Description

First Passage

A steeply sloping passageway with 87 steps leads down from the little square at the entrance to the cemetery towards the sea. The passageway makes no concessions to the visitor, and can only be traversed with attention. The narrow metal stairway is flanked by plates of rusted steel 2.35 m high in a corridor dug into the slope like a tunnel. When we have come three quarters of its course, a sheet of glass closes off the way and stops us from going further. The whirlpool in the sea at the end of the tunnel looks close but is inaccessible. And etched into the glass are words that invoke the weight of the past and of memory. It is a more arduous task to honour the memory of anonymous beings than that of famous persons. The construction of history is consecrated to the memory of those who have no name. Karavan chose this quotation from the preliminary work of Benjamin’s On the Concept of History.

Second Passage

Coming back out of the tunnel, a steep and rocky path leads from the little square to the other elements of Karavan’s Memorial. The artist has integrated his work into this natural path, which takes us to the entrance to the back of the cemetery, where non-Catholics are buried. The path brings us to an old olive tree, native to the place, on which fate, the sun and the wind, have left their mark in sinuous forms. Karavan has used the olive tree time and again as a symbol of reconciliation. The narrow platform at the foot of the olive tree is a good place to pause and take in the landscape: the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. And in the distance, the old border crossing.

Third Passage

Narrow and rocky, the path leads to a small clearing with a square platform, four metres by four metres, with a stone cube in the centre that invites us to stop. The little esplanade is open to the sea and horizon, but a metal fence stands between us and the horizon — the old cemetery railings. Our journey ends in the cemetery, at the place where Benjamin’s remains lie in a common grave.