José Val del Omar (b. 1904, Granada; d. 1982, Madrid) 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 proposal heralding the reflections that in the 1960s would engender the term “sound art.”
The virtually unknown work—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, the Auto Sacramental Invisible goes some way to explaining the leap from the young filmmaker and photographer—akin to documentary realism and connected to the Misiones Pedagógicas (Pedagogical Missions)—and Val del Omar—now wholly cinemista (“cinema alchemist”), abstract, poetic—who, beginning in 1954, would present, starting with Aguaespejo granadino (Water-Mirror of Granada), his magnum opus Tríptico elemental de España (Elementary Triptych of Spain).
From today’s perspective, the fact that this evolution was channeled through an aesthetic reflection primarily linked to sound and its 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) incorporates, in a complex intermedial synthesis, elements of theater, music, and installation that, in Niño de Elche’s interpretation, are decentered—exploited—through multiple voices that are directed simultaneously at both the Spain of 1952, which witnessed the emergence of this work, and of 2020, as the Museo Reina Sofía presents it for the first time.
In the belief that the museum should foster a learning experience by generating diverse relationships over time and in various contexts, the Collections Department together with Niño de Elche has embarked on the project Invisible Auto Sacramental: A Sonic Representation from Val del Omar, a production of a piece by one of the fundamental artists in the collection, José Val del Omar. The museum thus proposes an act of rereading, an experiment in which no specific time is extracted from the past. It is a complex narrative for imagining the future in which ambiguity and experimentation flow between the two artists—working in “excesses” and resisting the temptation to definitively define their times and meanings.
Miguel Álvarez-Fernández: Script, audio design, and musical production
Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco: Historical contextualization, script, and architectural design
Carlos Marquerie and David Benito: Lighting
Juan Andrés Beato: Sound engineering