To the backdrop of the political transition taking place in Spain in the 1980s, the multidisciplinary work of the collective of anonymous artists from Málaga, the Agustín Parejo School (APS), materialised. Their works were, on the margins of the State, among the best examples of the aesthetic and life positions of an entire youth culture, using irony to tackle thorny issues in Spain’s fledgling democracy.
APS signed off an ensemble of critical works with a visual representation clearly influenced by structuralist thought, linguistics and new theories of language and communication. Word and sign would become a point of experimentation, with the gaze constantly aligned towards poetry, politics, irony and popular imagery. Their references to Duchamp, Beuys, agit prop and post-punk built a whole dissident language, with the best place for its development the public metropolitan space, where these actions could catch the eye of a society awakening to freedoms and in which new social problems arose, such as unemployment and a lack of housing.
Du côté de l’URSS (On the Side of the USSR) was an exhibition held in the Málaga School of Architects in 1985, its title a nod to one of the novels from Marcel Proust’s monumental In Search of Lost Time, Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way). The collective provocatively chose to revive the ghosts of communist iconography at a still-turbulent time in Spain. With a large dose of humour, they created a fiction in which a set of creators, supposedly Russian, unite the Soviet avant-garde aesthetic with the idiosyncrasy of the Andalusian city. Under a false Soviet identity, they set up different street actions, producing different collages and publishing postcards, flyers and stickers. Among these actions, APS also painted their name, using Cyrillic characters and a stencil of Lenin’s face, on a fence where the deterioration of Málaga’s old town was evident. The work was completed with photos of members of the group in mid-performance, kitted out with helmets and posing with or running ahead of the graffiti, supposedly in the direction of the port to welcome a boat of Russian comrades.
In terms of the collages presented in the exhibition, of note is the piece titled CAPdNHA (Sardine, 1985): two sardines that begin a relationship of resemblance between Malaga’s traditional skewered sardines and the Soviet sputnik satellites.
Finally, in the context of the show, the letter UHP (a Spanish acronym for “Unite, Brothers, Proletariats”) appears, a false Soviet band whose performance mixes post-punk and industrial electronic music. Beyond the noise of the rhythms and execution, the letters UHP mingle poetry with politics in pieces such as 1º de mayo (1st of May, 1984), La Internacional (International, 1984) and Moscú 1919 (Moscow 1919, 1984).