Using Peter Weiss's novel The Aesthetics of Resistance (1975-1981) as a guide,
we aim to superimpose it to the present time and see how we can take advantage
of it in order to deal with our day-to-day. Respecting the formal characteristics of
the text, we will access the occupied Spanish Credit Bank building, in Catalunya Square
in Barcelona, through the Hotel Colón, home of PSUC in 1937, on the eve of the general
strike of September 29, 2010. The discussions that took place at that night's assembly
will be later confronted and put into question by the main characters of the film: five
anonymous friends who are no longer adolescents nor communist militants and yet also
try to oppose the state of things, as did the protagonists of Weiss's novel –the narrator,
Hans Coppi, Horst Heilmann, Karin Boye or Charlotte Bischoff.

ExtraLife: director's statement

The project ExtraLife comes into being through two paths that converge
during the breakout of a general strike: on one hand, Peter Weiss's novel
The Aesthetics of Resistance, which at that time accompanied me; on the other,
the reoccupation by a group of people of the Spanish Credit Bank building in
Barcelona, which covers half of the northwest side of Catalunya Square, on
the eve of Spain's general work stoppage of September 29, 2010.

Another occupation of that very building, still called Hotel Colón back then,
was executed by the population of Barcelona loyal to the Republic, when they
surrounded the last remnants of the military coup there and regained the city
on July 19, 1936 at four o'clock in the afternoon. Hotel Colón then became the
headquarters of the PSUC (Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia, the Catalan
Communists) during the Spanish Civil War.

Somehow, the various groups and anonymous people assembled in the Moviment
del 25
responsible for 2010's occupation were restating 1936.

In Weiss's novel, the narrator-protagonist, enlisted in the International Brigades,
enters Spain by train through Barcelona on its way to some place in Albacete.
One afternoon of 1937, after being fascinated by the Sagrada Familia, he returns
to Catalunya Square and stops in front of Hotel Colón, "whose portal was flanked
by two banners on which an angry Lenin watched his Secretary-General smile."

That night of 2010, the two statues that flanked the entrance were dressed for
party. On the building's facade, large painted letters read "This is not crisis, it's
called capitalism."

ExtraLife starts inside the Hotel Colón in the early twentieth century. Through
photos and postcards of the time we will visit its Art Nouveau rooms and its
noucentista facade. We will then go out to Catalunya Square with a succession
of images that will take us from 1902 to 1940, when the construction of the Spanish
Credit Bank is launched under fascist rule. An image of Hotel Colón's front in 1937
reminds us of its occupation during the Civil War and guides us to its reoccupation
in 2010.

From the reoccupied Bank, a banner is projected on the facade of El Corte Inglés
department stores, across the street, that reads: "It's Strike Time in El Corte Inglés"
(a pun on their Spring Time campaigns). Those department stores were the Hotel
Victoria back in 1937, where the protagonist of Die Äesthetik Des Widerstands had
his quarters, and where the collection from socialized public services, under the
administration of CNT-FAI, was guarded. The banner projected on the front of the
shopping center brings us to an excerpt from the novel that recounts the character's
route through these spaces.

In keeping with the formal concept of the novel, structured in long blocks without
paragraph breaks, the excerpt traverses the screen in the form of a continuous
text on paper reel, visible thanks to a small window cut out in the screen and a
light box.

We slowly go back from the square and into the building, where an assembly is
about to begin.

The visual side is now barely abstract matter trying to well up from the heart of the
building, preventing the recognition of the faces of those involved. The attention is
shifted to the soundtrack, where discussions take place. In the program: the
organization of pickets for the next day's general strike, the use and purpose of
the occupied space over the coming days, the discussion of proposals aimed at
the reappropriation of everyday life.

Once home, what was said that night at the assembly is confronted with the daily
lives of the characters featuring in the film: five anonymous friends, as in Peter Weiss's
novel are the narrator, Hans Coppi, Horst Heilmann, Karin Boye and Charlotte Bischoff,
only this time they are not teenagers nor Communist activists, but also try to
oppose the current state of things.

Barcelona, September 2012


Ramiro Ledo Cordeiro

translation: Xurxo Ínsua