My Kingdom by Catalan photographer Txema Salvans offers a sharp-witted insight into contemporary Spanish society, and a wry comment on the climate of power in the artist’s home country. Salvans splices together blackand-white photographs of ordinary citizens enjoying the Mediterranean coast, with citations from the political rhetoric of former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I (1975–2015). Drenched in authority and affect, his speech conveys a King playing the role of a good-natured sovereign, the tender ruler of a democratic monarchy.
In Salvans’ subversive combination of image and text, the language acts like a socio-political filter, through which the gestures and emotions of the beach-goers are seen – the hopes, the indolence, and the aggression of people parading their own small sovereignties: the freedom to nap, eat, sunbathe, play, love and suffer, and display their human uniqueness. Power, as something embodied and enacted, permeates the king’s speech and the interactions of ordinary Spaniards, on the beaches and residential development of ‘real’ Spain.
Accompanying My Kingdom is a booklet containing extracts of fervent speeches by political figures including Thatcher, Mussolini, Churchill and Chaplin the Dictator, all proclaiming the authoritarian power of the state over people.