The most interesting works, in my opinion, at the KW institute—and indeed the Biennial as a whole—were videos and I have already posted on two. The next work I would like to treat is by Patricia Esquivias it is entitled Folklore #1, 2006. DVD 15min. This video is intriguing due to its mixture of anthropology, memory and absurdism.
Folklore #1 consists essentially of Esquivias speaking in an off-the-cuff manner to what looks like a mind map written on to a wall (there is what appears to be a wall clock) or white tabletop, across which the artist moves various photographs in order to illustrate the various points that she is making. Her voiceover appears to be completely unrehearsed, it is totally unpolished and yet, somehow, this is a fascinating video.
The crux of its fascination seems to be on the way in which it intersects reflections upon Spanish society and history with a strongly absurdist trajectory. The video begins with two “pyramids” on top of which Esquivias places two “major events” in the post civil-war history of Spain. The first is the “destroy route” which refers to rave culture in post-Franco Valencia, and the other is “bet over eating twenty fried eggs”. I have a video of the video but unfortunately my recording of the voiceover is mostly drowned out by the noise of the gallery environment. Because this is a valuable work of art I have transcribed the voiceover that accompanies this clip below with some key images that appear at various points in Esquivias’ talk.
Folkore #1 Voiceover text (mostly translated from the German subtitles due to the voiceover being unrecordable in the gallery environment). Material in bold in square brackets refers to text shown on the screen at that point.
Imagine two pyramids, on the peaks great events take place and at the feet of the pyramids the basis of these events are revealed. One peak is a social event, a 48 hour dance [rave], the other is a bet concerning eating 20 fried eggs for dinner. Perhaps the base of the pyramids is a generalised basis for events in the history of Spain in the twentieth century.
In Spain over the last hundred years we have first a monarchy, then a republic then there was a civil war and then there was a dictatorship and then a monarchy. The civil war lasted three years, the dictatorship was from 1939 to 1975 [36 years] it was a very long dictatorship when Franco was in power and it collapsed when he died.
So this is the common history of the two events, and now I would like to talk about the man who made a bet on a hot summer’s night that he could eat twenty fried eggs in one dinner, and he did. This was a man that was born in the time of the civil war, he grew up in the postwar period and began his career, his first business was in construction and the first building that he ever built fell down because he didn’t build it correctly, he used bad materials and he killed sixty people
He was sentenced to jail, but because he was a friend of Franco—you know, the dictator—he didn’t have to go. Franco straightened it out. That was the beginning of his career. From this point onward it becomes more exaggerated. After the building he remained in business, in politics and football. He became mayor of a city in southern Spain one of the typical so-called “white towns”
SHIFT TO SECOND PART OF CLIP
That says something about Spain [20,000 illegal constructions], we are old fashioned. We can make complete sentences with swearwords for example [Por mis cojones que os vais todos a la puta mierda (loose translation: by my balls, go to whore’s shit)] but it doesn’t sound the same in English. OK he was in politics and in football and construction.
He was very mean he simply hit anyone he didnt like. He insulted everyone even players and journalists. Finally he made this bet about eating 20 fried eggs and you know that fried means “deep fried” in Spanish, one does not use a splash of fat, but plenty of oil in the pan. Anyhow he ate these eggs then he died when he was 72 years old.
The other event was social—a dance. You probably think think that this happens everywhere, but I think this was something important [1997, 48 hour dance session] this dance suited its location perfectly [Valencia — party] it took place in Valencia and was part of a big movement that lasted ten year that was called “Destroy”. [speed + ecstasy, German electronic music, social movement]. What happened was that Franco died in 1975 and people were happy
OK, some people, not Franco’s supporters. Spain was finally going to be free. So some discos opened in Valencia in 1982 [late house dance sessions] on the east coast. They opened late and played techno. The thing about Valencia is that it is the oldest city in Spain, strange things always happened there like parties I think you can call it folklore.
I don’t know what you know about Paella, you know this rice dish comes from Valencia and maybe it looks easy to make but it is part of something greater it is really complicated. It’s not just something you do in your kitchen, it’s something you do with people and parties. It brings people together.
It’s associated with men and it proves how good a man you are. There are contests to see who makes the best paella, and all this is in the paella: the rice, the kind of flame you cook it on, the oil, the vegetables and the meat. You cannot just throw it together easily, it takes years of practice. This is the most popular dish in Valencia.
Similar to paella are the crafts around Valencia. You can see how detailed excessive and extravagant they are. And also there are these women that people call “falleras”, the queens of Fallas, which is a festival in March. It’s a party where people make enormous papiermache figures as high as buildings [Fire — Falleras — Hair — clothes] and then they burn these Falleras and they cry when the figures are burnt down. And the Falleras have these costumes and elaborate hair styles, I think the hair takes about five hours to do, they braid and put jewellery in their hair … … END OF CLIP