blue sheet: “preaching in Madrid” by Paco Nogales

This text is an evaluation-text by Paco Nogales, who was performing the re-enactment of fundamentalist-right-wing preachers in the project “HELL IS COMING / WORLD ENDS TODAY”.

Preaching in Madrid „Phelps-style“

So far my performance work was restricted to actions conceived and executed by me, but, strikingly enough, in the last twelve months I have performed ideas created by other people in works/ projects that hardly have anything to do with my personal work.

The action Andreas proposed me, which should be executed five hours a day during eight consecutive days, stroke me as a very simple action, due to the apparently scarce physical involvement it required from me, and by the inexistent interaction I should have with the people surrounding me during my performance in the street.

I was wrong: this action has required a hard physical effort in order to successfully manage a physical attitude of arrogant solemnity and despotic and unavoidable presence suggesting that the people targeted by my message “Hell is coming/World ends today” was of no importance at all. This attitude was physically conveyed both by a slow walking, which fully contrasted with the hustle and bustle of the town, and by a constant stare to the sky ignoring the environment surrounding me as well as the people populating it. That very same environment I was judging with my attitude. The environment and the people I hated.

I was unaware of the existence of preacher Phelps before I finished my perfomance. Afterwards, his image only was enough to give me a lot of information. As much information as I had previously offered with my image while I was performing as a preacher. A lot of spectators complained that the banners (signs) were written in English, thus unintelligible for them. “We are in Spain, so write in Spanish, you fool!” they shouted very often to me. But the word “fool” they used was an unequivocal sign that, at a certain level, they were understanding the performance. At the beginning, I thought, that this „preacher-model“ Phelps was inexistent in Spain. It was familiar to me only through American films. As time went by, I realized it is a very common model also in Spain, very rooted in the extreme right-wing movement predicting an upcoming chaos and complete national microfragmentation, total disparition of moral values, menacing invasions, and the end of the family institution, briefly, the chaos, the Hell and the End of the World. Because a world different from the one they conceive is not a WORLD.
Other people considered me as a fool and tried to obtain from me an answer proper of a fool, an explanation of my “lunatic theory”, thus having the opportunity to laugh at me. However, since I did nothing else but staring in the sky and holding my banners (signs) with their horrifying message, they insulted me. Insults that I interpreted as the product of fear or fright they felt, as a result of my attitude judging everything surrounding me, including them.
Other people wanted to know more. They SINCERELY wanted to know more about what I was saying. I came to realise, that there is a potential amount of people open to irrational proposals in the hope of finding somebody providing them with solid convictions related to the true meaning of justice. They reject the world and I doubt they have any other relation to the world but the one consisting in denying it systematically and, perhaps, denying themselves as people.

My presence as a preacher has been a disturbing presence, questioning and altering other labels.
I fused with people protesting against the use of animal fur in leather-shops of Gran Vía in such a way that, as I showed up in front of them, they put down their banners and let the whole space free for me.

For people seeing me at a Partido Popular (right wing) meeting maybe I was considered the true face of such a political party. I was an uncomfortable presence for the militants of a party trying to connect with the people wandering closeby, perhaps because the hidden lies of its adoctrination were uncovered by me.

In the bookselling and propaganda-area of the extreme left wing in El Rastro (a well known street flea market of Madrid) my presence was uncomfortable, and some people commented: „I am going to slap that stupid crazy”. Fortunately, another seller disuaded him from his purpose: “Let him stay! He is not being agressive”. There were a lot of mistrustful regards there. I perfectly worked as a symbol and a threat.

My body and banners (signs) have been symbolic amplifiers of the city spaces. In the Montera street, a downtown street with lot of prostitution, where passer-bys secretely look out of the corners at the prostitutes, my presence emphasized (always judging) the activity that was taking place there. Some prostitutes danced in front of me, laughing and singing together “Hell is coming…hahaha!!!” “World ends today? What time?” Others told me “Do we fuck?” with an extremely loud voice; this question, which they commonly use to introduce themselves to the potential client, is always pronounced in a very discreet way. Now they were adjusting the volume of their message to my own loud volume.
In front of the door of a sex-shop my presence actually evidenced that the place was A SEX SHOP, thus making it impossible what was regularly the case, that is, leaving it unnoticed while walking by.

In February 11th the rehearsal of the military parade was taking place which, the day after and in front of the Royal Palace, would commemorate the bicentennary of the independence war fought by the Spanish population against the French occupation. I did not know the existence of this parade and, unexpectedly, I found myself located in front of the Royal Palace facade with a bunch of soldiers marching towards me, eventually stopping, turning into me and, suddenly, raising and holding up their rifles. I made a cross with my banners and stared in the sky while keeping in front of them. Tourists witnessing the scene were taking pictures and laughing at it all…After a while , the soldiers were ordered to fall out, so they could chat with each other :
– the world is ending?? Before that, please buy yourself a shaving machine!!
– Will he sacrifice himself with bombs now?
– At what time (will the world end)?
They couldn‘t stop taking pictures of me with their cellphones.

My performance has been physically exhausting. Being a preacher is very hard. The amount of energy consumed is considerable, but also proportional to the attention obtained. Many people were kept fascinated by my image and, although I did not move a single muscle, they remained there, for a long while, looking at me, reading the banners (signs), asking each other whether they understood the meaning of the message, And then, laughs, insults …and contemplation.
This process has repeatedly taken place: laugh, insult, contemplation. A whole mental process underlies the event with the aim of accommodating my image and message to their reality, thus opening a horrifying abyss in front of their minds.
Some curious specimens I have noticed are those who hide themselves behind their cameras: while they walk they shot with their cameras at anything surrounding them without stopping for a second. They are like hamsters: they collect and collect images in the memory of their cameras without even trying to see them. All this in order to see where they have been and seen once the holidays are over or they are at home again. I have been consumed as an image by a large amount of people like this.

Why I felt comfortable while doing this performance? This is a question I have been posing myself while performing on the street. The figure and the message of the preacher have connected with that dark and negative side we all share at a certain measure. A childish side that makes us feel in this world as outsiders lacking any ability to participate; a side that can make us think: “All this is shit! If I could I would fix all this very easily and me and the others would be happy. But, of course, people are stupid and will never do what I know is necessary to be done in order to attain this aim”. This side of me can easily tell somebody how to act and think, and what is the best for her/him. The side of me that does not know what to do with my life and would like to have an already prescribed way, which would eliminate the fear to the uncertain future that I DO NOT CONSTRUCT.
The preacher connects with my fear and I feel comfortable because he erradicates it once I feel as participant in the designs of a god modelled by me as the mere result of a phantasy created by myself, by my fear and rage motivated by not being able to interact with the world.

The preacher is absent from this world when he stares in the sky, as I am absent from the world when I enter the abyss of negativity. In those moments, the best thing is that everything ends, instead of having to stay dealing with the responsibility of living in a world which IS ALREADY A HELL.

I know some people I have identified as sorts of preachers. An up-to-date version of the Preacher (although, for sure, there will be infinitely many more) can be found amongst the militans of New Age pseudo-buddhist movements, which justify the catastrophes, social injustices and death of innocent people….through an account based on karma. Coming to this world is a process of learning preparing us for the definitive liberation. Children assassinated or killed by sicknesses have just a short period of time to learn everything necessary to arrive to liberation; whoever suffers a disgrace of any type is just learning something that he was missing or rejecting in previous lifes; whoever suffers an illness making him dependent is simply traversing a knowledge-process implying the acceptance of being cared by others, learning about arrogance…

To conclude, I am sure that preacher Phelps would like to know that a gay man, as I am, has been preaching in Madrid adopting his style, and that I have been doing this with a cock-ring around my dick and balls like a cilice, in major honour to rage of god.

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