The songs

A sound tour of popular
With the covers designed by FrantiSek Zelenka, the songs by Niño de Elche and much more

ExhibitionIVAM Centre Julio González

“Many of the borrowed pieces here might perhaps point in the direction of something missing, something we’re lacking – and I refer to more than just the IVAM’s Collection. A collection in many ways represents the conscious and unconscious realm of the community it is built from. Music, for instance, plays an important part in this exhibition, as in the superb musical scores by František Zelenka, or a reading of the collection and its treasures by El Niño de Elche, from the Intonarumori by Luigi Russolo to Symphony No. 1 by Glenn Branca. And is trap pop, or a commodity? Let us not call it “urban art”, a suspect category if ever one existed. But a whole community is speaking through trap. The evidence is there in the Nueve, Panamá video by Brooke Alfaro. Yet there are still people who have no voice, voices still silent. A key piece in the exhibition is the borrowed film <…-OhPERA-MUET-…>, [à la date du 23 setembre 2016], by Alejandra Riera, a film on the grand narratives of history and what is buried under its monuments, a film by those who speak from below, from the ruins. popular shows the murmurings and the silent, those who have no voice. Although that might be too loud a claim to make. We might say they appear, disappear and reappear. Perhaps these examples can give some indication of the workings of this research and how we’ve approached this exhibition”.

Pedro G. Romero


The songs (and one)

This magnificent collection of scores by Jaroslav Ježek, illustrated by the architect František Zelenka, was an opening for us to present, in some way, songs as one of the privileged spaces for the relation and emergence of the popular. Both were Jewish artists linked to the Czech avant garde; Zelenka was murdered at Auschwitz in 1945, while Ježek had died two years earlier of illness in exile in New York. The particularity of this repertoire, linked to the explosion of vernacular forms of music as a result of colonial movements in the 1920s, is exception in this respect. The popular emerges just at the point where displaced political representations fold that have based their success or symbolic potency on their necessarily subaltern position. This is the era of the slate record, and the birth of the global industrial culture later to be known as pop, or popular music.


The songs (and two)

The simplistic division between visual and musical culture has a strongly theological background to it. Reducing sound to abstract, spiritual or ritual categories without recognising it as symbolic representation, imagination and material figuration is above all the result of the totalitarian Enlightenment ordering of the world. What actually exists are continuities and relationships. Between poiesis (way of making), esthesis (way of seeing) and phonesis (way of speaking), there is always circulation. More than a specific cultural product, the popular is a result of circulation which runs through different means that can also multiply. The relationships between the writings, sounds and images selected here are based on that principle. There are avant-garde pieces, academic music, products of the cultural industry, studio experiments and street experiences, and the possibility of the popular runs through all of them.


The songs (and three)

This collection of songs by Niño de Elche with the collaboration of Xisco Rojo travels the – often blurred – limits between sound, music and the popular in song. Agustín García Calvo said that the popular qualities of a song could be measured in how likely you are to hum it in the shower. Whether through electronic dance music, spoken word, Latin diasporan music or flamenco, Niño de Elche has tried to connect some of the pieces in the IVAM collection, some of its images, with possible ways of being sung. Or hummed in the shower: be it a phrase by Juan Hidalgo or the petenera repeated by the Mexican people portrayed by Paul Strand, a fandango dedicated to Helios Gómez or the musical imprint of VALIE EXPORT’s tattoo on Rosalía. An image is also a song.




05 oct. 2023 – 14 apr. 2024
CollectionExhibitionIVAM Centre Julio González