Les Falles, the art of the ephemeral

 In Falles, Intervencions urbanes

public art space, urban evolution, tradition, satire and participation : Fallas, the art of the ephemeral.

PichiAvo graffiti street art intramurs 2014
Plaza de la Botxa. PichiAvo

Public art is anything that takes place in places of public access , streets, squares, gardens, plots, roundabouts … of cities that by their characteristics of accessibility, influx and diversity of people who transit, cause a confrontation on the public and the private.

Public art is therefore participatory. By adding the factor of the ephemeral, it becomes even more democratic art. A democracy that does not have to be just because it needs the understanding of the whole city, a complex socio-political context with specific character that depends on communication, education, and other areas of culture.

Street art, translation of the expression street art, refers to all street art, often illegal. But urban art encompasses both graffiti and various other forms of street art expression. Between urban and street art, the connotation of nuisance can be appreciated.

Urban discomfort is too common a feeling. Is usually associated with graffiti the tag and tager (“label”) being a manifestation of the ego which means exactly what a signature means (“I was here”). With legal consequences depending on where that signature is applied, be it a document, a wall, glass or the rest of the urban furniture.

That need to manifest the ego in public space , sometimes, is a vandalistic act because it is an imposition of one ego on another. It is a necessity of a part of society that being an abuse, will not disappear. Hence the legality or illegality of public art according to its “efimeridad“.

Urban art has the same life as a city and is therefore in constant evolution.Among the genres of this urban art is also the collective mural, with various techniques that move away from the individualistic signature and that raises the visual regeneration in deteriorated areas, turning the walls and medians of the city into a museum open 365 days a year.

With a semi-permanent and legal character , and that sometimes depending on the dimensions become an overproduction that needs a project with high budget. The scenario is the same but the treatment is not.

If the purpose of art is to stop the spectator , seeking to provoke a reflection. The Fallas suppose to paralyze the city, to dress it of monuments and citizen participation to celebrate the vindication of the critical sense to later be burned, is therefore an exercise of mental hygiene, is to allow that a society advances.

It is also a citizen demonstration that reminds the political power that can be organized without state and that associative power is a force to be taken more into account. This great space for reflection, so public and playful, generates a free gaze that makes it arouse so much interest. Las Fallas is the largest existing urban art event.

Selecting a project for the municipal fault line devised by urban artists places a double value on urban culture. Generating this metatextuality also demonstrates an evolution in art, because the falla must be a space for reflection in the public space, a space for collaborative art, where an increasingly demanding public that claims us its participation is served.

The fault must therefore comply with the society of its time , must be a reflection of an evolving society, which demands changes in its satire so that it is no longer the homophobic, macho and racist joke that not so long ago seemed to us to be the most amusing; or the drift towards the return of a more ecological cremà, where it is no longer worth using any material to increase the volume of the fault, it is necessary to reclaim the fire. Therefore we are before some faults that a new public also claims his, not only the faults are of the fallero world, the faults if we want them to be Patrimony of Humanity, must be of all.

Fallas, today, are fulfilling a function that long ago could be seen in some risky “fallero” exercise in times of the dictatorship as the failure of Trojan Horse of Rubert for the city council or some of Moon , which despite its literality, introduced us in art or architecture in a more intellectual way.

And of course the failures that Manolo Martín was planting, already in democracy, in the city council or especially. His failures have always counted with all kinds of collaborations: such as that of the plastic artists Ortifus, Sento Llobel, Sigfrido Martín Vegué, Chema Cobo, etc; or modelled as Montesinos, writers as Manuel Vicent or theoreticians as Paco Jarque.

Manolo Martín is the one that establishes the collaboration of the artist “no fallero” in the concept and the realization of the fallero monument, thanks to him we have arrived at what today seems the most normal, that is to claim some faults for all, that are reflection of a culture and of a contemporary society.

That Las Fallas be in contact with contemporary art and that contemporary art also be in contact with Las Fallas. Because not so much ago to say “that is fallero” was derogatory, today there is a specialty in Fine Arts that is dedicated to the investigation of falleras techniques combining tradition with technology. Therefore we are in full social revolution fallera and by extension in full urban cultural revolution, because the rhythm of the society has imposed it to us.

From the first edition to the last edition, Intramurs also aims to generate a space for reflection similar to Fallas but from another context. Mobilizing the city to generate a cultural and participatory context. Intramurs has programmed hundreds of events every year that have always been enjoyed freely and free of charge, many of them have been urban interventions in public space.

Conscious of our limitations , given that the festival is born from a group of artists and independent managers, we have continually tried to reinvent ourselves, always maintaining a commitment to creativity and experimentation in artistic production. This line of work, which has made us every year a model and reference for similar initiatives, inside and outside the city, is what has led Intramurs to be recognized, in 2018, as the first finalist project in the category of citizen participation in the awards of Social Innovation City of Valencia .

Of the interventions performed in the public space during Intramurs, in the first edition, one of the most interesting was the collective intervention Trashformations in the Plaza del Músic López-Chávarri. An installation that, temporarily, provided a minimum sense to the central vacuum of this inhospitable square, transforming it into a parking lot of crushed cars, to the point of reducing them to the two-dimensionality, in which the children played on the scrap iron. 

A reflection on the municipal policies of the moment was thus encouraged, both those concerning mobility and the conservation – or destruction – of the urban landscape. But that same year was also the year in which we were able to enjoy a joint mural in the Plaza de la Botxa where Pichiavo , the artists who this year have designed and painted the municipal fault, along with others such as Toni Espinar, Julietta, Deith, Barbiturikills, Xenon, Diox, carried out a joint work that describes the evolution of the worms that become the fabric of silk, a mural of more than one hundred square meters that required the management of the collective Ciutat Vella Batega together with Intramurs to be able to be carried out, since it is the back of the Carmelitas convent located in Guillem de Castro.

In the second edition , the most emblematic piece was the installation of Monique Bastians , who built in the Plaza de la Mare de Déu, with the collaboration of thousands of Valencians, a gigantic barley field. The work maintained a double dialogue, both with the history of the city, through the formal reference to the irrigation ditches and the Tribunal de les Aigües , and with the present and future of the place, as it was the first artistic intervention of a non-religious nature, although a participative offering, which occupied this symbolic space.

Monique Bastians. “Ejercicios para crecer

But we must also highlight the mural which Boa Mistura carried out in a median of Roger de Flor Street, where the word “Canvi” was intertwined with other allegorical elements to augur that promised social change. That year we also received the visit of the Canarian artist Kop Tropical and the Buenos Aires artist Cabaio to carry out his interventions, one in the square of Viriato, which still persists and the other, which unfortunately does not, in the adjacent street of Carrasquer.

From that year I would also like to highlight the impressive project that Isbel Messeguer presented at the IVAM site. “Tighter than lycra“, was a brilliant and fun parade of models “dressed” by graffiti artists who painted their naked bodies as if they were living walls.

Isbel Messeguer. “Más apretadas que con licra

In 2017 we presented two large urban interventions , but this time of a performatic nature, the Patolic Mass by Leo Bassi and the Tracapelló by Marcel-lí Antúnez . Both had as background the emblematic Torres dels Serrans and if in the first one the topic of the religion was approached in cirquense key, including an enormous divinity with form of duck (of bathtub), in the second it was treated the topic of the political populism in carnival and fallera key with a ludic contribution to our festive culture: the flour battle that preceded to the final cremà of the Tracapelló.

Two risky productions which demanded the participation of numerous volunteers -especially in the case of the Antúnez project that approached the hundred- conspired to alter the vital pulse of the city and fill the Plaza dels Furs and surroundings with intense artistic vibrations, but also acidic, but always funny, criticisms of the System.

PichiAvo graffiti Festival Intramurs Valencia 2014

The experience of live art , the main source of energy in Intramurs, which appears every year in the streets, squares and gardens of Ciutat Vella, stimulating the most diverse reflections, sensations and emotions; those that only the most participative art is able to offer, surely that inspires for this year 2019 the artistic duo Pichiavo recognized for their ability to create relations between art, architecture, sculpture, space and social contexts, to surprise us with a highly attractive, performative and participative approach with their vision of deconstruction of the classic art and of the most current urban art.

Salvia Ferrer Boullosa

Director of Intramurs

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