Santa Sevilla

Julián Álvarez

“April 1993. Holy week in Seville. Objective: to explore the technical and narrative possibilities of the FishCam prototype in adverse mobility conditions”. Alvarez’s paradigmatic video reinterprets Seville’s processional tradition by means of videographic tools used in the recording as well as in the post-production. Sounds emanating from the processions, electroacoustic music and cante jondo are blended into the soundtrack.

Alvarez leaves the stage of Fucking Christmas (1990) to use his FishCam prototype for the third time in a public setting with a massive amount of people and mobility difficulties. Such are the conditions of Seville’s Holy week, the Semana Santa. Two different recording took place: on the one hand, there was a Betacam camera set up in balconies and roofs, which provided an objective look at the ritual on the streets; and on the other hand, there was the FishCam. This device, in addition to giving the images a very personal character, allows enough distance to get a close-up shot of the body high above, the vowed statue. The operator, Alvarez himself, was able to blend in with the public and let himself be moved around by it. His movements offer a close and intimate image of the vowed object. “To look from where the others could not look.” The videomaker thus becomes one more element of the scene, which he manipulates from a distance, looking at a reality in which his own body is implicated. Alvarez provides an exceptional point of view of the action. He subtracts the emotional element from the ritual to pass it on to the image itself. Space and image float somewhere between the agitated devotional protocol and the need for proximity to the sacred; with flash echoes in the background.

The rules of cohabitation, customs, family and group interaction, beliefs and superstitions shape the ways we think and act. In this video about Seville’s Semana Santa, references to Lorca and his book Poema del cante jondo are included. In it, Lorca describes the representations of this tradition. Santa Sevilla is a critical and at the same time enthusiastic document about Lorca’s Andalucía del llanto (crying Andalucía). We are presented with a visual and acoustic representation of a rite of popular self-identity, which takes place via exaltation and pain. The narration follows the discourse of the christian Passion, criticizing and actualizing it with kitsch elements of that same culture. The verse As de bastos. Tijeras en cruz. (Ace of clubs. Scissors in a cross.) of the same poem will provide the title for the video trilogy that unites Lorca’s, Dalí’s and Buñuel’s Semanas Santas.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Santa Sevilla
  • Direction: Julián Álvarez
  • Production: Julián Álvarez. 1993.
  • Team:

    Poems: Federico García Lorca Poema del cante jondo
    Camera: Julián Álvarez (Fishcam) - Enrique Navarro (Betacam)
    Sound & VTR: Xavier Damiá
    Production: Willy Blázquez - Julia Mazías
    Editing: Julián Álvarez - Manel Frasquiel - Sergio Basauri
    Postproduction: Harry & PaintBox: Mireia Puerto - Jaume Vilaseca - Belen Capdevila
    Music editing: Julián Álvarez

  • Duration: 00:14:05
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Original format: Betacam SP
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright