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ScenesfromtheContemporaryBarcelonaStage:

LaFuradelsBaussAspirationtotheAuthentic1
SharonG.Feldman(bio)
TheatreJournal,Volume50,Number4,December1998,pp.447472

by:SharonG.Feldman

Itsnotasocialphenomenon,itsnotagroup,itsnotapoliticalcollective,itsnotacircleofalliedfriends,its
notanassociationestablishedforacause....Itproducestheatrethroughtheconstantinterferencebetween
intuitionandinvestigation.Itsexperiencedlive.Eachactionrepresentsapracticalexercise,anaggressive
performanceagainstthepassivityofthespectator,aninterventionofimpactdesignedtoaltertherelationship
betweenhim/herandthespectacle.

LaFuradelsBaus,Elmanifestcanalla2

ExplosionatSitges
InOctober1983,justsouthofBarcelonaattheannualSitgesTheatreFestival,beneaththerailroadtracksinthe
claustrophobicspaceofasubterraneanpedestrianpassageway,LaFuradelsBauseruptedintopublicviewwith
anembryonicversionoftheirfirstmajorspectacle,entitledAccions(Actions).Theperformancewas
conceivedalongthesameaestheticlinesthatcontinuetoshapeeventhemostrecentworkofthisCatalan
company.Accionsconsistedofaseriesoftransgressiveand,attimes,startlingexercicisprctics(practical
exercises)intendedtoelicitanimpulsive,visceralresponsefromaudiencemembers.Intheirprogramnotes,La
Furadefinedtheperformanceasagamewithoutnorms,aballkickedrightintheface,anoisyracket,arelease
oflightandpyrotechnics;thebestwayofdestroyingacar,asharpthud,a[EndPage447]brutalsuccessionof
hammerblows,asonorousexecution,achainoflimitsituations,aplastictransformationinanunusualarea. 3
Accionspossessedakindoforganic,roughcut,seamsshowingqualityreminiscentoftheworkofCatalanartist
AntoniTpies.4LikeTpiessmatterpaintings,whichresemblewallsmadeofearthandstone,LaFuras
Accionsappearedtobeinaconstantstateofconstructionorundoing.Theyreflectedadesiretoreturntoa
primal,prelinguistic,authenticreality,beyondtheconstraintsofrepresentationandsignification.LaFura
beganwithanempty,undifferentiatedspace,uninhabitedbytheatricalghostings,andtheretheyendeavoredto
chisel,carveout,andconstituteascenicarchitecturethroughtheuseoforganicandresidualmaterialsandtheir
ownphysical,livepresence.5Ahypnoticbrandofavantgardemusicplayedasnudemalebodiesseemedto
emanatefromoutofnowhere,smearedwithraweggandflour,orcoveredwithsandandmud.Theyhurled
themselvesintothecrowdofspectators,frighteningsomeandenthrallingothers.Inoneofthemostvisually
impressiveexercises,nudechrysalidmencoveredinplasticplacentaeweresuspendedfromropesand
propelledtowardahugewhitecanvascoveredwithbagsofcoloredgelatinouspaint.Thepigmentsspewed
acrossthecanvasinanironicrecollectionoftheworkofJacksonPollockandYvesKlein.6LaFurasspectacle
stressedtheprocess(thatis,theperformance)overthefinalproduct;itpresentedtheatreintheveryactof
becomingandintheactoffadingawaywhatCatalanartcriticPereSalabertreferstoinhisownmetaphysical
discourseasSelfdestruction,disappearance.Ejaculatorydischargeofthatwhichistheretheworldinthe
puremakingspectacularofthings.7When,neartheendofAccions,ahighpressurehosewasusedtospraythe
canvasclean,LaFurasbodypaintingappearedtovanishinaninstant,therebyevadingcommodificationasa
fixedandpermanentworkofart.8

Inanotherdefiningmomentoftheperformanceonethatrousedagreatdealofcommentaryfromthepress
membersofthegroup,dressedindarkurbanformalwear,demolishedanentireautomobile(ascrapof
postindustrialrefuse)withtheir[EndPage448]barehandsandanax.9AttheendofAccions,theautowas
ignitedandenvelopedinflamesinanegativegestureofdestructionwhichparalleledthedisappearanceofthe
painting.LaFuradelsBaus,withtheirseeminglygratuitousandaleatoryactionsleftaonlyafugacious
imprintontheemptyspace.Theperformersthendisappearedintotheundifferentiatedchaosfromwherethey
wereborn.Likefootprintsonthebeachimmediatelywashedawaybythetide,signswererenderedvisible,and
thentheyvanished,andwiththeirvanishingandselfconsumption,sotoodisappearedthepossibilityof
reference.Eachritualizedgesturewasdrainedofmeaning,foritwasthespectacularityofthegestureitselfthat
mattered.

LaFuradelsBausemergedasacollectivein1979,duringtheperiodofpoliticalparadox,culturalrenaissance,
andfreneticactivitythatcharacterizedSpainspostFrancodemocratictransition.Sincethattime,theyhave
evolvedintooneofCataloniasmostrevered,provocative,andsuccessfulperformancegroups,havingachieved
animpressiverangeofinternationalvisibilityandcriticalattention.10LaFurasmainbodyofworkiscomposed
oftwotrilogies:Accions(1983)Suz/o/Suz(1985)TierMon(1988)andNoun(1990)M.T.M.(1994)Manes
(1996).Theseareambitious,predominantlynonverbal,spectaclesinwhichthissocalledurbantribeemploys
amultimediaaestheticofcollageinpresentingitsdeliriousobsessions.Theplasticarts,dance,mime,elaborate
sadisticlookingmachinery,nudebodiesperformingimpressivefeatsofathleticism,livemusic,video,mobile
sculptures,recycledmaterials,slideandlaserprojections,andpyrotechnicsarejustsomeoftheelements
embracedbyLaFurasradicallyextendedconceptofmiseenscne.

IfthereisoneobsessionthatflowsthroughallLaFuraswork,itisafascinationwiththerapportbetweenthe
humanbeingandhisorherpostindustrialsurroundings.InaprocessthatbeginswithAccionsandculminates
withM.T.M.,thosewhoattendLaFurasspectaclesareimplicitlyaskedtocontemplatetheirrolesinavisually
orientedcultureinwhichtheinterventionoftechnologyleadstoaproblematicsearchforauthenticity.Within
thecontextoftheatricalperformance,thissearchisplayedoutasadesireforunmediatedexperience,anechoof
AntoninArtaudsinfluentialstruggle[EndPage449]againstlogocentrism,textualauthorityandthenotionsof
repetitionandrepresentationthatareembodiedinthisstruggle.11ThepresenceinAccionsofthelivenudebody,
strippedoftheatricalattireandmakeup,isperhapsthemostvividexpressionofthisthirstforauthenticity,forthe
real,forimmediacy.Nothingishidden.Theperformerdoesnotconcealhimselfbehindthemaskofadramatic
personage;rather,everythingisplainlyvisible,uncoveredbeneaththespectatorsgaze.12Salabertaptlyequates
LaFurasoverexposurewiththeBaudrillardeanconceptofobscenity,callingitbrutal,evenhairraising. 13
Indescribingthenonreferentiallandscapeofsimulation,JeanBaudrillardtellsusthatobscenitybegins
preciselywhen...allbecomestransparenceandimmediatevisibilityandthat,theobsceneputsanendto
everyrepresentation.14Toviolatethebinarylogicoftheatricalrepresentationis,forLaFura,toreturnto
primordialorigins,toaprediscursivespaceofsilencethatcanonlyexisthereandnow.If,asLaFuradelsBaus
seemtosuggest,wecanlocateaplacewhererepresentationiscompletelydenied,thenwewillhaveuncovered
thereal:purepresenceinitsmostuntaintedstateandaplacewheretheatretrulydoesequallife.

ItislikelythattheforegoingdescriptionofLaFurasworkmayelicitcertainpangsoftheatricaldjvu,for,as
RogerCopelandremindsus,theconcernwithauthenticityandlivingpresenceiscertainlynotanewor
revolutionaryconcept;itisanotionthathasalwaysbeensacredtothetheatreandnevermoresothanduring
the1960s,whenitevolvedintoakindofvanguardistobsession.15Thispreoccupationwiththemetaphysicsof
presence,asMarvinCarlsonwouldhaveit,16underpinnedbyalongingforunmediatedexperience,hasevolved
intoawidelydisputedissue.PoststructuralisttheoryparticularlyJacquesDerridasdeconstructivereadingsof
Artaud,aswellastheworkofHerbertBlauandBaudrillardhasalreadycastseverallayersofdoubtuponthe
idealisticclaimstotheatricalimmediacythatemergedinEuropeduringthefirsthalfofthetwentiethcentury
(futurism,Dada,surrealism,Bauhaus)andpersistedonbothsidesoftheAtlanticthroughoutthe1960sand
1970sintheworkofperformancegroupssuchasTheLivingTheatreandtheThtreduSoleil.AsBlau
observes,thequestforunmediatedexperiencewillforeverremainunfilled:thereissomethinginthevery
natureofperformancewhich,liketherepeatedspoolofthefort/da(Krappsextrapolatedspoool),impliesno
firsttime,noorigin,butonlyrecurrenceandreproduction,whetherimprovisedorritualized,rehearsedor
aleatoric.17Eachperformance,hemaintains,existsinaspaceofamortization;thatis,onborrowedtime,
imbeddedwithinaculturalorinstitutionalframethathasbeen[EndPage450]establishedapriori.18Attacking
theproblemfromaphenomenologicalstandpoint,StantonGarnerconceivestheatricalpresenceasanoscillating
playofperceptuallevels,wherebyactualityalternateswith,andeveninfiltrates,illusion,butdoesnot
replaceit:thetheatricalmodeofthispresence,orgivenness,isorientedintermsofanexperientialactualitythat
transgresses(whileneverfullyerasing)theboundariesbetweenisandasif.19LaFurasperformances
repeatedlyattempttoruptureandconfoundthisalternationbetweentheactualandthevirtual.

WhenconsideringLaFuradelsBaus,onemight,therefore,beunderstandablyinclinedtoviewtheirlessthan
subtleaestheticallusionstothepolemicalnotionoftheatricalpresenceasaratherbelated,orevenepigonic,
manifestationofthetypeofexperimentationthatcharacterizedthe1960sand1970savantgardes(Happenings,
environmentaltheatre,immediatetheatre,radicaltheatre).So,howdoesonebegintoaccountforthe
presenceincontemporaryCatalonia(and,byextension,contemporarySpain)ofthisseeminglybelated
aesthetic?And,moreover,whataretheculturalandpoliticalimplicationsofitsexistence?Inordertoaddress
thesequestions,itisnecessarytobacktrackseveraldecades,totheCatalanandSpanishculturalcontextsthatset
thestageforLaFuraswork.Ontheonehand,LaFurasappearanceduringtheperiodofSpainsdemocratic
transitioncanbeperceivedasaresponsetothereleaseofpoliticalandculturaloppressionfollowingthedemise
oftheFrancodictatorshipin1975.Thecompanyis,ineffect,akeyplayerinanewgenerationofgrups,troupes,
andcollectiusthathasbeenabletoblossominCataloniawiththefreedomandopportunitiesgarneredduring
thedemocraticperiod.However,itisalsoessentialtobearinmindthatthesegroupsdidnotspringforthfroma
culturalvoid,butthattheyrepresenttheculminationofalongstandingtrajectoryofexperimentaltheatrein
Catalonia.Inthepagesthatfollow,Ishallofferadescriptiveaccountoftheculturalandhistoricalcircumstances
thatgaverisetoLaFurasemergenceinpostFrancoSpain,highlightingtheirhistoricaestheticconnectionswith
theindependenttheatremovement,artist/poet/playwrightJoanBrossa,thecultureofthemovida,andthe
Europeanavantgardesofthefirsthalfofthetwentiethcentury.IshallthenturnmyattentiontoLaFuras
artistictrajectorysubsequenttoAccionsinordertodemonstratehowthecompanyspreoccupationwith
authenticityissymptomaticofadesiretoreturntoessentialoriginsaswellasacontemporaryanxiety
concerningtheaestheticizationandspectacularizationofreality.LaFurasperformancesaresituatedinaspace
oftemporalflux:betweenapastthatrevealsitselfthroughprimitiveritual(anallusiontothecompanys
CatalanMediterraneanorigins),andafuturethatisportrayedthroughmediatizedvisionsofahightech
globallyorientedEurope.TheirspectaclesthuspaintanemblematicportraitofSpainduringatimeinwhich
unstableidentitiesareinconstantmotion,competinginanongoingstruggleforlegitimacy.

LaFura:HeirApparenttotheIndependent
TheatreMovement
AlthoughthestiflingcensorshippracticesoftheFrancoregimeundoubtedlyleftalastingimprintuponthe
developmentoftheatreandperformanceincontemporarySpain,theatrepractitionersduringthepostCivilWar
perioddidnotfindthemselves[EndPage451]thoroughlydeprivedofopportunitiesforexperimentation.Itisa
factrarelyunderscoredbySpanishandEuropeantheatrehistorians,buttotalitarianSpaindidexperienceitsown
theatricalavantgarde,whichparalleledandwasstronglyinfluencedbytheactivitiesofinternationally
acclaimedgroupssuchastheLivingTheatre,theSanFranciscoMimeTroupe,andBreadandPuppet.Beginning
inthe1950s,theSpanishtheatricallandscapewitnessedthegenesisofavarietyofcommunitarianperformance
troupesconceivedasnonofficialandnonprofessionalalternativestogovernmentsubsidizedtheatre.Theseso
calledindependenttheatregroupsElsJoglarsandComediantsinCatalonia,TbanoandLosGoliardosin
Madrid,AkelarreintheBasqueRegion,andLaCuadraofSevillearesomewellknownexamplesengagedin
theirownexplorationsoftheimplicationsofcollectivecreation.20Linguisticcensorshipappearedtoencourage
theindependenttheatresprevailinginterestinnontextual,gestural,pantomimicformsofperformance.For
discerningspectatorswhowereabletoreadbetweenthelines,silencebecamejustaspowerfulastrategyof
politicalprotestandsocialcommitmentasthespokenword.

InCatalonia,wheretheCatalanlanguagewas,andstillis,adrivingculturalforce,theissueoffreedomof
expressioninevitablyintertwinedwiththequestionofaffirmingaCatalanculturalidentity.TheFrancoregimes
privilegingoftheatreinCastilianSpanishsignificantlymitigatedtheactivitiesoftheprofessionalCatalanstage
somuchsothatbythe1950s,accordingtoEnricGallen,Barcelonasprofessionaltheatrescenewasina
lamentablestate,aestheticallyantiquatedandexceedinglydull.21Theperformanceoftranslationswaslargely
prohibited,andplayscouldbepresentedinCatalanonlyatafewlocales.Themostprogressivemembersofthe
Catalantheatrescene,consequently,werepropelledtowardeitherselfimposedexileornonprofessional
alternativeenvironmentsinwhichtheycouldexploreexperimentalmodesofperformance.Whiletherewere
limitationstothenumberoftimesaplaycouldbeperformedinpublic,thiswasarulethatatleastcarriedthe
positiveeffectofencouraginganarrayofproductions.Italsostimulatedtheproliferationofitineranttheatre
companies.22

In1956,directorRicardSalvat,MiquelPorter,andElenaEstellscreatedanexperimentalgroupknownasthe
TeatreViu(LivingTheatre).MuchoftheworkoftheTeatreViuwasdevelopedwithinanimprovisational
environmentinwhichparticipantsdrewuponthemethodsofpantomimeandgestureofJeanLouisBarrault.
Eventually,theTeatreViuestablishedtieswiththeAgrupaciDramticadeBarcelona(ADB),whosecentral
aimwastoreviveartisticandsocialinterestsoastoenableCatalantheatretorelateoncemoretothedominant
currentsofcontemporaryforeigntheatre.23Additionally,theADBtookonthetaskofpromotingand
publishingplaysbyseveralavantgardeCatalanauthorswhowereunabletointegratethemselvesinto[End
Page452]theparadigmofthecommercialmainstream.OneofthesemarginalizedauthorswasJoanBrossa,a
highlyinnovativeandprolificvisualartist,poet,andplaywright,whohasleftadecisivemarkontheevolutionof
theCatalanvanguardduringthesecondhalfofthetwentiethcentury.24ItwasnotuntilafterFrancosdeaththat
Brossasworkswerestagedwithanysortofnormalcy,andeventoday,theyarerarelystagedatBarcelonas
mostgrandiloquentvenues.

WithanaffinityforsatireandafascinationwithCatalanculture,Brossahasappropriatedandintegrateda
varietyofpopularandparatheatricalformsofentertainmentintohisinterdisciplinarytheatrepieces.The
commediadellarte,themusichall,striptease,circus,magicshows,mime,vaudeville,andcarnivalregularly
crosspathsinhisspectacles,whichareoftenpurelyvisual,brief,andminimalist.Sincethelate1940s,hehas
experimentedwithhybridartisticconfigurations,suchascollages,installations,andperformanceart,andhas
eveninventedhisownlexicontodescribehisworkinthesegenres,whichinmanywaysanticipatesLaFuras
performancestyle:poesiavisual(visualpoetry),accionsespectacle(spectacleactions),postteatre
(posttheatre),accionsmusicals(musicalactions),fregolismes(monologueswhosenamepayshomagetothe
famousItaliantransformistLeopoldoFregoli),andpoesiaescnica(scenicpoetry).DavidGeorgeandJohn
Londoncategorizemuchofthisworkasquasihappeningsavantlalettre,whichrelystronglyonthephysical
interventionoftheaudience.25InBarcelona,in1963,agovernmentdecreedissolvedtheADBfollowinga
performanceofBrechtsThreePennyOpera.However,in1960,SalvatandMariaAureliaCapmanyhadalready
createdtheEscoladArtDramticAdriGual(EADAG),aschoolthatwouldserveasacradleforthemost
innovativeCatalantheatricalactivity.BythetimetheEADAGcloseditsdoorsin1976,thisschoolhadplayeda
substantialroleintrainingthemostoutstandingmembersofCataloniasindependenttheatremovement.

ConcurrentwiththeevolutionoftheTeatreViu,theADB,andtheEADAGwasagrowinginterestamong
CatalanperformersinmimeandpantomimeespeciallytheworkofItaloRiccardiofChileandJacquesLecoq
ofFrance.Fortheseartists,nonverbalcommunication,ineffect,becameanimplicitaffirmationofCatalan
culturalidentityinthatitsignifiedarefusaltoyieldtotheomnipotentauthorityoftheCastilianSpanish
language.Iftheycouldnotspeaktheirownlanguage,betternottospeakatall.Thus,intheirquestforfreedom
ofexpression,theearlyparticipantsintheCatalanindependenttheatremovementnotonlyfounditnecessaryto
turntheirbacksonBarcelonaslethargicprofessionalstage,butalsofeltobligedtolookawayfromMadrid,
awayfromthesymboliccenterofthedominantCastiliancultureandtheFrancoregime.Instead,theywould
lookoutward,towardEurope,inagesturethatCatalanartistsandwritershadbeenknowntoperformfor
centuries.Itispossible,therefore,todistinguishadirectrapportbetweenthesuppressionoftheCatalanlanguage
andcultureandthegrowthandvitalityofBarcelonasindependenttheatre.

WithFrancosdeathin1975andthesubsequenttransitiontodemocracyinSpain,themajorityofthe
independenttheatretroupeswereforcedtoexaminetheirraison[EndPage453]detrewhentheirmaincause
forrebellionhadsuddenlyceasedtoexist.26Whilethiscrisisoccasionedthedemiseofmanytroupes,thelegacy
oftheSpanishindependenttheatremovementcontinuestobefeltinthe1990s,especiallyinCatalonia,where
economicpotencyandpoliticalauthorityaccumulatedduringpostFrancodemocratictimeshaveservedto
reinforceastrongsenseofculturalidentity.AcrucialclusterofCatalancompaniesElsJoglars,Comediants,
DagollDagom,ElTeatreLliurethatoriginatedinthemarginsofFrancoistoppressionandcensorship
continuestothrivetoday,havingachievedcommercialsuccessinpostdictatorialtimes.Thesegroupsessentially
pavedthewayfortheappearanceofthenewgenerationofCatalancompaniesthatincludesLaFuradelsBaus.
Establishedduringthelate1970sand1980s,LaCubana,Smola,ElTricicle,VolRas,andZotalaresomeofthe
othergroupswhosenames,likethatofLaFura,havebeguntoresonatefarbeyondthebordersofCataloniaand
SpaininplacessuchasEdinburgh,NewYork,andBuenosAires.LaFuradelsBausisthusaproductofthe
creativemomentumthatcontinuestoemanatefromatraditionofCatalanperformanceandcollectivecreation
spanningmorethanthreedecades.Itisatraditionthatcorroboratesthehistoricalsignificanceoftheindependent
theatremovementasasourceofinnovationandrenovation,notonlywithinthecontextofCatalonia,butalso
withinthebroadersphereofSpainandthecontemporaryEuropeanstage.

Afterdecadesoffascistsuppression,theCatalancultureandlanguagearetodayasenergeticasever,and,
ironically,theeconomicstabilityandvitalitythatmanyoftheabovecitedcompaniesnowenjoyis,inpart,
attributabletothefactthattheynolongersubsistoutsidetheboundariesofinstitutionalsupport.Mostofthem,
includingLaFuradelsBaus,nowreceivesubsidiesonanannualbasisfromSpainscentralgovernment,aswell
astheAutonomousGovernmentofCatalonia(theGeneralitat).Hence,whileFrancosdeatheventually
occasionedtheendofofficialcensorship,itdidnotbringanendtothestrongtiesexistingbetweenpoliticsand
theatreinSpain.27ThePartidoSocialistaObreroEspaol(SpanishSocialistWorkersParty,orPSOE),which
dominatedthecentralgovernmentfrom1982to1996(ledbythenPresidentFelipeGonzlez),authorizeda
significantincreaseintheamountofpublicsubsidiesforthetheatreandtheartsingeneral.However,asMara
JosRaguAriaspessimisticallyasserts,theStatehasbeenconvertedintotheprincipaltheatreimpresario,and
thecontrolofpublicsubventionsappearstohavereplacedFrancoistcensorship.28

Asearlyas1979,theyearofLaFurasestablishment,theBarcelonatheatrescenewasalreadyimmersedina
seriesofpolemicaldebatessurroundingtheinstitutionalizationofCatalanartandculture,thedistributionof
publicfundingforthearts,and[EndPage454]thehazyboundariesseparatingthepublicandprivatetheatre
sectors.29TheconceptionandcreationoftheTeatreNacionaldeCatalunya(TNC)becameaparticularly
contentioussiteofdebate.Thesixtymilliondollarpostmodernedifice,designedbyRicardoBofillandfunded
bytherightcentristGeneralitat,wasofficiallyinauguratedinSeptember1997;however,controversies
surroundingthistheatrespolitical,fiscal,andculturalagendasstillhavenotabated.InApril1998,LaFuradels
Bauswereinvitedtopremieretheirmostrecentwork,F@ustversi3.0,attheTNC.Theproductionwasbacked
notonlybypublicinstitutions(suchasSpainscentralgovernment,theGeneralitat,andtheCDN)butalso
privatecorporations(suchasMercedesBenz,Iberia,andFreixenet).Thesettingandsituationsurroundingthis
productionwerecertainlyafarcryfromLaFurasearlydaysatSitges,andperhapsasignthatinpresentday
Barcelona,thereisagrowingphenomenonofcrossoverbetweenthealternativetheatresceneandthe
mainstream.

LaFuraandlaMovida
Rapid,abrupt,frantic,andvertiginousarejustsomeoftheadjectivesusedtodescribetheaccelerated
paceofcultural,political,social,andeconomicchangeoccurringinSpainfollowingFrancosdeath.AsRosa
Montero,ahighlyregardedjournalistandfictionwriter,hasobserved,contemporarySpainisacountryof
extremes,ofabsurdjuxtapositionsthatresultfromthecoexistenceofaveryoldsocietyandaveryyoung
democracy.30Iftheprevailingsentimentwas,ineffect,thatthingshadchangedovernight,therewasalsoa
lingeringfeelingintheairthattheycouldjustaseasilychangeonceagain.Boththefragilityandstrengthofthis
youngdemocracywereallthemoreapparenton23February1981,whenLieutenantCoronalAntonioTejero
Molina,withthesupportoftwohundredCivilGuards,burstintoameetingoftheSpanishcongressinan
attemptedcoupthatwascapturedbytelevisioncamerasandbroadcastthroughoutSpain.KingJuanCarlosI
shrewdlyandexpeditiouslyintervenedinfavorofdemocracyinagesturethat,forthemoment,seemedtodispel
furthersuspicionsofgovernmentalinstability.Duringtheselateryearsofthedemocratictransition(19791982),
theperiodinwhichLaFuradelsBausmadetheirdebut,manymembersofthepoliticalleft,whoindictatorial
timeshadidealisticallyengagedinantiFrancoistactivism,foundthemselvesincreasinglydisillusionedwiththe
realitiesofthedemocraticsystem.Ifsomeappearedtoundergoacrisisofpoliticalidentityastheysearchedfora
newcauseclbre,theirattitudeofdesencantoordisenchantment,asitiswidelyknownwasalsoa
concretereactiontoheavyunemployment,frivolousgovernmentexpenditures,increasingaccumulationofstate
andpersonaldebt,andescalatingcorruptionandscandals.31[EndPage455]

Paradoxically,thisperiodofdisenchantmentwasalsoatimeofinnovativeartisticundertakings.Asan
authoritarian/CatholicSpainofthepastcontinuedtohoverinthebackground,anewculturalvanguard,
composedprimarilyofartistsborninthe1950sand1960s,movedawayfromthefringeandintotheforeground.
Theyweremembersofayoungdemocraticgeneration,armedwithnewlyacquiredpoliticalandcultural
freedomsandahedonisticdesiretoliveintheEuropeanpresent.Thisebullienteruptionofcreativity,which
someevenrefertoasaculturalmovementandothersbrandasadistinctlySpanishstrainofpostmodernism,
wasaptlydesignatedlamovida(thetermwasborrowedfromthedrugculture,whichusedittorefertothe
acquisitionofhashishasin,irsedemovida).32SinceitsoriginalepicenterwaslocatedinMadrid,theterm
movidamadrileabegantoringinpeoplesears.Althoughtheatmosphereofindulgenceandpermissiveness
thatcharacterizedthisperiodwasalsostronglypronetoadecadentunderside,withincreaseddrugabuseandthe
spreadofAIDS,themovidaisoftenrememberedinratheridealistictermsasacelebrationoffreedomof
expressionartistic,sexual,linguisticwhichattimesresembledthecounterculturalmovementsofthe1960s.
(Politicalapathy,ratherthanturbulence,however,wasmostoftenthetrend.)Aeuphoric,sybaritickindof
energyquicklyinfiltratedSpainsurbanculturallife,especiallythatofMadridandBarcelona,leavingitsimprint
onliterature,theatre,performance,music,film,fashion,art,anddesign.33

Duringthefallof1984andsummerof1985,LaFuradelsBaustraveledtoMadridwithfinancialsupportfrom
thiscitysmunicipalgovernment(ironically,theyhadyettoreceivesupportfromtheGeneralitat).Thecompany
wasenthusiasticallyembracedbythemovidamadrilea.TheyouthcultureofMadridwasexcitedand
mesmerizedbyLaFurasactions,which,wereperceivedasawelcome,avantgardealternativetothemore
traditionalbourgeoiscommercialofferingsthathaddominatedtheSpanishstagefordecades.Ineffect,LaFura
delsBausseemedtospeak,andepitomize,thecounterculturallanguageofthemovida.Therewereevensome
spectatorswhoperceivedinthegroupsritualisticvandalismoftheautomobileacatharticsacrificialspectacle
designedtobanishcorruption,bourgeoisconsumerism,andconspicuousconsumptionfromSpains
contemporarysociety.34

Whatsinaname?
IfmanycriticsandspectatorshavefoundthemselvesperplexedbyLaFurasworkthegroupsenigmatic
relationshipwiththepressisboundtohavecontributedtotheconfusionitisonlynaturalthatonewouldfirst
looktothecompanysnameforsalientclues.Itisanamethathasbeentwistedandtorturedbymanyatheatre
critic.LaFuraliterallymeansferretinCatalan,whiletheBausisareferencetoa[EndPage456]ravine,
nowdry,thatonceranthroughtheprovincialtownofMoi,thebirthplaceofthecompanysthreefounding
members.(ABritishtheatrecriticoncerenderedhisEnglishversionofthenameasVerminoftheSewers. 35)
However,asAlbertdelaTorrepointsout,thenameholdsmoresignificanceintermsofitspoeticand
onomatopoeticvaluethanitsliteralmeaningafactthatissubstantiatedbyanoffhandremarkmadebyan
anonymousmemberofthetroupe:Idontknow;welikeit.Itsoundsgood,doesntit?Andbesides,for
someoneintheknow,itshouldsuggestsomethingalongthelinesofBauhausorPinaBausch. 36Itmay
havebeenanoffhandcomment,buttheallusiontoBauhausandBauschisnotjustareflectionofLaFurasslick
cosmopolitanismandinternationalconsciousness;moresignificantly,thecommentaryisevocativeofthe
companystheoreticaltieswiththeEuropeanavantgardemodesofperformancehistoricallyrootedinfirsthalf
ofthetwentiethcenturyconcretely,theexperimentalworkoftheBauhaus,Artaud,Dada,thefuturists,andthe
surrealists.ThefuturistictheatreprojectsoftheBauhausschoolofdesignofthe1920santicipatedandeven
pavedthewayforLaFurasconceptionofspectacleasanorganicsynthesisofarichvarietyofartisticand
audiovisualmodesofexpression.Intheirexperimentalformulationsofatotaltheatre,membersofthe
Bauhausadvocatedthecreationofmultidisciplinaryfusionsofcolor,light,space,surface,movement,sound,
andthebody.Theyconceivedglobalspectaclesthatattemptedtoportraythehallucinatorytransformationsofthe
humanexperienceoccurringwithinthecontextofamodern,mechanized,urban,industriallandscape.Ina
parallelmanner,theCatalantermthatLaFuraregularlyemploystodescribetheireclecticlanguageisespectacle
integral.

ThefunctionoftheaudienceinLaFurasspectaclesisintenselyparticipatory,andthespectatoroftenhasthe
sensationofbeingplungedintoabarrageofactivity.CoincidingwithRichardSchechnersconceptofan
environmentaltheatre,LaFurasperformancestendtoappropriatealternative,foundspaces,
uncontaminatedbytheatricalconnotations,sothatthespectacleitselfisabletoenterintoadialogwithits
respectivesurroundings.Accordingly,LaFuradelsBaushavechosentoperforminvenuessuchastheKGB
nightclubinBarcelona,thehistoricBarcelonashipyards(lesDrassanes),afishmarketandafuneralhomein
Madrid,andabasketballarenaintheworkingclassBarcelonafringetownofLHospitaletdeLlobregat. 37
RecallingDadaistperformanceexperimentsoftheearlypartofthiscentury,aswellasHappeningsofthe1960s,
audiencemembersfindthemselvescompelledtonegotiatenotonlytheappearanceofmeaning,butalsothe
environmentinwhichtheyfindthemselvesimmersed.LaFurasspectaclesappeartomaterializegraduallyas
partofaneverendingandneverbeginningorganicprocess.Theyareconceivedasorganicentitiesthatgush
forthfromanindeterminatechaos,theirtimingandrhythmbeingimprovisationallydeterminedbythe
spontaneousperceptionandreceptionoftheaudience.Thespectatorsaremanipulatedthroughoutthe
performancespace,obligedtominglewiththeperformersandsetdesign,andtoevolvewiththem.InManes,for
example,[EndPage457]burningtorchesandwaterareusedtomovethecrowdofspectatorstowardstrategic
locationsandconditiontheirresponses.

LaFurasworks,ineffect,areunderpinnedbyasearchforamysticalalliancebetweenperformerandspectator,
suchasthatenvisionedbyArtaud,wherebytheaudiencehastheimpressionofbeingimmersedinatotal,
secondaryreality.38Theritualisticviolenceofthetheatreeventwould,asArtaudremindsus,dissolveall
boundariesofdistinctionbetweentextandrepresentation,actorandspectator,therebythrustingtheaudienceinto
ajarring,transformativeexperience.AsLaFurasmusicaldirectorMikiEspumaaffirms,thegroupsaesthetic
intentions,ofArtaudianinspiration,aredesignedtostirupavisceralratherthancerebralreaction.Music,which
hasacentralfunctionineachspectacle,is,accordingtoEspuma,endowedwiththecapacitytoinciteawide
rangeofbodily/physicalresponses.39LaFurasArtaudianapproachleavesthespectatornoroomforcritical
distance,notimetoponderfullytheimplicationsofwhatoneisseeing.Ratherthanemergeduringthecourseof
theperformance,meaningoftenslipsaway,onlytobeawakenedretrospectivelyinthehoursordaysthatfollow
theperformance.FrancescCerezopointsoutinhisanalysisofAccionsthatthisexperienceofdeferredmeaning
isequallyapplicabletoLaFurascreativeprocess.Evenfortheperformersthemselves,Cerezoobserves,the
rationalizationintellectualizationofthespectacleappearedatapointintimethatwassignificantlyposteriorto
therealization.40

TheBauhausconceptionoftotaltheatre,thecubist/futurist/surrealistcollageaesthetic,andArtaudsTheatreof
Crueltywereamongthemanyreflectionsofthevanguardsdisavowalofarationallydeterminedrelationship
betweensignandreferent,ofanobjectiverepresentationofreality,andofthehistoricalandcollective
consciousnessattachedtothatreality.CollagewasonewayofcreatingwhatEduardoSubiratscallsa
secondaryreality,whichcoulddisplaceandevenliquidatethereal,asurrogatespectacularworldcomposed
ofdecontextualizedandrecontextualizedimages.41Inthespiritoftheavantgardeconceptsoftotalartand
collage,LaFurasaestheticembracesahistoricallyfamiliar,symboliclanguageoftheMediterraneanspectacle,
ofthepopularpaganritualsofCataloniathatwererevivedduringthedemocratictransitionaspartofanopen
assertionofculturalidentityandevennationalism.LaFurasappropriationsofthisMediterraneanlanguage,in
effect,canbetracedtothecompanysoriginsinruralCatalonia(intheaforementionedtownofMoi),where
foundingmembersMarcellAntnez,CarlosPadrissa,andPereTantiembarkedupontheirartistictrajectory
inthelate1970s.Thesethreechildhoodfriends(Antnez,withtrainingintheplasticarts;Padrissa,inmusical
composition;andTanti,incarpentry)beganasharlequinesquestreetperformers,takingpartintraditional
townprocessionsknownascercavilesorpasacalles.Theseprocessionsand[EndPage458]festivities,whichin
somecaseshavebecomeintertwinedwiththetraditionsandiconographyofSpanishCatholicism,typically
incorporatesymbolicelements(fire,water,earth,blood,sea,andsand),aswellasfirebreathingdragonsand
othermythicbeasts,devils,performersonstilts,andgigants(giantfiguresmadeofpapiermchand/or
fiberglass).Theycarrypowerfulcarnivalesqueconnotationsofanarchyandinversion,aswellassacred
connotationsofsacrificeandrenewalthataredeeplyentrenchedintheculturalfabricofthispartofSpain.The
correfoc,forexample,isaceremonialriteofpurificationoftenperformedaroundthetimeofthesummer
solstice,inwhichfirebreathingdragonsanddevilsareparadedthroughvillagestreets,theirfinaldestination
beingalargebonfireinthetownsquare.

InspiredbytheseMediterranean/Catalantraditions,aswellastheitineranttraditionofthecommediadellarte,
LaFuradelsBausleftMoiandtooktheirshowontheroadwithahorseandpullcart.Liketheirpredecessors
ElsJoglarsandComediants,theoriginalmembersofLaFuraweredeterminedtoavoidthepitfallsof
provincialismandsuperficialfolklorism.Accordingly,theirjourneyeventuallylandedtheminmetropolitan
Barcelona,wheretheywereabletoseekthecontributionsofurbanartistswhosebackgroundsandtrainingwere
extremelyvariedandmultidisciplinary.Thecompanyispresentlycomposedofsevenprincipalcreators:
Padrissa,Tanti,MikiEspuma,PepGatell,HanselCereza,JrgenMuller,andlexOll.(Antnezhas
sinceleftthegroup,butcontinuestoworkasaperformanceartist.)Today,additionalperformers(maleand
female),musicians,andtechniciansfromSpainandotherpartsofEuroperegularlycollaborateinLaFuras
productions,makingthisthemosttransnationalofCatalancompanies:theynowhavemultipletouringgroups
thatsimultaneouslycircletheglobeandfeatureamultinationalrosterofartistsfromFrance,Belgium,Germany,
Morocco,Italy,andPortugal,aswellasSpain.42Thecompanyhasalsobeguntoexperimentwiththepossibility
ofperformanceviaInternet.
AfterAccionsorAReturntoEssential
Origins
Baudrillardandothershaverepeatedlydescribedcontemporarycultureasadelirious,hallucinatoryexperience
thatplacesusincontactwithavirtualreality:anaestheticized,theatricalizedrepresentationoftheworld.This
spectacularizationoftherealhasonlyintensifiedduringthelatterhalfofthiscenturywiththeaugmentationof
electronicmassmediaandthetechnologicalsaturationofinformation.Subirats,correspondingly,speaksofthe
curiousblendoffascinationandfear,anguishandenthusiasm,surroundingthecontemporarycreationofnew
electronicallydefinedsocialandculturalfrontiers.43Realityisnotjustconceivedasspectacle,butisdisplaced,
evenliquidated,infavorofillusion.

Forcedtoconfrontanoverabundanceofnewcommunicativemedia,manyavantgardeartists,fromthepostwar
periodon,havefeltaneedtosearchforatypeofart[EndPage459]thatwouldliberatethemfromthetainted,
adulterated,andembellishedversionsofrealitythatcharacterizedtheircontemporaryexperience.Acertain
nostalgiaforthearchaic,areturntomythsandtoaprimitiveiconography,arecoveryofessentialtruths
uncontaminatedbycivilizationareaestheticpracticesthatrepresentamoveawayfromrationalization,
(post)industrialization,andspectacularization.IntheworkofAntoniTpies,itispossibletoperceiveapictorial
renditionthatanticipatesandcoincideswiththeaestheticpracticesofLaFuradelsBaus.Inaddition,Tpiess
personalobservationsareequallyilluminatingwhenviewedalongsideLaFurascreativeendeavors.Referringto
aseriesofworkshecreatedbetween1946and1947,Tpiesdescribestheairofprimitivismwithwhichhe
struggledtoimbuehispaintings:Ididaseriesofcollagesusingsoiledpapers,cardboardmarkedwithcrosses,
pasteddownthread,thescrapingsandpeelingsofordinarymaterials,ofburnedwood,etc....Iwastruly
repulsedbyanythingthatmightseemderived,asCassanyesputitfromhomofaber,thehumanbeingwhowas
industrious,vulgarandmaterialisticintheworstsenseoftheword.44Later,inhisstudyofprogressiveand
modernart,Tpiescomments:Iftodaywearetouchedbycertainprehistoricdrawings,bytheshapesofsome
Africanmasks,bycertaincarvingsinPolynesianritualobjects,bysomeparticularpreColumbianimages...
andalsobythemysteryexudedbymanynaivepaintings,bytheartofmadmen...orbyagreatdealofstreet
graffiti,thisisessentialwiththecosmicorder,withinnaturescycles. 45Hispaintingsportrayadesiretostrip
awaythesurfacelayersoftherealityheperceivesandsubmergehisartisticgazeinarealmofprimordial
impulses.

IfAccions,initssearchforauthenticity,wasaestheticallyevocativeofTpiessmatterpaintings,LaFuras
subsequentworks,Suz/o/Suz,TierMon,Noun,andM.T.M.,intensifiedthisnostalgiafortheprimitive,
convertingitintoakindofanthropologicaljourneyintothepast(or,asinthecaseofNoun,anewlyconfigured
future),asearchforapristineunderlaythatwouldbeuncontaminatedbyhumanitysmaterialismand
industrialism.Paradoxically,alongwiththissearchforessentialorigins,LaFurassuccessiveproductionsalso
appearedtobepropelledinacontrarydirection,becomingincreasinglymoreelaborate,stylized,and
technologicallysophisticated.Inthesespectacles,LaFurarecontextualizetheMediterranean/Catalanrhetoricof
theiroriginswithinacontemporarytechnologicalenvironment.Poeticprimitiveritualofthepastintermingles
withurbaniconographyofthepresent;audaciouspyrotechnicsclashwithfuturisticmachinery;circuslike
acrobaticsoverlapwithrecycledindustrialrubbish.Theimageofthehumanbeingiscontinuallyjuxtaposedwith
thepresenceofthemachine.Originallivemusictakesonacrucialconnotativefunctionbyunderscoringand
punctuatingthisjuxtapositionthemostexemplaryinstancebeingtheperformanceofNoun,inwhichthe
hypnoticrhythmsandpassionatemoansofflamencosingerGinesaOrtegaclashedwiththeicyelectronicsounds
ofheavymetal.46InacollectiveinterviewwithFrancescBurguetArdiaca,LaFurawereaskedaboutthis
characteristicmarriagebetweenmodernityandtheirCatalanprovincialrootsandgavethefollowing
responseregardingthiseverpresentmotif:ItswhatMiralreadysaid,andRaimon,toothathewholoseshis
origins,loseshisidentity.And,infact,inordertoarriveatauniversallanguage,itisimportanttobeginwith
[EndPage460]yourownroots.47TheritualisticgesturesinherentinLaFurasperformancesaresuperimposed
uponaseriesofcontemporaryenvironmentsthatholdhistoricalconnotationsoftheirown,therebycreatinga
dialecticthatvacillatesbetweenaprimordialCatalanpastandapostindustrialpresent.

Suz/o/Suz,perhapsthecompanysmostsuccessfulworktodate,premieredinMadridin1985atMadrids
AntiguaFunerariadeGalileo,anoldabandonedfuneralhome.ItisaworkthatspotlightsLaFurascontinued
fascinationwithritualsomuchsothatpriortoitspremiere,thecompanyfabricatedandissuedanabsurdstory
tothepressinwhichtheyattributedtheirartisticinspirationstoathreemonthanthropologicaljourneythrough
Sudan.Accordingtothepressrelease,severalmembersofthetroupehadbeenlivingwiththeNubatribe.They
evenhadthemselvesphotographedintribalgarb.TheBarcelonapremiereofSuz/o/SuzattheMercatdeles
Flors,inJanuary1986,washeraldedbyanaction,derivedfromtheproduction,inwhichfureroJordiArus
wassuspended,naked,fromacrane,fortyfivemetershigh,betweenthetwoVenetiantowerslocatedonthe
PlaadEspanya.Aruswascoveredingreaseinordertoprotecthimselffromthecold,andafterapproximately
thirtyminutes,hewasloweredintoatankofwater.Itwasastirringimagethatwascapturedbyanddisplayed
throughoutthemediainwhatturnedouttobeaveryeffectivepublicitystunt.LaFurahavesincebeenknownto
gotogreatlengthstodocumentandcommodifytheirperformancesthroughtheproductionofpressdossiers,
compactdiskrecordingsoftheirmusic,CDROMs,manifestospublishedindailynewspapers,andtshirts.

Clickforlargerview
Viewfullresolution
Figure1.

ImagefromSuz/o/Suz.ReproducedwithpermissionofLaFuradelsBaus.

InSuz/o/Suz,thehumanfigureisoftensubjectedtoviolentaggressions:dangledlikeapuppetfromsadistic
lookingpulleysystems;strippednakedandexposed;placedinbondage;carriedaroundonwhatlookslikearack
usedfordriedcod;immersedinpaint,blood,andwater.Imagesthatmayseemshocking,atthesametime,
acquireanextraordinaryaestheticvaluethatmanyspectatorshavefoundtobetremendouslyinspiringand
uplifting.48InthehandsofLaFuradelsBaus,thehumansubject,thebody,isconvertedintoapieceofliving
sculpture,dehumanizedattimes,andyetborderingonthesublimeortheprofoundlybeautiful(fig.1).Inone
stunningritual,nudemaleperformersinfetalpositions,breathingthroughoxygenhosesusedbyscubadivers,
areimmersedforseveralminutesintransparentcubeshapedhumanaquariums.Notingtheritualistic
resonancesofthistableausequence,MercSaumellcallsitabeautifulbirthofinitiation.49Atother
moments,agroupofperformersappearsnudefromthewaistdown,dressedonlyinwhiteshirtsandblackties;
hence,theirurbanapparelassumesasymbolicrole:thebodyofthepartially(un)clothedperformerisdepictedin
astateofundoing,aparingdowntominimalistorigins.

Attimes,theallusionstothisairofprimitivism,asTpieswouldhaveit,seemselfconsciouslyparodic,asin
thebodypaintwornbythenakedmusicianwarriorswhoplayacontemporaryrenditionoftribalmusic,orwhen
theperformersferventlydevourlargepiecesofrawmeat.InSaumellswords,Rousseausnoblesavageis[End
Page461]perverselyconvertedintothecomponentofanurbantribewithina1980smythology.50Suz/o/Suz,
correspondingly,containsseveralreferencestothedecadenceofcontemporaryconsumersociety:atelevisionset
thatiswheeledaroundinasupermarketstyleshoppingcartisquicklyreplacedbyahumanbeing.

TierMon,theproductionthatfollowedSuz/o/Suz,invokedamorecynical,foreboding,atmosphereinwhichLa
Furaconfrontedtheissueofpowerthroughthecreationofviolentimagesofwar,death,imprisonment,
entrapment,andexecution.Gonewastheebullientoptimismoftheirpreviouswork,onlytobereplacedwitha
notabledegreeofdisenchantment.TheBarcelonapremiereattheMercatdelesFlorsin1988wasprecededbya
pressconferenceatMontjucinwhichtheperformers,inadecidedlyBeckettiangesture,wereburieduptotheir
necksinsand,creatinganextremelyunsettlingsituationforallthoseinvolved.Theperformancespace
encompassedseveralcatwalks,largestadiumstylespotlights,highpressurehoses,sirensandalarms,allof
whichpropelledthespectatorintoadisturbing,chillinglandscapeofOrwellianovertones,whichwasalso
evocativeoftheexperienceofaconcentrationcamp.TheimmediatehistoricalreferencestoSpainsnotso
distantauthoritarianpastwereevident.ThesearchforessentialoriginswasportrayedinTierMonintermsofan
aestheticofdebasementthatbringstomindFranciscodeGoyasblackpaintings.Inoneofthekeysequences,
sixperformerswerehousedinacellblockofwoodencrates.Agrotesquemetamorphosisconvertedthem
intoswinelikeanimalswhowerefedscrapsandrefuse.Motivatedexclusivelybyprimalurges,theirexistence
wasreducedtothemostprosaicandnaturalofbodilyactivities:eating,masticating,spitting.Thescaffolding
situatedabovetheboxeswaseventuallyignited,creatingapotentimageofdestruction.WithTierMon,LaFura
hadreachedtheendoftheirfirsttrilogy.
Beginningin1990,withtheproductionofNoun,theincorporationoffemaleperformersintothecompanywas
onechangethatwouldorientLaFurainnewdirections.Also,withNoun,theirworkbegantoquestion
outwardlytheillusory,mythic,andidealisticassumptionssurroundingtheirquestforauthenticity.Thetitle,an
appropriationofanancientEgyptianterm,referstotheprimordialwatersthatgavewaytotheoriginofthe
universeandtheriverNile,thefundamentalamorphousstateofchaosthatexistedpriortotheconstructionof
systemsofrepresentationandsignification.51Nounistheinitialmagma,purepresentationwithoutanyadded
layersofmeaning,withoutduplicity;justpristinewaterthatisevocativeofadesiretouncoveranauthenticstate
ofbeing.

Clickforlargerview
Viewfullresolution
Figure2.

ImagefromNoun.ReproducedwithpermissionofLaFuradelsBaus.

ThesetdesignforNounincludedanenormoussquareofscaffolding,suspendedhighabovetheheadsofthe
spectators,whoremainedbelowandmovedaboutfreely.Theprimordialstateofdisorderwasconceived
accordingtoacyberneticlogic,embodiedintheimageofagiantmachine(recycledmaterials,scaffolding,video
screens).Thespectatorswitnessedthebirthofmaleandfemaleperformerswhoemergedfromgiantplacentae
thathoveredaboveandspewedtheaudiencewithwaterandfoam.Theyweredepictedashavingbeenborninto
afuturisticdomainthatwassointellectuallyandtechnologicallysophisticatedthattheprocessofgenesis,in
[EndPage463]thebiblicalsense,appearedtohavecomefullcircleor,perhaps,tohavebeeninverted.La
FuradelsBauscreatedafictional,butseeminglyplausible,realmwherehumanbeingsdidnotinvent
technology;rather,machineswereendowedwiththeabilitytoconceivehumanlife.Astheperformance
evolved,Nounbecameagiantlifegivingandbreathingmachine,asacreddeitytowhomsacrificesweremade
beneaththedivineelectroniceyesofvideoscreens(fig.2).Technologywasdepictedasasymbioticinterface
thatmediatesbetweenlifeanddeath,betweenbeingandnonbeing.WhereasinAccions,thehumansubject
corporealizedtheprocessofcreation,inNoun,thatprocesswasembodiedinthemachine.Inthelatterpiece,the
subjectsrapportwiththeworldwasshowntobeinconceivablewithouttheinterventionoftechnology.By
manipulatingconventionallyacceptedideasofgenesisandcreation,LaFuradelsBaussubmergedthenotionof
authenticitywithinlayersofmachinery,wherethedestiniesoftechnologyandthehumanbeingseemed
inescapablyentangled.

M.T.M
WithLaFurasfifthgrandscaleproduction,bearingtheinfinitelypolysemoustitleM.T.M.,thesearchfor
essentialoriginsreachesapointofculminationastheyattempttoexposethepoliticsbehindtheaestheticsof
representation.LaFurascriticalviewisintricatelytiedtothesamedesireforimmediacyandauthenticity
expressedinearlierworks;yetthisspectaclealsoseemstodeliveramessagethatdeconstructsthemythology
ofpresence.52LaFuradelsBaususesitsownaspirationfortheauthentic[EndPage464]inordertodispelthe
mythsthatsurroundthisverynotion,therebyshowingusthattherealisanimpossibility,forevercondemnedto
existenceasamereillusion.WhileNounadvocatedasymbioticrelationshipbetweenman,woman,andthe
technologicallandscape,M.T.M.expressesalackoffaithinthecredibilityofallmediatedandmediatizedforms
ofcommunication.

Intakingupthisissueofauthenticity,LaFuraconfrontthespectatorwiththegameofrepresentation,
manipulationanddeceptionthatisoftenattributedtothecultureofthemassmedia.Thegroupsearlier
mockeriesofthepressarethustakenonestepfurther,inthatthethemeofthemediaisselfconsciously
incorporatedwithintheperformance,occupyingtheroleofbothformandcontent.InM.T.M.,LaFuradelsBaus
attemptstocapturethesensationoflivinginapostmodernschizophrenicworldasitforcestheaudienceto
navigateaninfinitelyalterabletheatricalspace,whererealityisconvertedthroughtechnologicalmediationintoa
perpetualflowandsubstitutionofimages.M.T.M.therebyengagesthespectatorinanexplorationofthe
ontologicalandaestheticconsequencesposedbyourexistencewithinatechnologicalculture,inwhich
postmodernfascinationwiththeplainlyvisiblesignificantlyaltersourrapportwithreality. 53

M.T.M.premieredinLisbonin1994.InJulyofthatyear,itwasstagedjustoutsideofBarcelonaatthe
PoliesportiuMunicipaldeBsquetdeLHospitaletdeLlobregat(amunicipalsportscenter),anditistherethatI
wasabletoseeor,moreaptlyput,participateinLaFurasspectacle.Inshapingtheoriginalpremiseof
M.T.M.,LaFuradelsBausenlistedthecollaborationofveneratedSpanishplaywrightandcriticAlfonsoSastre.
(Sastreisknownforhispolemicalandpoliticallycommittedtheatreofprotestandsocialagitation,whichserved
asavehicleforhiscritiquesoftheFrancoregime.)LaFuraprovidedhimwithaprcisandaskedhimtowritea
seriesofcorrespondingdialogues,whichintheend,becauseofstylisticdilemmas,wereonlybrieflyintegrated
intothefinalproduct.

Regardless,theunlikelyalliancebetweenthesecontrastinggenerationsfromSpainscontemporarytheatrescene
provedtobearatherfruitfulendeavor,inthatitwasSastrewhoinspiredLaFuratocreateaplaybillforM.T.M.
thatwouldtaketheformofapressdossierandwouldprovidetheaudiencewitha(counterfeit)journalisticview
ofthespectaclethattheyhadwitnessed.Thefinalversionofthisplaybill/pressdossierresemblesanewspaper
andcontainsmaterialwrittenbytroupemembers,aswellasaseriesofunrecognizableandrecognizablenames:
obscureauthoritiesfromtheinternationalscientificcommunity(suchasCatalanbiologistRamonGuardans),
theatrecritics(suchasEduardoHaroTecglenoftheMadriddailyElPas),andplaywrights(suchasSastre
himself).Inmycopyofthedossier,whichIpurchasedfor1000pesetas(approximatelyninedollars),Iamable
tocountnolessthanthirtyfourarticlesappearinginatleastsevenlanguages.Sinceitwouldbevirtually
impossibletoreadthroughthisentiremagnumopuspriortothecommencementoftheperformance,thedossier
itselfcanbeviewedasaworkofart,masqueradingasthetruth,whichtakesonalifeofitsown,anartifactof
thecultureofthemassmediathatcanbeassimilatedandconsumedbythespectatorbothpriortoandafter
havingattendedthe[EndPage465]spectacle.Thedossierthusservesanironicfunction:ontheonehand,in
keepingwithmosttheatreplaybills,itexplainsandelucidatessomeofthemajorthemespresentinM.T.M.Yet,
ironically,afterhavingattendedLaFurasperformance,theaudiencewillalreadyknowthattheycannottrust
whatisontheprintedpage.Theimplicitintentionisthattheywillhavebeenjarredintoapositionofskepticism
withregardtoanyinformationthatistransmittedthroughamediatedormediatizedformofcommunication,
suchasanewspaper.Inelaboratingitscritique,therefore,thedossierappropriatesinatypicallypostmodern
fashion,asdoesthespectacleitself,theverysamemediumthatitiscritiquing.Itdisturbsthedistinctionbetween
whatisactualcircumstanceandwhatisanillusoryworkofart.

M.T.M.containsnonarrativeplotintheconventionalsense,buttheplaybilldoesdelineatetheninemajor
sectionsthatcomprisethespectacle.First,thereisaprelude,titledInitialMagma,whichparodiesthesituation
ofadiscothque.Thepreludeisfollowedbythreemainjocs(acts)whichintroduceaseriesofarchetypal
figuresascientist,amother,twotwins,anempress,anartist,arichmanthat,arecuriouslyreminiscentof
PedroCalderndelaBarcasseventeenthcenturyautosacramental(mysteryplay)titledElgranteatrodel
mundo(TheGreatTheatreoftheWorld).Eachofthethreeactsallegorizestheconstructionofasacred
institution,totem,orhegemonicpower(symbolized,forexample,bythepyramidaltarthatisconstructedand
demolishedduringthesecondact).Betweenacts,thespectatorisforcedintonegotiatingfourcataclysmic
sequenceschaos,anearthquake,aplague,andawareachofwhichinvokesakindoflevelingand
apocalypticdestructionofthepreviouslyestablishedpowerstructure.Finally,anepilogue,titledMemory,
returnstothediscothqueformatandoffersavideoreprisalofwhataresupposedlythemostimportantscenes
intheperformance.Duringthisepilogue,afinalcryinCatalan(anexplosionofcollectiveconsciousness)is
flashedontothevideoscreen,whichsays:Noemllanceumsmerdaasobre(literally,Dontthrowanymore
shitonme).Iwillreturntothispointlater.

Despitetheninepartformat,theprecisetemporalandspatiallimitsofM.T.M.areneverclearlydelineatedfor
theaudience.Duringtheopeningprelude/discothquesequence,ahighlyrhythmic,gutwrenchingmusicplays
asthespectatorsfileintothepavilionandmillaboutrandomlyinthedarkness.Graduallytheyareableto
familiarizethemselveswiththearchitectureoftheperformancespace,whichisneutralandinfinitelymodifiable.
Atoneendoftheroom,thereisahugevideoscreen.Attheoppositeendofthespace,thereisalargeplatform
containinganimpressiveassortmentoflightingequipment,projectors,soundsystems,synthesizers,video
cameras.Liningthewallsare150genericcardboardboxes,80cubiccentimeterseach.
Thediscosequencecontinuesforaseeminglyendlesslengthoftime,andduringthisperiod,thespectatorsare
abletomoveaboutfreelywiththerhythmofthemusicastheycontemplateaseriesofkaleidoscopicimagesthat
unfoldacrossthevideoscreen.ThemembersofLaFuradelsBaushavenotyetmadethemselvesvisible,soup
untilthispoint,theonlyperformersinM.T.M.arethespectatorsthemselves.Inthismanner,theconventional
hierarchyoftheatricalrepresentationappearsatfirstglancetoberadicallyproblematized.Thetraditional
spatiotemporalgapthatisregularlyestablishedbetweenactor,spectator,andtheatreeventhasbeenerased.The
spectatorslivebodies,itwouldseem,constitutethetheatreevent;theirimmediatepresenceisthetheatreevent,
andtheactionsofthesespectatorperformersappeartobefree,[EndPage466]unscripted,andunauthorized
conditionsthatsituatethembeyondtheauthoritativelimitsoftheatricalrepresentation.Gradually,thisinitial
situation,whichostensiblydeniesrepetition,isrevealedtobeanillusion,andevenaruse.Itis,infact,a
preordainedscriptedperformancethatispartofalargergameofdeception,andthespectatorsaremerelypawns
inthisgame.Foralthoughtheyappeartobemovingaboutfreelyandarbitrarily,theyareineffectrepresenting
eveniftheymaynotbetheleastbitconsciousofthisfact.Theirperformanceinthediscothquecreatesan
allegoricalrenderingoftheworldinitsprimordialamorphousstate,priortothefabricationofsociocultural
order.LiketheprimitivewatersofNoun,thediscothqueofM.T.M.isevocativeofadesiretouncoveranon
excremental,authenticstateofbeing.AnanonymouseditorialpublishedinLaFurasplaybill/pressdossier
furtherdelineatesthemetaphoricfunctionofthissocalleddiscotecainfinita:

Supposethemassofhumanitywereaneffervescenthumusevolvinginalldirectionsinanamebicmovement,
fromwhereindividualstoriesandhistoriesemergeasifunshelled,theinstantaneousflashesofunique,but
alreadyold,dramas:theyarethestoriesbelongingtotheindistinctmassthat,throughmereconcrete
presentation,becomesstrangeandalien.Inthebeginning,then,itisanindefinitespaceinwhichthenever
endingprocessofchangegiveswaytoanaccumulationoflayersandlayersofhumanity.54

Afterseveralminutesofdiscoplay,therulesofthegameareprojectedontothevideoscreen:1)move
forwardtomakewayfortheotherswhohaveyettoenterthespace,2)dance,andmostimportantly,3)donot
touchtheboxes.Forthespectatorperformers,theseseeminglybenignrulesrepresentthebeginningofan
unnervinggameofdeceptionthatwillsetouttomanipulatetheirexpectationsinaninfinitevarietyofways
visually,acoustically,physically,mentally,andspiritually.Momentslater,inanunanticipatedcataclysmic
sequence,thecardboardboxesbegintotumble,shake,andstir.Emergingoutofthedarkness,severalperformers
dressedinworkmansjumpsuitshurlthemselvesandtheboxesintotheaudience,disruptinganderuptingupon
whatwasonceaplacid,undifferentiatedspace.Deliriouscriesareheard,evocativeofcollectivehysteria.The
spectatorsarepushedandshoved(eventrampledupon)inachaoticmayhemastheboxesarepropelledina
varietyofdirections.Nodifferentiationismadebetweenboxandspectator;botharemanipulatedatthesame
level.

Asamemberoftheaudience,onehasthesensationthatonesentireworldiscavingin.Fortheaudience,the
spectacleisconvertedintoanintenselyreal,undeniablypresentexperience,whoseheightenedlevelof
immediacycanbecomparedtothetypeoffreneticgratuitousnessthatArtaudassociateswithboththetheatre
andtheplague.55Thiscollectivedramaisalsosymptomaticofatechniqueofmanipulationcommonlyemployed
byLaFuradelsBaus,whichDeLaTorredescribesasanefecteascensor(elevatoreffect).Itisasupposed
syndromethatplungestheaudienceintoanawkwardsituationcomparabletotherelationshipbetweenagroup
ofstrangerswhoaretrappedtogetherinanelevator,asituationthatimpliesabreachofonesintimacyand
bodilyspace,aswellasanunexpectedrelationshipofmandatorycomplicity.DeLaTorrecomments:The
audience,uponfeelingthatitsspacehasbeeninvadedbytheactors,backsawayand,inbackingaway,enters
intophysicalcontact[EndPage467]withstrangers.Confrontedwiththissurprise,thespectatorseeksrefugein
theembraceofafamiliarfriendorescortbut,becauseofthemovementofthegroup,iscompelledtowardthe
embraceofastranger,andeventotrespassuponthepersonalspaceofsomeoneheorshehasnevermet.56

InM.T.M.,thiselevatoreffectisprimarilyachievedthroughthemovementoftheboxesduringthefour
cataclysmicepisodes.Thesebuildingblocksofcreationareusedtoconstructaseriesofmonolithicformations
suchaswalls,fortressesandpyramidswhichinturnserveasemblemsofpolitical,religious,andeconomic
order.Thespectatorsaremanipulatedaroundthespaceinordertomakewayforthesemonuments.Thus,with
theelevatoreffect,LaFuradelsBausisabletousethespectatorstounderscorethewayinwhichauthoritative
institutionsregularlydrawtheirstrengthfromthemanipulationofthesocalledmasses.
Yet,beforelong,thesefragileimagesofauthorityaswellasallformsofcommunication,theatricaland
otherwisefallbeneathasubjectiveandillusorylight.Asthespectatorscontemplatethecyclicalriseandfallof
powerthatistakingplacearoundthem,LaFuradelsBausbombardsthemwithavisuallyexhaustingwhirlwind
ofvideoimages.Ingeneraltheseimagesfallintotwomajorcategories:readymadeimagesthatareconceiveda
prioriandimagesthatareconceivedduringtheactualperformance.Theproblemthatisthusposedforthe
spectatoristhatofdecipheringwhichimagesfallintowhichcategory.Allsenseofspace,time,andobjective
realityisalteredthroughtheuseofthevideocameraandvideoprojections.Videocreatesadeceitfulsystemof
irony,whichplacesintoquestiontheaudiencespowerofexegesisnotonlywithregardtotheeventsthatthey
arewitnessingvisually;butalsothosetheyareexperiencingphysicallythroughtheirownbodilypresenceas
spectatorswhohavetakenontheroleofperformers.

Thespectatorscontemplatetheriseandfallofpowerthatistakingplacearoundthem,asituationwhose
existenceisdependentupontheirimmediatephysicalpresenceandparticipation.Atthesametime,Hansel,
oneoftheperformers,roamsaboutthespacewithavideocamerainhand,leadingtheaudiencetobelievethat
heissimultaneouslytransmittingtothevideoscreentheverysameeventsthattheyarewitnessing.Asa
spectator,oneisevenapttosearchforanimageofoneselfonthescreen.Hanselsubiquitouspresencecreates,
inthismanner,ascenariowherebythespectatorisofferedmultipleperspectivesofasingleeventconditions
thatarenotunlikeoureverydayexperiencewiththecultureofthemassmedia.However,Hanselsvideoversion
oftheeventsdoesnotalwayscoincidewiththespectatorspointofview,plantingdoubtsinthemindsof
audiencemembers.Thespectatorsaresimultaneouslyofferedbothpresentationandrepresentation,theactual
andthevirtual,purepresenceandmediatizedpresence;buttheirexperienceintheperformancespaceissuch
thattheyareunabletodistinguishbetweenthetwo,unabletoconfirmtheauthenticityofanythingthattheyare
seeingorexperiencinglive.

Clickforlargerview
Viewfullresolution
Figure3.

ImagefromM.T.M.ReproducedwithpermissionofLaFuradelsBaus.

Adramaticexampleofthisproblematicoccursduringthesecondact,inwhichtheaudiencewitnessesthebirth
offemaletwinswho,inamannerreminiscentoftheplacentaeofNoun,emergefromasetofcardboardboxes
thatdangleabovethespace.Onetwinhangsinaninvertedposition,whiletheotherisrightsideup(fig.3).Itis
a[EndPage468]tableauthatallegorizestheduplicitousrelationshipbetweentheaudienceandwhattheyare
seeing.Truth/fantasy,thereal/themediatedthemetaphoriccorrespondencesareinfinite.Becausethetwinsare
identical,itisunclearwhetherornotthetruthwillprevailinthisdoublesidedsystem.Theaudiencewitnesses,
inthepresent,theactualdeathofonetwin,whoismutilatedbytheother.Hanselappearswithhisvideo
camera,andhisgesturesindicatethatheissimultaneouslytransmittingalive,closeupversionofthetwins
death.Onthescreen,thespectatorseeswhatissupposedlyHanselsversionoftheevent:adisturbingbloody
imageofthedeadtwinsmutilatedmouth.However,thisversiondoesnotquitecoincidewiththeaudiences
perspectiveoftheeventsthataretakingplace,eventsthattheymayhaveempiricallyunderstoodtobereality.
Thereisnoblood,exceptonthescreeninthecloseupmediatizedversion.Thespectator,consequently,is
plungedintoanimagisticlabyrinthofferingaparadeofimagesthatpretendtoberealorthatpretendtobe
morerealthanrealityitself.

Anadditionalexampleofthissituationoccursduringthethirdact,inwhichLaFuradelsBauscreatesanironic
parodyofthewayinwhichthemediatransmitnewsandinformation,andoftheaestheticprocessofinvention
wherebyanationcanfabricateanimageofitselfandprojectittotherestoftheworld.Agiantwallofboxesis
swiftlyerected,completelydividingthespace(theworld)andthemassofspectatorsintotwoseparatecrowds.
Thescreensandvideocamerasarepositionedsoastocreateakindofaestheticdilemmawherebythespectators
areledtobelievethattheimagesprojectedontheirscreenthatis,ontheirownsideofthewallarefaithful
representationsofwhatisoccurringontheotherside.Imagesofdeathanddestruction[EndPage469]
correspondtooneside,whileitappearsthatontheotherside,ajoyfulBraziliancarnivalistakingplace.The
tableaucarriesspecialresonancewithinthecontextofmodernSpain,where,in1962,thepropagandisticsaims
oftheFrancoregimemotivatedManuelFragaIribarne,formerMinisterofInformationandTourism,toenlistthe
helpofaNorthAmericanadvertisingagencyinanattempttoimprovehisnationsimage.

IntheperformanceofM.T.M.,LaFuradelsBauscreateanaestheticizedversionofrealitybyappropriatingthe
baroqueconceptionofteatrummundi,suchasthatwhichCalderncreatedinhisautosacramental.The
allegoricalentitiesthatcorrespondtoCaldernsauto(aking,apauper,arichman,achild)andthoseofM.T.M.
(ascientist,amother,arichman,anempress)appeartoemergeoutofthespaceoccupiedbytheaudience,from
theundifferentiatedprimordialmassofhumanityoreffervescenthumus.AsSubiratsindicates,thisteatrum
mundiformat,whichportrayshumanexistenceasatypeofspectacle,transformstherelationshipbetweenreality
andillusion:thetheatricalizedrenditionoftheworldistakentobeontologicallysuperiortothereal;itsimulates
andreplacesthereal.57Theautos,asaresult,wereeasilyadaptedtothepropagandisticintentionsoftheSpanish
crownandtheCatholicCounterreformation.Theysuperimposeduponthetheatreaudiencethesame
characteristicsofcollectiveidentitythatareassociatedwithareligiousmass.

Inaparallelsense,theelectronicmediainM.T.M.positanewtypeofinvisible,intangible,facelessaudience
whoseexistenceisonlyinsinuatedbythepresenceofthistechnology.Theaudienceisbesiegedandsurrounded;
itexistsonlyinavirtualtimeandspace,historicallyneutralized,decontextualized,anddivorcedfromreality.
Passivecollectivityreplacesindividualidentitysincethegazethespectatordirectstowardthescreenisneither
acknowledgednoranswered.WhenconfrontedwithM.T.M.sfragmentedcollageaestheticofdecontextualized
andrecycledimages,thespectatorsfacultiesofcognitionandperceptionaredramaticallytransformed.Rather
thanfacilitatecommunication,theeffectofthistechnologicalbombardmentisacollapseofmeaning.

Theaudiencesrapportwiththisspectacularworldbecomesapurelyaestheticexperience,pointingtoapotential
destructionofhistoricalmemoryandthecreationofwhatSubiratscallsamediactictotalitarianism. 58
Baudrillardremindsus,too,thatitisnowimpossibletoisolatetheprocessofthereal,ortoprovethereal.59
M.T.M.appearstoechothisconcernwhenitexaminesthisproblematicwithinthecontextofthemassmedia.In
theparticularcaseofSpain,intherealmoffilmandmediaculture(asintherealmoftheatre),alargedegreeof
disenchantmentwiththedominantsystemhaspersistedsincethetimeofFrancosdeath.Ifitistruethatthe
censorshipcodesofthedictatorshipnolongerexist,stateandregionalgovernmentsstillhavemanagedto
maintainasurprisinglylargemeasureofcontroloverwhatSpanishcitizensseeandhearontheradio,television,
stage,andscreen.Spaniardstypicallyapproachthesemediawithextremeskepticism.AsMonterorecounts:
[EndPage470]

Inthemedia,thechangefromdictatorshiptodemocracyislessofasuccessstory.Televisionremainedastate
monopoly,asithadunderFranco,untiltheearly1990swhenprivatechannelswerefranchised.Thetwo
continuingpublicsectorchannels,despitethefactthatallpoliticaltendenciesarerepresentedontheirgoverning
body,inpracticearestilltoodependentonthegovernment;whilethenewprivatetelevisioncompanieshaveled
toashockingloweringofstandards.60

Spanishfilm,theatre,andtelevisionproducersarefrequentlyforcedtodependupontheavailabilityofpublic
subsidies,forlackofprivatesponsorship.ImbeddedinM.T.M.isanironiccritiqueofgoverningbodies,atthe
leveloftheSpanishstateandattheregionallevel,thatareinevitablypositionedtousetheirpoliticalpowerasa
wayofauthorizingtheirownpropagandisticversionsofthetruth.AsMonteropointsout,Spain,notunlikethe
UnitedStatesandotherpartsoftheworld,hasalsowitnessedthecreationofgiantmediaconglomeratesthatare
perilouslyclosetomonopolizingthediffusionofinformationviaradio,television,andthepress.

Theconceptsofofficial/nationalcultureandofficialhistorymayberemnantsofSpainsFrancoera,but
theyhaveyettobethoroughlynegotiatedandcontested.Thesocalledtejerazoof23February1981,inwhicha
veryrealhistoricalbattlebetweenfascismanddemocracywasaestheticallycapturedontelevisionscreensand
projectedaroundtheworld,wasneitherthebeginningnortheendofwhatisalsoanallegoricalbattlebetween
authenticityandillusion.InpostFranco,democraticSpain,stateandregionalgovernments,themedia,andthe
artscontinuallyexploitthepostmoderncapacityforthereproductionandrecyclingofimagesintheirtreatment
ofissuesofnationalandculturalidentity.Theircontrived,aestheticizedversionsofrealitycreatean
overabundantflowofimagesthatarecontinuallyprojected,accepted,rejected,and/orsubverted.
InM.T.M.,therelationshipbetweenwhatisliveandwhatreproducediscompletelyjeopardized,andLaFura
delsBaussgreattheatreoftheworldisrevealedtobenotanallegoricalspaceofessentialarchetypes;but
rather,aplacethatcanonlycreateahallucinationofthetruth.Theproductionofpurepresenceisshowntobeno
moreauthenticandpristinethanthemediated,mediatized,andtheatricalizedversionsofthetruththatweare
offered.Itis,perhaps,herethatonecanlookformeaninginthefinalcrythatLaFuradelsBauslancesintothis
darklabyrinthofdeceit.Inaonceemptyspace,which,unlikethatofAccions,isnowsteepedinlayersof
excrementalversionsofthetruth,thephraseNoemllanceumsmerdaasobreisanevocationofexhaustion
andacryforauthenticity.

InthispostmodernSpanishlandscape,asinotherpartsoftheworld,collectiveconsciousnessandhistorical
memorycanindeedbeconceivedas,orconfusedwith,aestheticperformance.Thiscrisisofdistinctions,
combinedwithaneverpresentfearofmonopolizationandmanipulationofinformation,arewhatmotivatesLa
Furassearchforauthenticity.Consequently,M.T.M.isaworkwhoseconfrontationwiththemassmediamarks
notonlytheculmination;butalsofailure,ofthisimplicitaspiration.AsBlauattests,theaspirationtothe
authenticisanimpossibility,amythicalnotion,for[t]hereisnothingmoreillusoryinperformancethanthe
illusion[EndPage471]oftheunmediated.61Itisanobservationthatisequallyapplicabletothespectacular
contemporaryworld.Themoretherealbecomesdisplaced,themorewewanttorecoverasemblanceofits
presence.DuringaperiodinSpainshistoryinwhichindeterminacyandcynicismarethenorm,andthetruth
andtherealrevealthemselvesonlyduringfleetingmoments,LaFurascryforauthenticityisperhapsmore
timelythanever.

SharonG.Feldman

SharonG.FeldmanisAssociateProfessorofSpanishattheUniversityofKansas.SheistheauthorofAllegories
ofDissent:TheTheaterofAgustnGmezArcosandtranslatorofplaysbySergiBelbelandJosepM.Beneti
Jornet.SherecentlyeditedaspecialissueofEstrenoonCatalandrama.

Footnotes
1.PartialfundingforthisessaywasprovidedbygrantsfromtheInstitutdEstudisCatalans(Departamentde
Cultura,GeneralitatdeCatalunya),theGeneralResearchFundoftheUniversityofKansas,andtheHallCenter
fortheHumanities.IwishtoexpressmyappreciationtoPabloLey,RicardSalvat,andLaFuradelsBaus
(especiallyMikiEspuma)forsharingwithmetheirthoughtsonthecompanyscreativeendeavors.

2.Nosunfenomensocial,nosungrup,nosuncollectiupoltic,nosuncercledamistatsafins,nosuna
associaciproalgunacausa....Produeixteatremitjanantlaconstantinterfernciadintuicims
investigaci...Experimentaenviu.Cadaaccirepresentaunexerciciprctic,unaactuaciagressivacontrala
passivitatdelespectador,unaintervencidimpactepertaldalterarlasevarelaciamblespectacle.LaFura
delsBaus,ElManifestCanalla,quotedinFrancescA.Cerezo,AccionsiLaFuradelsBaus,Estudis
Escnics28(1989):61.Thequotationispartofthemanifestothatappearedinaplaybilldistributedatseveral
performancesofAccions(198384).(Alltranslationsaremyown.)

3.Programnotes,Accions,1983,quotedinMercSaumell,PerformanceGroupsinCatalonia,in
ContemporaryCatalanTheatre:AnIntroduction,ed.DavidGeorgeandJohnLondon,AngloCatalanSociety
OccasionalPublications9(Sheffield:AngloCatalanSociety,1996),119.Cerezo(Accions)andBimMason
(StreetTheatreandOtherOutdoorPerformance[London:Routledge,1992],11922)offeradditional
descriptiveaccountsofAccions.

4.AntoniTpies,bornin1923andoneofthiscenturysmostprominentCatalanartists,begancreatinghis
matterpaintingsin1955.LargelyinfluencedbytheworkofMaxErnst,PaulKlee,JacksonPollockandMichel
Tapi,aswellasCatalansAntoniGaudandJoanMir,thematterpaintingspropelledTpiesintotheforefront
oftheSpanishandEuropeanavantgardemovementsofthe1950sand1960s.
5.MyemploymentofthetermpresenceisconsonantwithPhilipAuslandersdiscussioninPresenceand
Resistance:PostmodernismandCulturalPoliticsinContemporaryAmericanPerformance(AnnArbor:
UniversityofMichiganPress,1994).AccordingtoAuslander,Intheatricalparlance,presenceusuallyrefers
eithertotherelationshipbetweenactorandaudiencetheactorasmanifestationbeforeanaudienceor,more
specifically,totheactorspsychophysicalattractivenesstotheaudience,aconceptrelatedtothatofcharisma
(37).

6.Saumell,PerformanceGroups,119.Actionisatermfrequentlyemployedinreferencetothe1960s
performanceartofPollockandKleinaswellastoHappeningsingeneral.

7.PereSalabert,Epifanasdeloespeluznante,CuadernosElPblico34(1988):8.

8.SeeHerbertBlau,ToAllAppearances:IdeologyandPerformance(NewYork:Routledge,1992),11.

9.Accionswasseenbyapproximately76,000spectatorsandwasperformedatotalof143times(anequal
numberofautomobilesweresmashed).SeeGozaloPrezdeOlaguer,Nuevoespectculodelosautoresde
M.T.M.,ElPeridicodeCatalunya,1December1996,espectculos,Internetedition.

10.ManytelevisionspectatorsstillrecallLaFuraspresentationofMarMediterrania(MediterraneanSea)at
theopeningceremonyofthe1992OlympicGamesinBarcelona.Theperformance,featuringmusicbyJapanese
composerRyuichiSakamoto,presentedanallegoricalbattleinwhichagiantphantasmagorichydraengagedina
struggleagainstprogressandcivilization(Saumell,PerformanceGroupsinCatalonia,12223).LaFuras
participationinJune1996intheannualGranadaFestivalofMusicandDancemarkedthebeginningoftheir
experimentationswithopera.InfrontofGranadasbaroquecathedral,theystagedacontemporaryinterpretation
ofManueldeFallasseldomperformedoperaticpoemAtlntida(1927).Morethantwohundredperformers,
singers,andmusiciansintervenedinthisproductionwhichusedcomputerizedprojectionsandvideoimages
intendedtoconjurefortheaudiencethesensationofbeingimmersedintheseaamongthelostcivilizationof
Atlantis.LaFurapresenteditssecondoperaticproduction,ClaudeDebussyandGabrieldAnnunzios
MartyrdomofSt.Sebastian,in1997withSpanishpopsingerMiguelBosinoneoftheleadroles.Thecompany
isscheduledtopremiereitsversionofHectorBerliozsTheDamnationofFaustattheSalzburgFestivalin1999
withthecollaborationofCatalansculptorJaumePlensa.

11.SeeJacquesDerrida,TheTheaterofCrueltyandtheClosureofRepresentation,inWritingandDifference,
ed.,intro.,andtrans.AlanBass(Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress,1978),23250,andLaparolesoufle
inWritingandDifference,16995.

12.ReferringtothebasicfeaturesofanyHappening,MichaelKirbyemploysthetermnonmatrixed
performingtodescribeperformanceswheretheactordoesnotcreateorprojectanartificialcontextof
personality.SeeHappenings:AnIntroduction,inHappeningsandOtherActs,ed.MariellenR.Sanford(New
York:Routledge,1955),7.

13.Epifanis,58.

14.TheEctasyofCommunication,inTheAntiAesthetic:EssaysonPostmodernCulture,ed.HalFoster
(Seattle:BayPress,1983),130.

15.ThePresenceofMediation,TDR34.4(1990):33.

16.TheoriesoftheTheatre(Ithaca:CornellUniversityPress,1993),514.

17.TheEyeofPrey:SubversionsofthePostmodern(Bloomington:IndianaUniversityPress,1989),171.

18.Ibid.,170.
19.BodiedSpaces:PhenomenologyandPerformanceinContemporaryDrama(Ithaca:CornellUniversity
Press,1994),42.

20.OneofthemostcomprehensivesourcesofinformationdocumentingSpainsindependenttheatremovement
isAlbertoFernndezTorres,ed.,Documentossobreelteatroindependienteespaol(Madrid:Ministeriode
Cultura/CentroNacionaldeNuevasTendenciasEscnicas,1987).

21.CatalanTheatricalLife(19391994),inContemporaryCatalanTheatre:AnIntroduction,ed.John
LondonandDavidGeorge,1942.

22.SeeEugenevanErvenforadiscussionoftheMinistryofInformationandTourismslawregulatingnon
commercialtheatreactivities,RadicalPeoplesTheatre(Bloomington:IndianaUniversityPress,1988),14647.

23.Galln,CatalanTheatricalLife,23.

24.DavidGeorgeandJohnLondonofferdetaileddescriptionsofBrossasworksinAvantGardeDrama,in
ContemporaryCatalanTheatre:AnIntroduction,7383.

25.Ibid.,81.

26.OnSpanishtheatreinthistransitionalperiod,seeFranciscoRuizRamn,Delteatroespaoldelatransicin
alatransicindelteatro(19751985)inLaculturaespaolaenelposfranquismo:Diezaosdecine,culturay
literaturaenEspaa(19751985),ed.SamuelAmellandSalvadorGarcaCastaeda(Madrid:Playor,1988),
10313.

27.In1977,theprohibitionofElJoglarssspectacleLatornaledtotheincarcerationofseveralcompany
members,convertingthemintoheroicemblemsofthebattleforfreedomofexpressionduringthedemocratic
transition.

28.Elteatrodefindemilenio(Barcelona:Ariel,1996),114.

29.1979wastheyearactor/directorJosepMariaFlotatsfirstapproachedthePresidentoftheGeneralitatde
Catalunya,JordiPujol,andhisthenMinisterofCulture,MaxCahner,andproposedtheideaofcreatinga
NationalTheatreofCatalonia.SeeJosepMariaFlotats,Unprojecteperalteatrenacional(Barcelona:Edicions
delaRevistadeCatalunya,1989).

30.PoliticalTransitionandCulturalDemocracy:CopingwiththeSpeedofChangeinSpanishCultural
Studies:AnIntroduction,ed.HelenGrahamandJoLabanyi(Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress,1995),319.

31.SeeHelenGrahamandJoLabanyi,DemocracyandEuropeanization:ContinuityandChange19751992:
EditorsIntroductioninSpanishCulturalStudies:AnIntroduction,312.

32.SeeEmmaDentCoad,DesignerCultureinthe1980s:ThePriceofSuccessinSpanishCulturalStudies:
AnIntroduction,37680.AccordingtoDentCoad,thetermmovidawasaninventionofoneofthehundredsof
foreignstylejournalists(377).

33.SomecentralculturaliconsassociatedwiththemovidastyleincludefilmmakerPedroAlmodvarandhis
coterieofactors;fashiondesignersAdolfoDomnguez,Sybilla,andAgathaRuizdelaPrada;musicalgroupsLa
Unin,RadioFutura,andAlaskaylosPegamoides;painterGuillermoPrezVillalta;playwrightsFermnCabal
andJoseLuisAlonsodeSantos;andBarcelonaarchitects/designersFernandoAmatandJavierMariscal.

34.OnLaFurasexperienceinMadrid,seeAlbertdelaTorre,LaFuradelsBaus(Barcelona:AlterPiene,
1992),5556.

35.Cronologa,CuadernosElPublico34(1988):19.
36.LaFuradelsBaus,2728.

37.LaFurasrecentoperaticproductions,aswellastheirrecreationofGoethesdramaticpoemwhichtheytitle
F@ustversio3.0[reviewedinthisissueofTheatreJournal,ed.],representthecompanysonlyexperiments
withaprosceniumarchstagedesign.

38.TheTheatreofCruelty,asArtauddescribed,proposestoresorttoamassspectacle;toseekintheagitation
oftremendousmasses,convulsedandhurledagainsteachother,alittleofthatpoetryoffestivalsandcrowds
when,alltoorarelynowadays,thepeoplepouroutintothestreets,TheTheateranditsDouble(NewYork:
Grove,1958),85.

39.MikiEspuma,personalinterview,6July1995.Espumaacknowledgedthatheandseveralothermembers
ofLaFurahavebeenavidreadersofArtaud.

40.AccionsiLaFuradelsBaus,62.

41.Linternamgica:Vanguardia,mediayculturatardomoderna(Madrid:Siruela,1997),189.

42.LaFuraenjoysanespeciallylargefollowinginGermany,Italy,France,Holland,Austria,Argentina,and
Brazilandhasperformedinthesecountriesoften.TheirvisitstotheUnitedStates,incontrast,havebeenmuch
lessfrequent,inpartbecauseofthedifficultiesinadaptingtheirperformancestrategiestobuildingcodesand
safetyprotocols.InJune1991,thecompanypresentedSuz/o/SuzinAstoria,Queens,andinJuly1998it
presentedF@ustversio3.0attheLincolnCenterFestival.

43.Linternamgica,123.

44.Memriapersonal(Barcelona:SeixBarral,1983),211.

45.Perunartmoderniprogressista(Barcelona:Empuries,1985),4144.

46.ThesoundtrackforNounhasbeenreleasedoncompactdisk.

47.Elnomilacosa:DeclaracionsrecollidesenunaentrevistadeFranscescBurgetArdiaca,inDeLaTorre,
LaFuradelsBaus,100.

48.EspumarecountsthestoryofmaleandfemalespectatorssoinspiredbyaperformanceofSuz/o/Suzin
Argentina,theybegantoengageinsexualintercourse(Personalinterview,6July1995).

49.PerformanceGroups,120.

50.Ibid.

51.Programnotes,Noun,1990.

52.ThetermistakenfromHenrySayresTheObjectofPerformance:AestheticsintheSeventies,Georgia
Review37.1(1983):177.

53.Onpostmodernschizophrenia,seeFredricJamesonsPostmodernismandConsumerSocietyinThe
AntiAesthetic,11125.RaymondWilliamssTelevision,TechnologyandCulturalForm(NewYork:Schoken
Books,1974)discussesthenotionofflow(95).

54.Programnotes,M.T.M.(Barcelona:LaFuradelsBaus/Escena,1994),13.

55.SeeTheTheateranditsDouble,1532.
56.LaFuradelsBaus,58.

57.Linternamgica,21216.

58.Ibid.,123,136.

59.SimulacraandSimulations,trans.SheilaFariaGlaser(AnnArbor:UniversityofMichiganPress,1994),21.

60.PoliticalTransitionandCulturalDemocracy,318.

61.UniversalsofPerformance,6465.

Copyright1998TheJohnsHopkinsUniversityPress