Invisible Auto Sacramental: A Sonic Representation from Val del Omar. Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid


A piece by Niño de Elche curated in collaboration with Miguel Álvarez-Fernández and Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco (script, historical contextualization, architectural design)

Installation at Espacio 1 at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte reina Sofía, Madrid. Photo by José Hevia.

José Val del Omar (Granada, 1904 – Madrid, 1982) began composing Auto Sacramental Invisible (Invisible Auto Sacramental) in 1949. In the form of a sound installation, he conceived this device to dovetail with a crafted outline that carefully distributes sound (voices, music, different noises…) across more than a dozen speakers. The process shaped an aesthetic piece that foreshadowed reflections that would engender the expression “sound art” in the 1960s. The work, virtually unknown — it would only be presented in June 1952, and partially and tentatively at that — can be understood as a kind of “missing link” inside a Valdelomarian aesthetic evolution. Moreover, Auto Sacramental Invisible goes some way to explaining the leap from the young film-maker and photographer — in close proximity to documentary realism — linked to the Pedagogical Mission, and Val del Omar – now wholly cinemist, abstract, poetic — who, from 1954 onwards, would present, via *Aguaespejo granadino* (Water-Mirror of Granada), his magnum opus Tríptico elemental de España (Elementary Triptych of Spain).

Worm's eye view of the ceiling. Photo by José Hevia.

From a present-day perspective, the fact that this evolution was channelled through an aesthetic approach primarily linked to sound and perception takes on greater relevance. Auto Sacramental Invisible: Una representación sonora a partir de Val del Omar (Invisible Auto Sacramental: A Sonic Representation from Val del Omar) mixes, in a complex intermedial synthesis, strands of theatre, music and installation which, in Niño de Elche’s interpretation, are put off-centre — detonated — through multiple voices that simultaneously align towards Spain in 1952, to which the work bore witness, and 2020, welcomed and presented for the first time in the Museo Reina Sofía.