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Val del Omar

Monographic exhibition at the C3A.

Mar 21 - Sep 1, 2024

‘José Val del Omar: A Technique with a Capital T’, curated by Lluís Alexandre Casanovas and the first retrospective in over a decade, includes more than 300 pieces and numerous unpublished materials.

The C3A (Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía), headquarters of the CAAC in Córdoba, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sports, presents until September 1st the first retrospective dedicated to the filmmaker, audiovisual technician, and media theorist José Val del Omar (Granada, 1904 – Madrid, 1982) in over a decade. The exhibition offers a new historical contextualization that, far from considering Val del Omar as an isolated creator, places him at the center of a constellation of discourses, institutions, and disciplines of the 20th century, emphasizing the commitment to the viewer that always characterized his artistic practice. This exhibition project brings together around 300 works and documents, contributed by around fifteen public institutions and private collections, including the José Val del Omar Archive, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Spanish Film Archive, the Museo del Traje, the Museo Nacional de Escultura, the Residencia de Estudiantes, the Pablo Iglesias Foundation, the Real Academia de San Fernando, the Filmoteca de Andalucía, or the Museo Julio Romero de Torres, which lends the canvas ‘Virgen de los Faroles’ (1928) by the Cordovan artist. Among these pieces, there is numerous unpublished material that highlights the dialogue that Val del Omar’s work established with different episodes of Spanish art history, as evidenced, for example, by the previously unseen photographs from ‘Fire in Castile’ provided by the Spanish Film Archive, the projector from the Pedagogical Missions lent by the Filmoteca de Andalucía, reflecting the work that the Granada-born artist developed for the cultural project of the Second Republic, of which there are other testimonies, such as the copy of the painting from the Museo del Prado ‘The Vision of Saint Francis’ by El Greco, provided by the Residencia de Estudiantes.

‘Val del Omar. A Technique with a Capital T’ traces the filmmaker’s endeavor to explore the possibilities and effects that technologies such as cinema, electroacoustics, or television have on the viewer. The exhibition examines Val del Omar’s search for forms of artistic production that surpass a homogenizing commercial spectacle. A project, that of Val del Omar, with techno-scientific and spiritual roots mainly developed from public institutions, and which must mutate to adapt to the different political contexts of the Spanish State during the 20th century: from the intellectual effervescence of the Second Republic, to the vicissitudes of the repressive regime that follows the Civil War, to the attempts of the Francoist regime to fit into the complex political-industrial puzzle of the Cold War, to the freedom of creation inaugurated by democracy from 1975 onwards. Responding to a renewed interest in his work, ‘Val del Omar. A Technique with a Capital T’ claims its relevance in a present characterized by visual saturation, the normalization of propaganda, and an increasingly aggressive use of technology. This exhibition project has been curated by Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco and has the curatorial advice of Piluca Baquero, director of the Val del Omar Archive, and the consultancy of Gonzalo Sáenz de Buruaga, president of the Val del Omar Archive. The exhibition starts from a text by Val del Omar himself, “The Firmament of a Technique with a Capital T,” written in the 1960s, in which he urged Spaniards to think about a technique that, as a “burning window between the document and the mystery,” would make “information a collective end.” “A technique that, far from the individual experience offered at that time by the advertising and propaganda of the Cold War, would foster an understanding and shared emotion among equals,” as highlighted by the exhibition’s curator.

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