LOOP Barcelona and the Association of Architects of Catalonia (CoAC) present the first piece of video art in Spain, first released in 1969 at the CoAC.
Primera Mort is the title of the video made in 1969 by Jordi Galí, Àngel Jové, Silvia Gubern and Antoni Llena. Considered to be the first piece of video art in Spain, it was lost in 1987 after being exhibited at the Reina Sofia in Madrid, in the context of the first retrospective dedicated to video organized by the museum. Lost for almost thirty years, Primera mort’s tape was found again in 2010 among TV3 files, during a research process that Blanca de la Torre and I carried out on the occasion of the exhibition Video(s)torias, held at Artium (Vitoria). Despite the considerable deterioration of the video and its sound, we presented it anyway. In 2014, Primera Mort became part of the collection of the MACBA and the museum’s technical staff restored the audio in January 2017.
This fact has allowed for an entirely new reading of the video and its content. Not only can we emphasize the relevance of the relationship between image and sound, but we can also think of montage as a radical mode of audio-visual writing.
In 1969 a conference titled “Art and News” was held at the Association of Architects of Catalonia (CoAC). Artists Jordi Galí, Àngel Jové, Silvia Gubern and Antoni Llena were invited to give a lecture focusing on their aesthetic approaches, which were considered to be quite revolutionary at the time. They accepted the invitation and, without given anyone notice, decided to make a video. On the day of the symposium, they recorded many of the attendees. In the auditorium where everyone was waiting, they had placed a monitor on the conference table. Then they turned off the lights and turned on the monitor: Primera Mort was finally being shown to the public.
The piece is clearly divided into two parts, the first one taking place in the very house that the four artists shared in Barcelona (located in Clarassó street, in the area of the Maduxeir). This first part gathers together everyday moments and some gestural games that acquire a symbolic meaning, while referring to the ideas of sex, death and creation and the relationship between them. The images follow one another while their authors appear and disappear, interact with each other and let life inhabit the empty spaces. The scenes are recorded in a black room and the patio of the house. The video also features the participation of a girl, the daughter of a gypsy family that lived near the house, the son of Silvia and Jordi, and a hen.
The images are accompanied by the voice-over of Àngel Jové and William Burroughs reading fragments of the book The Naked Lunch by Burroughs, and by selected fragments from the Pink Floyd’s album Ummagumma.
The second part of the video presents the images that were recorded at the CoAC. The scene focuses on the attendees going up the stairs leading to the main conference room and is accompanied by Let it be, the renowned song by the Beatles. After viewing the video, the authors were able to identify Esther Tusquets, Salvador Clotas, Santiago Roqueta, Gonzalo Herralde, Frederic Amat, and some of their relatives.
Primera Mort is definitely a visionary piece that speaks truth to a moment in which different creative forces emerged. Although nothing apparently happens, it is quite a complex piece. Image, text and sound merge with an astonishing coherence, while they summon life, causing it to reveal itself.