Niño de Elche – Invisible Auto Sacramental: A Sonic Representation from Val del Omar – Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Sabatini Building, Space 1 – 7 October, 2020 – 26 April, 2021.

José Val del Omar (Granada, 1904 – Madrid, 1982) began composing Auto Sacramental Invisible (Invisible Auto Sacramental) in 1949. In the form of a sound installation, he conceived this device to dovetail with a crafted outline that carefully distributes sound (voices, music, different noises…) across more than a dozen speakers. The process shaped an aesthetic piece that foreshadowed reflections that would engender the expression “sound art” in the 1960s.

The work, virtually unknown — it would only be presented in June 1952, and partially and tentatively at that — can be understood as a kind of “missing link” inside a Valdelomarian aesthetic evolution. Moreover, Auto Sacramental Invisible goes some way to explaining the leap from the young film-maker and photographer — in close proximity to documentary realism — linked to the Pedagogical Mission, and Val del Omar – now wholly cinemist, abstract, poetic — who, from 1954 onwards, would present, via Aguaespejo granadino (Water-Mirror of Granada), his magnum opus Tríptico elemental de España (Elementary Triptych of Spain).

From a present-day perspective, the fact that this evolution was channelled through an aesthetic approach primarily linked to sound and perception takes on greater relevance. Auto Sacramental Invisible: Una representación sonora a partir de Val del Omar (Invisible Auto Sacramental: A Sonic Representation from Val del Omar) mixes, in a complex intermedial synthesis, strands of theatre, music and installation which, in Niño de Elche’s interpretation, are put off-centre — detonated — through multiple voices that simultaneously align towards Spain in 1952, to which the work bore witness, and 2020, welcomed and presented for the first time in the Museo Reina Sofía.

Photos: Juan Carlos Quindós, DR

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