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Los artistas Santiago Serra y Eugenio Merino quemando la escultura hiperrealista de Felipe VI. Photo: YouTube.
The artists Santiago Serra and Eugenio Merino burning the hyperrealist sculpture of Felipe VI. Photo: YouTube.

King of Spain set on fire on Columbus Day

They were not people out-of-control, but artists performing the end of a political performance in the darkest hours of the Spanish monarchy. 

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Every March in Valencia — located in the east of Spain — "Fallas" is celebrated. It's a traditional festival that consists, among many other things, of fireworks and the burning of giant dolls about five meters tall, called "ninots."

These "ninots" usually feature funny depictions of political personalities and situations that occurred in the year. The fire burns them so that new — and better — things are born. 

Last year, 2019, during the art fair Arco in Madrid, two artists put staged a sale of a 'ninot' of King Philip VI of Spain that was 4.5 meters high and had a value of 200,000 euros. 

The artists, Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Merino, imposed a condition on the future buyer, who had to burn the doll before one year. 

As they were unable to sell the figure of the monarch, both decided to burn it themselves during Columbus Day to "complete the artistic project," which has been seen as a provocation by some people, especially as the popularity of the monarchy has fallen quite a bit. This comes after the scandals involving the King Emeritus, Juan Carlos I, who left the country a few months ago. 

In fact, one of the parties that make up the government, Unidas Podemos, has recently requested that the Spanish citizenry be asked to evaluate the degree of acceptance of King Felipe VI, although their proposal was rejected by President Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) to avoid further political tension and controversy.


While it is true that Spain's pot has long been boiling and COVID-19 has only further ignited the tension, art has always been a combative terrain on which to express political disagreements. Moreover, taking advantage of this debate with an end not in sight, it keeps the heat on.

One of the artists of the 'ninot' of Don Felipe, Santiago Sierra, has also published the video of his performance celebrated yesterday, Oct. 12, on social media. He also announced that they will sell the photographs taken during the action, the skull that was in the interior of the doll, and its ashes. 

Sierra and Merino are two conceptual artists of political art and international impact and, as they declared, they aspire for the work to become "a historical document of their time, expressing the dreams and desires of a large part of the population to get rid of an outdated institution." 

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