MADRID – Madrid celebrates 100 years since renowned poet, playwright, and theater director Federico Garcia Lorca first arrived in the Spanish capital by organizing a series of events aimed at exploring the myriad creative outlets the Spaniard immersed himself in while living in the city, organizers of the event said on Monday.
“Federico Garcia Lorca: 100 years in Madrid (1919-2019)” will bring Lorca’s 1920s swinging Madrid to life through 16 conferences across six different venues with a wide range of international speakers who will explore Lorca the musician, the visual artist, the poet and playwright.
The event director Emilio Peral Vega said the congress boasts some of the most prominent international Lorca experts including Melissa Dinverno from the American University of Indiana who will be exploring how Lorca’s memory lives on in Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum and Jonathan E. Mayhew, from Kansas University in the United States, who will be giving a talk titled “From Madrid to New York: studies of Lorca in the US.”
The congress will visit different venues every day and will launch at the Reina Sofia Museum which houses several Lorca drawings as well as the memorial that was showcased at the Paris World Fair in 1937 in memory of the assassinated author who was killed in the early days of the Spanish Civil War.
Each day will set out to explore a different creative facet of the artist. The first day of the event will visit the Reina Sofia Art Museum, followed by a day at the Complutense University of Madrid that will set the scene for Lorca’s Madrid with presentations that will focus on Lorca the poet and the important influence he had over young poets of his time.
On Wednesday, the event will be hosted by perhaps the venue most intimately entwined with Lorca, the halls of residence where he lived in Madrid and where he met fellow Spanish surrealists Luis Buńuel, the filmmaker, and artist Salvador Dali.
Punters will immerse themselves into the sounds of Lorca – who before turning to writing was an accomplished musician with a fascination for Spanish folklore – the music he would have listened to as well as learning more about how his experience of the “Residencia de Estudiantes” shaped him as an artist and person.
For Lorca, music was in many ways his muse which led him to write several poems and essays dedicated to “Cante Jondo” (the Flamenco style of song, which translates as deep song).
He had a close relationship with Spanish composer Manuel de Falla and worked with him on several creative projects throughout his lifetime.
By Thursday, event attendees will explore Lorca the visual artist and writer of letters in the oldest building in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, the XVIII century Royal Post Office.
The last two days of the congress will be held at two theaters – the Spanish Theater of Madrid and Canal Theater, an apt setting to delve into Lorca’s passion for the stage.
Lorca wrote many plays but perhaps his most well-known works were written after a stint in New York and upon his return to Spain in the 1930s. During this period, Spain had a short-lived Second Republic (1931-1939) and Lorca was made the director of the Teatro Universitario La Barraca (The Shack).
It was while Lorca was touring with the company that he wrote “The House of Bernarda Alba,” and “Blood Wedding,” works that were groundbreaking in their exploration of female roles within society.
During this creative period, the artist gave his now emblematic lecture on “Play and Theory of the Duende,” where he detailed his vision of creative inspiration drawing from Flamenco culture again with the use of the word “duende” (which literally translates as goblin but in this context refers to magic and spirituality) to describe an artist’s muse and inspiration.
With the rise of the far right in Spain, Lorca was a clear target. A vociferous socialist, an open homosexual and a prominent artist with links to the Surrealists who were considered abominable by the far right fascists in Spain.
The Spanish civil war (1936-1939), which saw far-right nationalists battle the incumbent left-wing republicans, communists and anarchists started in July 1936.
It is thought the artist was shot dead in August 1936. His body has never been found.
When Gen. Francisco Franco’s regime took hold in 1939, the fascist government censored all of Lorca’s work, a ban that was not lifted until 1953.
“Federico Garcia Lorca: 100 years in Madrid (1919-2019)” runs until Saturday Feb. 22.