This new session inside Intervals, a programme which screens recent film work, presents Oscuro y lucientes (Dark and Lucientes), the fourth feature by Samuel Alarcón (Madrid, 1980). The film is one of the most fascinating and original works on Francisco de Goya, articulating, through the transformation of the painter’s exhumed body, a reflection on how a society of amnesia mistreats the most illustrious among its dead.
Goya died exiled in Bordeaux in 1828, although his body was buried in the San Antonio de La Florida Chapel in Madrid in 1919. Between these two points in time are different events related to a shift in the consideration of the artist with respect to Spanish identity, romantic aesthetics and their enduring place in the origin of the idea of modern art. The painter died in exile, a clear manifestation of a cracked national project faced with the return of absolutism and the failure of Spanish Enlightenment. Thus, the repatriation of the artist’s body would be seen as a national emergency that would test – at least on the face of it – a return to normality. At the same time, Goya’s critical success would be affected by ideas residing in the 19th century – two of which would be responsible for the circumstances surrounding his burial and successive exhumations. The first, the notion of the ‘genius’ in Romanticism: the theory of the artist endowed with a spontaneous and inimitable character and temperament, its manifestation translating into unique and virtuous works. The second, the reasoning of phrenology, a common pseudoscientific doctrine in the 19th century that maintained that every individual’s mental faculties could be discerned through the shape of their skull. Therefore, the combination of both theories concluded that it was possible to measure genius, scientifically, through the study of Goya’s head.
With these aspects as the point of departure, Samuel Alarcón’s film offers an unpredictable journey through the history of Goya’s repute and Spanish identity, at a time in which the figure of the artist and the image of a modern nation were created. Oscuro y lucientes thus employs the tools of a documentary essay as it eschews fiction and historicism, speaking at once of Goya and the present, all of which combines to form one of the most original films on the artist and his posthumous life.
Samuel Alarcón (Madrid, 1980) is a film-maker and director of the programme El cine que viene (Cinema to Come) on Radio Nacional de España, which shines a light on recent audiovisual work that is both original and goes against the grain. He has also made an auspicious body of fictional and non-fictional films, gaining recognition at film festivals in Rotterdam, Toronto, Seville and Málaga. His productions include the feature films 3000 años de trabajo (2004), Octavio (2005) amd La ciudad de los signos (2008).
Samuel Alarcón. Oscuro y lucientes
Spain, France, 2018, colour, original version, digital archive, 82´
Session 1. Thursday, 6 June 2019, 7pm
With a talk by Jesusa Vega, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the Autonomous University of Madrid and a specialist in Goya and the history of art history.
Session 2. Saturday, 8 June 2019, 6pm
With a presentation by director Samuel Alarcón