By Chris Onuoha

It was a colourful display of Spanish revered heritage as members of the Spanish Community in Nigeria, led by the Country’s Consul-General, Daniel Losada Millar, alongside the Cultural Adviser to the Embassy of Spain in Nigeria, Eva Barta Martin entertained art and culture enthusiasts to a documentary filmed in Spain. It is called “PANTOQUE”, which explores and promotes the country’s cultural heritage.

The documentary which showed at Alliance Française, Mike Adenuga Center, Ikoyi, Lagos last week was narrated in Spanish with subtitle in English. It is a multidisciplinary creative approach developed by the renowned Spanish plastic artist, Ramón Trigo and photographer and visual director, Eduardo Armada.
According to an official statement from the PANTOQUE site, “the original idea of the documentary is to materialize an artistic research project based at the confluence of two forms of creative narration which share the same reality. That is, to fiddle with visual and plastic languages on a tangible, architectural space and the shipbuilding process at a shipyard.”

The project site is the seaside city called Astilleros Armada in Bouzas, Vigo, Spain, built in the 1920s by three generations of a family permanently linked with the sea and the history of the city. The project begins with creative experimentation on the architectural space and the actions performed by the workers at the shipyard. Through observing the daily activity, the relationship of the ship workers, and with the sea, both languages interrelate to find a commonplace in the project, while the focus is established in the shipyard and the neighborhood, the architectural construction of the sea giant (the ship), the sea, the ecosystem and the human factor within.  

The project which started in September 2016, saw the prolific artist, Ramón Trigo, move his workshop to the Armada Shipyards to achieve this purpose. For twelve months, Trigo lived among the ship workers and made a reinterpretation of the shipyard activity through his creative and artistic experimentations. This was also as Eduardo Armada was documenting the entire process in video and photography.

But the most astonishing and amazing gaze was how one man was able to achieve the whole process alone. The duo became an only man; the artist and his shadow that created two visual forms of narration in which painting suggests, while photography and video document.

“As a painter, my interest is to capture every detail of movements, from the planning stage to the complete building of a ship at the yard. The industrial environment could be discomforting but I am attracted by the ruins of damaged ships to the repairing of old ones,” the artist explains in the documentary.

Trigo employed several media such as charcoal, glue, oil, acrylic and metal scraps to create a scene and mood on canvas. Images captured include ship workers’ costumes and their facial expressions, safety boots, hand gloves, ear muff, protective eye glass, welding machines among others.

Speaking to Vanguard at the film show in Lagos, Trigo said that the entire project lasted one year instead of three months initially estimated: “Eduardo and I started it blind. We didn’t know what would happen and how long it would take initially. We had estimated it to last 3 months because of the budget available to us, but when we started, we became engrossed, inspired by what we saw and automatically changed our mind.”

He explained that the inspiration and stimulation was enormous because of the huge and exciting activities that go on at the shipyard on a daily basis, noting that it could have taken more than one year as each day presents a sensational new excitement.

However, Trigo noted that it could not have been achieved without considering the challenges. “First of all, we executed the project on a low budget. So, it has to be limited to one man show attending to the entire process.

“Secondly, there was a climate factor to it; the weather conditions at that period. Most of the time, I was outdoors, in the extreme cold weather conditions, to capture every bit of the ship building process, alongside the movement of every single machine, equipment and mechanical process involved in the ship construction. It also affords me the opportunity to capture every mood of the workers and other human elements, including their work tools and gadgets, dull and vibrant moments and ecological life around the shipyard. All these were painstakingly captured in my paintings bit-by-bit. This is the most difficult aspect of the project because I have to acquaint myself with the ship workers’ conditions and every situation around the place.

Trigo further explained that the documentary is his first attempt in putting any of his projects into film, adding that the duo’s intention was to go for a long film that will mix animation and film.

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