This project explored the history and symbolism of the Olympic Games by using a narrative parallel to the rituals that this global phenomenon has unfolded since the first third of the 20th century.
Thus, I replicated the pre inaugural Olympic ritual, adding minor changes to it in an attempt to critically highlight the foundations of a tradition which is actually more recent than what it is believed to be.
It was in 1936 that the current convention was introduced, marking the first step towards the infamous Berlin Summer Games organized by Nazi Germany, a key event in Hitler regime's efforts to propagate and legitimize its ideology of racial supremacy.
Since then, a ceremony is held in the ruins of Olympia every 4 years: A fire is lit by means of a system of mirrors in the site where the Temple of Hera once stood.
This flame is then transported, in the form of a torch carried successively by many athletes, to the Olympic venue. The arrival of this fire marks the beginning of the games and is the climax of the opening ceremony.
In September 2009 I travelled to the ruins of the Temple of Hera, where I started my own fire by focusing the rays of the sun in a single point.
Instead of a torch I lit a cigarette, the first in a long chain that I uninterruptedly smoked, lighting each new cigar with the remains of the previous one.
Crossing seven countries, traveling by car the 3,900 kilometres that separate Olympia from Madrid, I smoked hundreds of cigarettes during the 6-day journey.
Once I reached the exhibition space, I used the last of these cigars to ignite a new flame that, contained in a cast iron cauldron, was shown as the main element of the project's public presentation.The exhibition opened on October 1, 2009, one day before the International Olympic Committee made public the chosen host for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Madrid was one of the candidates but lost to Rio de Janeiro.