Discover

Uniform renewal.

In January 2011 the Civil Guard of Spain, commonly known as Guardia Civil or La Benemérita (The Meritorious), renewed its uniform, unchanged since 1986. The military association inherent to their old attire was replaced by a police force aesthetic: polo shirts and cargo pants substituted button-up shirts and pleated trousers. The color of the uniform changed too: a dark shade of green replaced the former mossy color.


The most important modification, however, was the replacement of the tricornio, a three-cornered hat made of black patent leather, in the heritage of the ones worn by Spanish soldiers during the 17th century. The substitution surprised everyone; the tricornio was the quintessential symbol of the Civil Guards. Imagine supplanting the cowboy hat with a baseball cap—no small step for a military institution.


Tidiness and cleanliness were attributes emphasized in La Benemérita’s uniform code since the foundation of the institution back in 1844. The police force was created to repress revolutionary sentiment in the rural areas of Spain and to stop the spread of anti-monarchism during the reign of Queen Isabella II. Those days were not easy for the nation; political conspiracies, coups d’état, and economic recession were constant features. The population suffered continuously and made public its discontent. The founder of the gendarmerie, the aristocrat Don Francisco Javier Girón y Ezpeleta, Duque de Ahumada, believed that it was important to create a police force that the Spanish population would respect on first sight. The value of the aesthetic was given the highest importance and was carefully managed.


The elegance and uniformity of the attire was praised and valued. Blue was chosen as the main color (replaced by green in the reform of 1943) and the tricornio as the element of uniformity (Don Ramón María de Narváez y Campos, Duque de Valencia and prime minister at the time, chose the three-cornered hat used by the Spanish cavalry for the new police force headwear. The Duque de Ahumada didn’t agree with the idea, however; he favored the notion of borrowing the morrión, a steel helmet used by the Tercios, the famous and feared Spanish infantry formation of the XVI century. The Queen Isabella II had the last word; she backed the prime minister’s opinion, and the three-cornered hat was appointed official Guardia Civil headwear.)

The Guardia Civil was a tool for repression and civil order. Their constant excesses and lack of responsibility for their actions made them extremely unpopular. They were feared, and so was their uniform. The poet Federico García Lorca portrayed the brutality of the Guardia Civil in some of his poems. Furthermore, nothing signified repression better than their tricornio, and even to this day there are popular jokes that relate the “magical” power of the hat, that it transfers violence to the wearer. And that’s what we Spaniards have in mind when we see a tricornio. You fear past faults even if you haven’t had any!


An attempted coup d'état in Spain that began on 23 February 1981 by The Guardia Civil.


But those days are gone. Or that’s what we read from this story. You have to change with the times. The Guardia Civil has evolved (it was the first European police force to admit a same-sex couple in a military installation), and so has its uniform.

The tricornio, however, won’t disappear just yet. Its use will be reserved for ceremonies and parades, and the gorra teresiana, the everyday beret and heritage of Luis Roldán, the first civilian to be entitled Directorate-General of the Police and the Civil Guard (and one of the reasons why the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party lost the elections to the conservative People’s Party in 1996 after 14 years in the government … but that’s another hell of a story) will be replaced by a “more comfortable and modern” baseball cap. Think of it: the inherent attributes of authority, power, and law are put aside to bring in airs of casualness and practicality.

Gorra teresiana


Recent Posts

NHU DUONG SS17 WORK COLLECTION FT. KARL HOLMQVIST

What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene | Agustina Zegers

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene is a text made up of living exercises to accompany Haraway’s theorization of the Chthulucene and her upcoming book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Haraway posits that not only should we name the Anthropocene carefully (including the terms Capitalocene and Plantationocene within its narrative) but that we should also be using this crucial ecological timeframe to move towards a dynamically multi-species, “sym-chtonic“, sym-poietic future: the Chthulucene.… [read more »]

Laboria Cuboniks in Conversation

Laboria Cuboniks is currently a group of 6 women working together online to redefine a feminism adequate to the twenty-first century. They collectively wrote Xenofeminsim: A Politics for Alienation in 2014. Here, in conversation with Postcontemporary Issue guest editors Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik they discuss the dissatisfactions and limitations of historical feminism and the importance of theorizing “the future” as a feminist project. Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: The initial formulation of your political… [read more »]

Situating Global Forms: An Anthropology of Cosmopolitan Science

Aihwa Ong, interviewed by Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik Constructing Globality Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: Your anthropological research pays close attention to specific emerging and inventive configurations of globally-constituted modernization, particularly in East Asia and its diaspora. Throughout this work you identity many ways in which ‘things that used to be fused together — identity, entitlement, territoriality, and nationality — are being taken apart and realigned in innovative relationships and spaces by neoliberal technologies… [read more »]

Ways Of Living ⎮ Arcadia Missa

Ways of Living, curated by the team behind Arcadia Missa, moves beyond the home as a site of political contestation and into the working place, the artist studio, the public sphere, and nature. While so-called ‘social practice’ taught us that any attempt of art to engage with issues outside its own institutional reality are easily coopted into the mythologizing machinery of individualism and patriarchy, art still possesses an ability to address issues far beyond the… [read more »]

What is at Stake in the Future? | Alex Williams & Nick Srnicek

Every ‘future’ inscribes a demand upon the present. This is so whether at the level of human imagination, or within the sphere of political or aesthetic action necessary to reach towards their realisation. Futures make explicit the implicit contents of our own times, crystallising trajectories, tendencies, projects, theories and contingencies. Moreover, futures map the absent within the present, the presents which could never come into actuality, the wreckage of dreams past and desires vanquished. Futures… [read more »]

Dog Plays | Hayley Silverman

Hayley Silverman’s “Dog Plays,” an ongoing series in which a cast of untrained dogs take on the role of characters from a range of pop-culture texts, disrupt the canon of identities traditionally represented in Hollywood as they are re-inhabited by animals. Calling on artifacts ranging from Richard Linklater films, to science-fiction thrillers, to Depression-era musicals that rhapsodize class difference, these performances investigate how our understanding of narrative, authority and identity transforms when we project stories,… [read more »]

A poem by Ser Serpas

ripped apart you rip me apart collage million dead collage donde queda mi cuerpo el temporal como dios en mil partes clothing as point of impact a totem is a wrap around a city as it is engagement with one’s surroundings and engagement with that which has been worn out discarded and filtered into alms buckets and newly tagged i wear my surroundings on my feet when it wears out i see only my vantage… [read more »]

DISCREET Call for Participants

DISCREET – An Intelligence Agency for the People The 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art invites you to apply for one of fifteen spaces open to individuals interested in taking an active part in a three-week-long public workshop conceived of by Armen Avanessian and Alexander Martos for the formation and development of a civil secret service organization. Held from June 22 to July 11, 2016, the workshop brings together renegade experts from art, theory, technology,… [read more »]

Parent and Parroting | Nancy Lupo

Each year retail displays are readied in preparation for the gestation and labor of the catch-all holiday season before floating into a colorless postnatal celebration of mundane plenty. Capitalism’s sympathetic pregnancy makes for a cold and lifeless pas de deux, at times humorously inseparable from the vitality of social milestones. In Parent and Parroting, Nancy Lupo continues with a series of interventions into commercial products and industrialized food. Her interferences often reveal or reconfigure the… [read more »]