2005. Fernando Baena. FAMILIAS ENCONTRADAS (published text: book)



By chance, I found a cardboard box labelled “1ST JANUARY TO 17TH MARCH 1971” containing around 100 black and white negatives supposedly taken by some commercial photographer.  Among the images, some were of families in the typical pose required for the official large-family card.



Underneath the usual advertising banners placed on the façade of Círculo de Bellas Artes five other banners are installed, each exhibiting the image of one of those unknown families.  Underneath each of those photographs a luminous display shows texts referring to the year 1971, particularly the period 1st January to 17th March: 

  • Anniversaries.
  •  The family.
  •  Art in Spain in 1971.
  •  Círculo de Bellas Artes.
  •  Updated daily news.


Commemorative and documentary image

The emergence of photography dealt a death blow to the paintings of history. The commemorative and documentary role of these paintings was replaced with the faster and more reliable photographic report. History disappears as the subject of works of modern art - possibly El Guernica was the last. The portrait is another area which photography and new image-recording media practically stole from the “fine arts” and if it occasionally continues to be considered art, it is within these modern disciplines.

The subject of the family has been present throughout the history of western art. We only have to refer to the busts of Roman ancestors, the Sagradas Familias, the royal families painted by Velázquez or Goya, the bourgeois families portrayed by the Dutch, the aristocratic ones by Reynolds and the modern ones by Hockney. Although the images of Familias encontradas can be easily framed in this subject, the texts that appear in the five electronic signs that accompany them refer us to the society of the moment those photos were taken. The concept of the family is extended to encompass Spanish people and the rest of humanity. Obviously, what was happening in the world affected the protagonists of the photographs and all of us already here.

But in this case, the aim is not just to document or commemorate, or make an exhaustive sociological analysis of the situation of the family or Spanish art in the last years of Franco’s dictatorship, nor to nostalgically emphasise those decisive years of our own personal history. The aim is to place a common anchorage point in the collective memories – its election was accidental- from which to stretch our memory to the present. We will realise, if we have the patience to read the different texts, that in thirty-four years we have changed a lot and we haven’t changed at all. Seen from a distance, the red lines of the electronic signs move without advancing.


Fragments of the texts that are projected in the luminous signs.

ANNIVERSARIES [1st of January – 17th of March 1971]

  • 9th January– The American Junior Chamber of Commerce presents Elvis
    as one of the ten most extraordinary young North Americans.
  • 10th January– The French designer Gabrielle "Cocó" Chanel dies.
  • 11th January– The Assuan Dam in Egypt is inaugurated.
  • 12th January– The DIA informs that Guatemalan forces have “silently eliminated” hundreds of “terrorists and bandits” in the country side.
  • 13th January– 70 Brazilian guerrillas board a plane in Río de Janeiro bound for Allende’s Chile.
  • 14th JanuaryVente a Alemania, Pepe is premiered and seen by 2,078,570 spectators.
  • 15th January– Public execution of Ernest Ouandié, leader of the UPC (Cameroon).
  • 16th January– The Spanish tennis player, Sergi Bruguera, is born.
  • 17th January– The vision of ETA VI Asamblea prevails, when a commando group kidnaps a well-known industrialist in the Basque Country whose factory was on strike.


  • Alexandre Cirici i Pellicer takes part in establishing the Asamblea de Catalunya, and is jailed for one week.
  • Rafael Canogar wins the Grand Prix in the Biennial of Sao Paulo.
  • The Rodríguez Acosta Foundation announces the XII Exhibition-Contest on the subject of “Women”. The prizes range from 100,000 to 25.000 pesetas.
  • The first symptoms appear of the illness that would end the life of Juan Eduardo Cirlot. Later that year he would undergo a pancreas cancer operation.
  • The art collection of the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno is divided up. The 19th century paintings went to the Museo del Prado. The 20th century paintings went to the newly opened Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, in a building designed by the architect, Jaime López de Asiaín, located in Ciudad Universitaria.
  • Last edition of the Salón Femenino de Arte Actual.
  •  The project for the Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre de Madrid is approved. The close relationship between Eusebio Sempere and the authors of the works or their families means that all the works are donated to the museum.


  • The first baby born in Madrid in 1971 was a girl. She weighed four kilos and was born to Amparo Paloma Ortiz and Francisco Barrado Mateo.
  •  When marrying a foreigner, Spanish women automatically lost the Spanish nationality and were considered foreigners. They were given a residence card, their academic qualifications were not longer valid, they could not join the civil service and needed a work permit to be employed in any other job.
  •  The Council of Ministers approves a Decree on 8th of January to introduce improvements to family protection by raising the monthly family benefits by 25%: a man receives 375 pesetas for having a wife; 250 pesetas for each child; 6,000 pesetas for getting married; and 3,000 pesetas for each newborn child.
  •  After 15 years of marriage, Manuel dies on the 5th January 1971 due to the burns inflicted by his wife when she threw a pan of boiling hot water, to which she had added a corrosive substance, over him whilst he was asleep.
  •  The absolute values of Spanish families are the indissolubility of marriage, the procreation of the highest possible number of children, the predominant role of the father as head of the family and the subordinate role of women of biological reproduction and household chores.


  • Extraordinary act in the Teatro de Bellas Artes to present the gold medals and the Silver Minerva, which are awarded since 1965. In total, thirty eight medals were awarded. The act includes the premiered monologue by the President of Círculo de Bellas Artes, Joaquín Calvo Sotelo, with the title Pis.
  •  The 1971 Francisco Alcántara award was handed to the sculptor Luis Montoya for his work Cabeza.
  •  The Best Poster of the Year Award, with a prize of 100,000 pesetas, was not awarded to anyone.
  •  The Gold Medal of Círculo de Bellas Artes was awarded to the billiard player, Avelino Rodríguez Rico.
  •  In March 1971 an exhibition was held on La marioneta, together with children and adults’ sessions performed by the group Peralta and Alcaráz.
  •  June 1971 Círculo de Bellas Artes organises a Corrida Goyesca fully dedicated to bullfighting on horseback.
  • From 12/04/1971 to 14/04/1971 Círculo de Bellas Artes holds the Spanish Three-cushion Interclub Billiard Championship.