Notes on the project

The current technophile and technophobic panorama draws different positions around the culture/nature binomial, ranging from the sole admission of one of its terms to the definitive dissolution of the binomial through the identification of its parts. Very broadly speaking, this is the conceptual framework from which I start for the development of the non-fiction script I am developing with the A Coruña-based production company Zeitun Films. A non-binary fable in an anti-apocalyptic romantic key under the provisional name “Memoria de Anxos_Mise Abyme” in which, in a non-linear way, we witness the game of apparently antagonistic relationships that José Luis, the main character of the film, maintains with himself and with the context through which he passes. Immersed in a supposed state of disagreement and melancholy, J.L will decide to put the bodies and people -even loved ones- who insist on defending the survival of the natural human state by persuading him -explicitly or covertly- to shun any possible technological interventionism.

As a touchstone, José Luis embarks on a journey under the consideration that the binomial that others try to admit from a single perspective, for him, is indissoluble.  From then on, José Luis will ride on the back of a fluorescent horse guided by the seductive voice of a famous singer of light music who, on several occasions, will whisper to him: “when you go, I come from there”. On a silver balloon, he will travel through valleys, hills, cities and rubble. At times, he will sleep in an underground carriage, accompanied by “mud entities” who will help him -without apparent purpose- to walk among the ruins of the current academy of a famous Athenian philosopher, and shortly afterwards, he will find himself at the wheel of an imposing racing car, transporting ten jugs of oil, several chickens and a new chronology counter. Moments and circumstances in which the spaces of José Luis’s memory – as of those who attend to this situation – will gradually become covered with a substratum that will end up constituting an amalgam of locations, names, dialogues, situations, which will be terribly familiar to us and which, gradually, will allow us to understand that the point from which the story begins, like the equator and the end of the story, are a docket of situations and contexts previously produced. José Luis, aware of this, will decide to travel in the opposite direction to the timeline established in his script. In other words, his journey will be a return journey. A transit from the denouement of the story to the beginning of it. Like someone who retraces his steps, he will be directly confronted with his ” abysm setting “. He will be conscious of traversing along “his handwritten self” or, if one prefers, along “his old self”. An “I” which will undoubtedly retain the traces of an earlier writing. It would seem as if J.L wanted to expressly erase that which “is known to have already been said” in order to make room for what “now exists” or vice versa, what now exists will seem to be what was previously said. A space-time palimpsest tangled with myths and anti-myths. An accumulation and jumble of substances and of course, like any being who decides to retrace his steps, between qualities of two aspects, José Luis, will end up stumbling over himself. Now a cowboy⌁ who is shot four times, now a silent hermit⌁ who is in search of true love. The love of an exotic, nomadic and erratic life that creeps through Rotermani, the same factory complex that decades ago, long before he passed through, Stalker had already passed through. “The area” is now the “Wolf’s Lair”, Hitler’s barracks-refuge, where it is said that the roads are littered with “ashes and diamonds”. There, among ruins, vegetation and scum, José Luis believes he has found his love, a love that in a few hours collapses as when one feels one’s certainties begin to turn into doubts. Doubts that seem to find some relief when walking through the place where the protagonist, at minute 1:09:29, decides to read a poem:

“Often, you are like a bright torch, with burning rags around you, as you burn, I don’t know if the flames will bring freedom or death, or if all that is yours will disappear.”

Like someone looking for a star at dawn, José Luis submerges his body in the waters of Lake Masuria in search of the knife which, they say, lies under the water. On his return to the surface, slumped on the edge of a cliff, with the lost gaze of a rebel who sees and feels himself without a cause, José Luis realizes that both the cliff and the sea he now sees are not as he thought he remembered them. They seem to be composed of a new time. A time in the form of a voice, a voice that will confess to him not knowing when or where it was that a couple of watchmakers decided to build a clock/counter that would allow them to count all the fictional time produced by humanity.  In turn, the voice will confess to J.L that the construction of that artifact involved two main reasons. One, to know what it feels like to love a loved one, and the other, to be astounded by the fact that, for every minute we consume in our reality, the film industry produces three minutes. 1-3… since then, until now, something is changing. 1-3… the love of those watchmakers has been disrupted by time. In front of them, the same sea and the same cliff on which José Luis, dejected, still gazes among the many backdrops in the “dream factory” in Potsdam near Berlin. There, kneeling on the floor of the Babelsberg film studios, surrounded by a set that recreates a cliff and a cliff.  There, where a few meters away from him, Thea Von Harbou and Fritz Lang wrote Metropolis, José Luis will remain prostrate in front of this great set and will say to himself: “In Metropolis it was the year 2026, in Memoria de Anxos namely… the Garden of Forking Paths is imaginary.” Next to him, his fluorescent horse and his sports car. Animal-machine-person, they perfectly illustrate the binomial tableau that is the passage through this world; between the apparently false and the apparently real, there is a Metropolis; between the one and the other; the continuous advance of the myth of Proteus. The spaces of José Luis’s memory will gradually become covered with names, places and situations which, by arranging themselves in order to accommodate one another, by establishing more and more numerous relationships, there will not be a single isolated moment between them. Each one will receive its raison d’être from the others, while at the same time imposing its own raison d’être. After all, the memories through which José Luis passes are memories that unfold and pile up, like someone walking through the rubble of a ruin that is as authentic as it is truthfully unreal; as unreal as it is possible. 

José Luis and us, us and José Luis between, by and through the ambiguity inherent to the pair constituted between that which we vehemently affirm as reality, as opposed to that which we affirm with the same impetus to be constituted as fiction, or what is the same, trapped between the impotence produced by being aware that, to define anything, fact or person, here in this world, we only use two categories. As the backdrop folds, José Luis will ask himself: what is my existence made up of?

There, between the lines of the real and the fictitious, he will soon realize that he is at the epicenter of the drama, that is to say, in the area of disturbance where the culture/nature pair converge. Overwhelmed, amidst mechano tube tubes, spotlights and decorative motifs, he will be aware of being at the exact point where the passages and facts of what we understand as nature intersect with those of what we believe to be culture. It will be there, surrounded by the imagery of the film studios devised under a Weimar Republic. Yes, there, where the National Socialist regime under the direction of the propaganda minister Paul Joseph Goebbels carried out its cultural plans, there, where a few years later, the Soviet military regime would end up developing its cultural programme as well. There in Babelsberg; now Filmpark. A vast film park full of facilities with endless attractions and multiple screenings, dynamic 3D cinemas and didactic museums. There and nowhere else José Luis notices that she has not been allowed to conceptualize anything about herself⌁ but rather that everything she has experienced so far has been defined and constituted by the need for others to label. A labeling based on simple categories that obviates the diversity that comes with being and being someone – or something – in this world. Paradoxically, it will be the binarism under which the film industry operates that will end up empowering José Luis and allow him to distance himself definitively from it. But not before listening to all those involved in the development and production of his story, insinuating that he was making a serious mistake. 

Finally, on the fringes of any dramatic curve, far from the neuroses of any being looking for immediate answers, thousands of kilometers away from experts in narrative and film management. Outside the range of the specialist who determines whether what happened is a drama or a Psycho Thriller, a romantic comedy or an Alcantara series. José Luis, will manage to completely unknot his story to become an entity immersed in the production of a non-binary and ego-free cinematographic artifact. Now, once achieved, it remains to be seen if the one who observes him, i.e. you, decides to do what José Luis did, to become a compact piece outside the bipolar world and join it under another name; let’s say the one that truly corresponds to you; cyborg, not hero.


Trained as a visual artist, he has been developing his artistic activity since 2001 in the field of visual arts, film and the living arts. His proposals resist the processes of acculturation and accommodation that the creative act undergoes today and seek physical – and psychic – spaces outside the institutional codifications in use.

In 2009 he produced the trilogy Oficios Preventivos (Preventive Trades), which won him the national prize (INJUVE) in the category of video art from the Spanish Ministry of Culture. This circumstance allowed him to meet the film director Oliver Laxe. Shortly afterwards, the two began a close professional relationship that resulted in the making of the experimental short film Paris#1. Later, Vicente Vázquez would collaborate in the following feature films by Laxe: Todos vós sodes capitáns and Mimosas. Both films received international critical acclaim and won awards at the Cannes International Film Festival in France.

In those years Vázquez made the films Canedo, El enemigo, 90º. Doble vertiente, Tono de escape and Goitik behera behetik Gora, awarded by the Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival and screened at the Anthology Film Archive in New York, Las Palmas International Film Festival, BAFICI. Festival Internacional de Mar de Plata, Reina Sofía or Cineteca Madrid. Films that, to this day, film critics recognise as productions directly linked to the beginnings of the so-called New Galician Cinema.

From then until now, his videographic practice has developed between the sphere of the film industry and the field of video art, non-fiction documentaries, ethnography, visual anthropology and even video clips. These apparently disparate fields allow him to establish an encounter between the most orthodox practices and other activities that are alien to any kind of doctrine. A modus operandi that looks at the crossovers between technique and ethnicity in an attempt to dismantle – or at least question – the nature-culture binomial. His work, therefore, raises more questions than it answers.

A work in continuous approximation in which the existing conventions in art, the very nature of the artist, the reason for its functioning as well as the questioning of the condition of the author as a producer of cultural objects are always present. For this reason, over the years the director has worked under different names: John Mouth, Juan de Pareja y esclavo de Velázquez, Zumo Natural, ESTADOSUNIDOS, QQ, Vázquez/Arrieta.

In 2013, together with the artists Usue Arrieta, Marc Vives and Ainara Elgoibar, he decided to set up Tractora Coop, an artists’ cooperative based in Bizkaia that was set up to support the artistic projects of its members, as well as the projects of third parties with whom the members of the cooperative share interests, affections and concerns.

Vázquez has collaborated in numerous films in which he has played different roles. In 2015, he worked as an editor on Irati Gorostidi’s documentary Pasaia Bitartean. Film screened at the Seville European Film Festival, at the Anthology Film Library in New York and at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. He has recently collaborated in several of the films of the filmmaker and artist Gerard Ortin as co-writer, assistant editor or even taking on the role of co-producer. These films have won awards and special mentions at various international festivals such as the Berlinale Shorts Competition, International Festival Cinema du Réel, Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2023 – 18 Mostra Internazionale di Architettura or Punto de Vista International Festival of Navarra, among others. He has also collaborated as editor and narrative advisor on the short films by visual anthropologist Maddi Barber Gorria and Alas/Tierra, both of which were programmed and awarded at the Documenta Madrid 2020 Festival, Curtocircuito Festival (Santiago de Compostela), Murcia Film Festival (IBAFF), Zinebi (Bilbao), L’Alternativa, International Documentary Film Festival FIDBA, Aula Xcentric, CCCB Barcelona and Filmoteca de Catalunya.

Other filmmakers with whom he has collaborated in recent years are: Ione Atenea, in the film Los caballos mueren al amanecer, and in the short film Tengan cuidado ahí fuera by the Ferrol director Alberto Gracia.

In the field of plastic arts, his works have been exhibited in public and private, national and international institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Fundación Joan Miró (Barcelona), Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), Goethe Institute, Wyoming Building (New York), Bergen Assembly (Norway), CGAC, Galician Centre of Contemporary Art (Santiago de Compostela), Ca2M (Madrid), San Telmo Museum (San Sebastián), Azkuna Zentroa (Bilbao), Fine Arts Museum (Bilbao), TBK Centre of Contemporary Culture (San Sebastián), Artium, Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country (Vitoria), Musac or Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla y León.

Some of his video installations are part of the Contemporary Art Collection. La Caixa. CGAC Collection, Galician Centre of Contemporary Art. Bilbao Art Collection, Contemporary Art Collection of the University of Vigo and also private collections.

For the last two years he has been living in a small cabin in the Ancares region of Lugo. In collaboration with the A Coruña-based production company Zeitun films, he is working on the second phase of writing the script for Memoria de Anxos_ Mise Abyme, a non-binary film that tries to dismantle the nature-culture binomial in the key of a romantic-apocalyptic fable. Last summer he carried out research for the WKV – Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart – on the concept of petromasculinity applied to the German automobile industry, which has helped him to specify and improve aspects of the script.

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