Council has shown little sensitivity towards that part of historical memory that he represents. And yet, they are the ones who contribute the most to Lorca’s spaces. As announced by its president, Francisco Rodríguez, the purchase of a building in Fuente Vaqueros has increased its contribution by just over half a million euros in 2022 to almost one million for this year, to which they add a contribution of 134,000 euros in the Lorca center.

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