El Cíclope Mecánico

El Cíclope Mecánico is a Spanish collective that organizes and develops projects and activities related to photography and image.

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

I like the name El Cíclope Mecánico very much because these words join the modern notion of “mechanics” with the notion of pre-historic wisdom; with the (homeric) point of view of the (in)famous one-eyed monster.

In 2012, El Cíclope Mecánico succeeded in obtaining the prestigious FotoPress grant from the Spanish La Caixa Foundation. The collective had proposed a project that -through the photographer’s lens- wanted to re-discover the common history of the peoples of Spain and Morocco. The collective aimed at dismantling “part of our past and present – that recent past in which the Moor shows up as a stranger, or even as an ennemy, disfigured by the harshness of a kind of history that reflects gross manipulation and is somewhat fraudulent. Such a history tells of invasions that were not really so, of brutal wars that were promoted by the interests of a few and of rejections of otherness when, as a matter of fact, there are not such great differences between the people on both sides of the wide river that is the Strait of Gibraltar.”

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

To realize the re-discovery of the common history of both Spaniards and Moroccans, El Cíclope Mecánico proposed to focus  on a “crack” in the visual world where history, when it is distorted by e.g. harmful northern paternalism, continues to show its true face. And according to the project this “crack” is to be found in El Jebha (El Frente in Spanish), a small coastal town in the foothill of the Rif mountains,  where coexistence and mutual understanding would always have been the norm. El Cíclope Mecánico proposed to focus on the inner-history of El Frente’s inhabitants (the current ones and the ones in the past), on  “the anti-heroes that write history in an unconscious way, not meaning to become protagonists“. In the view of the collective, these voices can help us understand better than the description of treatises and the presentation of general theses that, beyond religious and national differences, Spaniards and Moroccans are all part of a common history.

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

The result of the project is a brandnew photobook, published by Ediciones Anómalas. The book contains contemporary photographs of El Jebha and its inhabitants. Remarkably, these images are not accredited to individual photographers but to the one-eyed monster whose name I like. Furthermore, the book contains historical pictures supplied by former inhabitants (now living in Spain) through a special blog, especially created to retrieve their egodocuments before it is too late. Apart from both types of photographs, that are cunningly juxtaposed to each other, we also see some written testimonies of the historical Spanish presence in Morocco.

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

El Frente is a remarkable book because it draws you simultaneously to the present and past versions of this charming town. By doing so it cuts you of from your own everyday reality. You are enjoying the sea with its salty and windy air and you are also dealing with important, contemporary questions in a challenging way.

 

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

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© El Cíclope Mecánico

Thank you very much, El Cíclope Mecánico .