Borja Sánchez Marcote writes about his exhibition, ‘La Colina’, about Suicide Hill, where scores of British Battalion volunteers lost their lives in the Battle of Jarama. The exhibition is at the Patio Herreriano Museum, Valladolid, from 3 September to 18 October.
In February 1937 a British Battalion of more than 450 volunteers of the International Brigades fought outside Madrid against the fascist hordes that besieged the city. Without even shovels nor spades, they had to dig trenches with their bayonets.
In the heat of the battle on 12 February, when they pulled their triggers they realised that the ammunition they had was for the wrong machine-guns. More than 450 volunteers resisted heroically, for six hours, until they received the correct ammunition. In this short period of time the fascist artillery almost annihilated them. Only 125 heroes survived, but they prevented the fall of Madrid. In the remains of those trenches lie the blood shed for those who fought to death for freedom. This place has the name of Suicide Hill.
‘The Hill’ (‘La Colina’) is a research project about that war-torn landscape. Shrapnel fragments scattered throughout the ground and shelters from the battlefront are part of the study.
‘The Hill’ is essentially a photographic project, but there are other pieces, from reproductions of the plans made by the Brigade members to shrapnel fragments collected by the author.
The trauma of the territory is latent in the ground. The shrapnel becomes a symptom of this incurable illness. Contemplating these photos make us think about the sorrow internalised by several generations, just as a stroll around the hillside makes us meditate on the lives taken by armed conflicts.
Museum website (Spanish only):
Posted on 7 September 2020.