It is unsolvable: even if a war is just, someone makes a living selling missiles.
There are things already assumed that a forceful pencil, ink and gouache drawing on paper knocks you out more than confirms them.
Like this work by Antoni Vila Arrufat that an unexpected circle has just placed in my hands. Accustomed since he was a child to seeing the amiable noucentisme of the painter from Sabadell on the walls of his house, this line from the thirties is like a punch: the manufacturer of weapons making wars to continue making weapons.
The title of this enigmatic work, written in Catalan on the back of the paper, summarizes half of the world's history in twelve letters: Tantensfot, SA. (We don't give a damn, SA).
It is indifference. At the entrance to the first arms fair that I covered –the largest in the world, in Paris–, businessmen passed indifferently by the four Quaker pacifists who demonstrated with a banner that silhouetted a bomb falling on a mother and son of she. “Without armies there are no wars. War is a business”, said Yvonne Kressman.
Inside the immense fair, the Remington booth was littered with rifles with a very yo me me motto: “This is my rifle. There are no others like it, and this one is mine."
Don't they have guns? -I asked for.
“We stopped making them years ago, but there are plans to make them again,” replied Ryan, an employee, who started debating with another about whether they stopped making them after World War I or World War II.
"The first two bullets of World War I, in Sarajevo, came out of a Belgian pistol designed by an engineer who worked at Remington," I told them to provoke them.
–Really?, yeah! ... –Ryan replied, flexing his arms euphorically.
The Second World War emerged from the First World War, and from the pacifist mantra I turned to doubt... what if Remington's weapons contributed to the fall of Hitler?
I restlessly went to the press room to check the internet... Well yes, Remington M1903A3 rifles were widely used against the Nazis in the camps of Europe. Are all weapons bad?
I went to Yvonne Quaker to see if she had the answer. Her grandfather died in a useless World War like the First. But her father died in a useful World War like the Second. Yvonne was still there, clinging to utopia. I went up to her to ask how she would have defeated Hitler without weapons, physically tripped over her banner – “If weapons are the answer, we need a new question” – and, bewildered, gave up asking anything.
Over the years, Quakers were prohibited from demonstrating at the fair entrance. And in the 2018 edition, access to the Franco-Catalan photographer Marc Javierre-Kohan was prohibited, despite the fact that he was previously accredited. The reason? To have photographed that same morning a Quaker demonstration against this fair in the embassy district of Paris.
“Yes, it's him,” one bouncer confirmed to another when they saw Marc. “You're not one of us. We have to protect our fair”, they told him before rejecting him.
Marc remembers how he was kicked out of the arms fair, in the south of Paris, while today he shows me seven photographs of weapons taken in the north of Paris. Seven images that his grandfather made the day they liberated Enghien-les-Bains, his town, on August 27, 1944.
Marc is now making a fascinating anatomy of those photographs, especially that of an American Sherman tank from the Second Armored Division –the mythical Leclerc– with its license plate and occupants.
Did someone get rich by making that and all the tanks that liberated Europe from Hitler? If tanks are the answer, do we need a new question? Can we get out of the loop?
At the start of the First World War, Gaziel reported for La Vanguardia on the large French arms factories. He was “astonished” to contemplate the “immense amount of regulated energy that needs to be deployed to maintain discord in the world. What use will it be for man to dominate all of nature if he does not know how to dominate himself?
Three years of war remained, and in those forges Gaziel warned that "tremendous and delusional hours of the Apocalypse await Europe."
One day, in the trenches of the Oise, Gaziel found a strange graveyard with the remains of uniforms mixed in the dirt, "faded, wrinkled and broken like heroic scouring pads, fleeting appearances and emblems of the shifting ghosts that rule the world."
It was a field where, due to urgency, German and French soldiers were buried together. “All those uniforms that differentiated them from the body were scattered over the graves like traces of a passing dream,” he wrote. And the common ash, which should unite them in the eyes of the soul, lies mixed in their essential equality, so blended and fused that it would no longer be possible to guess, if we unearthed these graves, which were the winners and which were the losers.
Another resounding sales success from Nosimportaunrábano, SA.