Miro’s Pedagogy of Developing a Sensitivity of Alertness towards Fascism

In 1933 in Spain a right-wing coalition government was formed. Miro wrote, “We are living through a terrible drama, everything in Spain is terrifying in a way you could not imagine”. He undertook a series of violent sexually charged “savage paintings” dated October 1934 and singly entitled “Man”, “Woman” or “Person”. It reflected the beginning of the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent fascist dictatorship.

Joan Miró, Woman, 1934
Joan Miró, Woman, 1934

How is it possible not even to represent but to imagine woman being so monstrous? Isn’t the image of woman first of all associated with love and tenderness, with loveliness and attractiveness? But the violent stabilization of fascist dictatorship in Spain changed all of this for Miro. Popularity of fascism in Spain and in many other European countries in the thirties was and is shocking. The point was not only the wealthy who had financed the Franco’s movement and weapons for his troops, but the passionate participation of the many Spanish poor in repressive policies of Franco’s government. The socio-political reasons for this is rather simple – the poor are tired of being at the bottom – by starting to serve the fascist commanders: to humiliate, abuse and kill people they get the feeling of triumphing over destiny. From nobodies they became a power. But weren’t fascists in history, mainly, men? Why to bring women into this, why target women – why is Miro so intolerant to Spanish women? Can it be that he is unconsciously trying to scapegoat women, to put on women responsibility for fascism?

The woman in painting above is screaming, and she is also laughing – her laughter is like shouting. It is laughter of the witches. She is mocking those whom she hates. Through her laughter she enjoys triumph over those she is laughing at. She is very intense and noisy. Her laughter is hellish but of the size of the whole world. My god, she looks happy: she is cheerful. But whom is she mocking? – The victims of fascism?

Being herself the incompatible unity between mocking and happiness, insulting and being cheerful, she hates and she loves simultaneously. She is a woman, she loves her children, but her very love, somehow, taught them how to hate. Her love grows hate in her off-springs, nurtures hate in their souls. Her love is a vehicle of hate. Her motherly task must be not easy – it’s much more psychologically difficult than the position of fascist fathers who teach their children to murder and who train them from childhood how to kill. And it is the mothers of fascists who teach children how not to forget love (for one another, for the very similarity between them) when they hate those who are not like them and are outside of their comradeship. Fascist love for themselves is another side of fascist hate for dissimilar others. With love for their unity/identity fascists can hate more intensely. Love as the other side of hate is like a combination of smile and grimace of hate in Miro’s woman, a unity of hating and happiness. It is like an embrace of cheerfulness and murder. The very ability to be happy haters which characterizes the fascists is a result of the emotional blend of love and hate which fascist mothers’ ambiguous love taught them. This monstrous combination is an essence of the pedagogy of the mothers of fascists.

Even twenty, even ten years ago I couldn’t understand Miro’s magnificent paintings of horrifying women he did in the mid-1930s. It was difficult to find in my own experience anything I could compare them with. But in the 21st century I saw in TV-news number of right-wing women’s screaming/mocking at their political enemies, and their happy predatoriness became for me the ultimate associations with Miro’s mutated/mutilated females.

The bodies of Miro’s women are painted with earthly and heavenly colors. On the one hand, we see green, orange, soiled-red, yellow and brownish-black, but on the other – whitish blue. It is, as if, Miro warns us not to make the traditional mistake of the macho-mind in identifying women with earth, nature, physiology, matter – all the opposites of “masculine psyche’s attributes – spirit, mind, metaphysical dedications”, etc. But women-fascists are idealistic in a de-existential – generally very traditional way. Catholic Church in Spain was among the most loyal socio-political structures supporting Franco. Mothers of fascists were against equality and prosperity for all, and they in the name of God and Christ were against humanistic development in their country.

The square-like form we see under the fascist woman’s gigantic mouth is her laryngeal protrusion bigger than in men‘s because of her emotional passion in shouting hate (in men hate is more instrumental). Her hands – women’s maternal hands for keeping/holding babies, here exist for political gesticulation – for expressing dogmatism and contempt. The black opening in the bottom of her body is her vaginal tract united by Miro with her anal orifice. And the big soiled-dark-red cave in the middle of her body is, it seems her tireless voluminous womb. Her right eye is that for seeing the earthly objects of interests, and the left is for heavenly ones.

This rendezvous (arranged by Miro) with a mother of a fascists makes us shaken but clarify the historical perspectives.

 Joan Miró Woman, 1934
Joan Miró Woman, 1934

Is Miro’s second woman praying for global victory of fascism? She is a rodent but an artificial one, like a robber toy. – Toy for whom? – For fascist ideologists dreaming about conquering the world while believing in their country’s exceptionalism? She is a toy but the one who can produce fascist children. That’s why her vagina is horizontal: making her capable of simultaneously serving/using several males – to produce as many fascists as possible – to provide as many soldiers for the fascist armies if “we want” to dominate the world to see ourselves served and worshipped by slaves of the planet.

      Joan Miró, “Head Of A Woman”, 1938
Joan Miró, “Head Of A Woman”, 1938

In 1938 Fascism in Spain won. Celebration is everywhere. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco – are the pelvis bones of the fascist Europe. The mothers of fascists are jubilantly dancing. Too many people are killed, arrested and prisoned, too many – intimidated and muted. But the mothers of fascists are satisfied. Here is one of them. Her mouth predatorily, but generously smiles. Her arms participate in the dance – the fingers of her left hand are like a chirping bird, the right hand plays with the darkened sun like with decorative handkerchief. Her jaw, after feasting on the civil war has swelled; her breasts are full of juice for the future generations of fascists. Her hairs are dancing and playing with the air. The dense sky is her resonating background. She is playing with the sun as fascist Eve with the seducing apple.

Is fascist celebration still a human celebration? Judged by regular human gaze it may seem so. But Miro lends us a special – artistic: truthful eyes. And what we see with these eyes is different. Yes, fascist celebrations are human, but they are also inhuman, and this inhumanity is much more difficult to notice than the pure, one-sided, “biological” humanity. But why is it necessary to borrow extra-eyes from artists like Miro whose truths are as tormenting?

Woman (Opera Singer), 1934
Woman (Opera Singer), 1934

In his “Opera Singer” painting Miro points out that even when fascist periods of history incarnate into life in front of our eyes, our art and habitual forms of understanding of the reality are, as if, incapable of noticing what’s really happening. We continue to live until man-made disasters swallow us like a whale – plankton. We try to adapt to wars, murders and total violence as much as possible. We allow incompetent or/and evil people to rule over us because we are intellectually lazy and corrupted by obvious seductions like petti vanities and consumerism. We don’t know how to take the historical process into our own hands. We are passive and easily suggestible – we are at the mercy of the wealthy demagogues seducing us into obedience through stupid electronic trinkets.

Look at Miro’s “opera singer” with the program notes in her hand and the mouth twisted by the beautiful lie of her vocalisms. Miro teaches us the anti-fascist sensitivity towards fascism and by this helps us to develop the ability to recognize and be alerted by fascism even when it comes enveloped in “neutral” terms.