Events of the arena are spectacles for the public. Bull fights, which continue through present day in Spain, are increasingly controversial for the injury or death of both animal and man, but their defendants emphasise the ceremony involved, declaring it a sacrificial ritual, and a practice of art. In his series TAUROMAQUIA (bullfighting), Spanish photographer Julián Barón (1978) portrays a spectacle in the arena for the benefit of a cheering crowd… though the performance is not of bulls and matadors.
Police squads carry out demonstrations of their strength and skill in bullfighting arenas for youths, with the underlying intention of informing the schoolchildren about their capabilities in maintaining order. A tension between the state and the public builds, as protests become places to exercise power and violence, with the result, Barón explains, that “social control mechanisms are set in motion to legitimise authoritarianism.” In short, the intended reactions for these modern demonstrations of a gladiatorial nature: shock and awe.
Through grainy black and white images, Barón emphasises the artificial construction of these events, their careful articulation and art-based performance.