Woeful Weapons. Josep Renau and Martha Rosler reacting to war


Pdf Dossier Tristes Armas

February 5, 2015 – July 5, 2015

Curator: Juan Vicente Aliaga

Coordinator: Teresa Millet

“Woeful Weapons”, composed of more than 90 works by the Valencian artist Josep Renau (1907-1982) and the North American Martha Rosler (1943), is a dialogue between two artists which invites to reflect on the phenomenon of war and its current affairs. The exhibit includes pieces from Renau’s Valencian stage (1907-1939), from his exile in Mexico (1939-1958) and from his stage in communist Berlin (1958-1982) which converse with works by Rosler about the Vietnam War (1967-1972) and the military conflicts of Afghanistan and Iraq (2004 and 2008).

The title of this exhibit is based on two words extracted from some moving verses by Miguel Hernández, from his “Cancionero y romancero de ausencias” (1938-1941):

Tristes guerras

si no es amor la empresa.

Tristes, tristes.


Tristes armas

si no son las palabras.

Tristes, tristes.


Tristes hombres

si no mueren de amores.

Tristes, tristes.

This poem, written in the fateful time of a brutal incursion of the military force the fascist coup d’etat lead by Franco in 1936 poses a distressed acknowledgement of the defeat of words, of the failure of feelings and of affection in the face of the cold logic of war.