We’re on the home stretch with posts about various aspects of Las Fallas in Valencia. It has taken a while to put into words and pictures all the amazing things we’ve seen, though it’s nothing to the hundreds of thousands of person-hours that went into the making and destroying of the fallas. If you want to go back and look through the pictures or read anything you missed, start here, and move forward in time.
I’m still getting used to the idea that so many people put so much time, so much effort and so much money into something so large, so elaborate and so involved, only to burn it to the ground. It will take me a while to ponder on the implications–much longer, in fact, than it takes a five-story falla to become a modest pile of ash.
I’m told there are around 700 fallas created every year–each neighborhood creates one large and one small, an infantíl, which burns at 10 pm instead of midnight or later, so the kids can go to bed early (!). Each falla, or torch, is made up of ninots, Valencian for doll or puppet. Many have dozens of components. El Guapo took hundreds of pictures, but I’ll include just a handful here. I don’t want to wear you out. After a session of looking at all that complexity, you begin to hanker after a simple view of a zen garden, just to rest the eyes and mind.
It’s remarkable to think that they filled the city last week, and this week they’re gone. I’ve posted some pictures of entire fallas, to give you an idea of the scale, both conceptual and physical (they fill entire intersections and plazas), as well as pictures of individual ninots. I can’t begin to get inside the mind of the artists who do this, but I can still be awash in admiration.
Looking at this picture I’m struck by the relationship between the cubes in the falla and the cubes in the facade of the building in the background. I know the artists knew where the falla would be erected–was this deliberate?
This was one of the most elaborate fallas we saw. We went one day to see it, and were suitably impressed, and then went by a few days later, startled to find that there were several elements added–a carousel, some guys in combat gear, a barbershop quartet in a gazebo, a hang glider cantilevered at a great distance. This turned out to be a fatal flaw. At some point near sunrise one morning, the hang glider came crashing down. If you look closely at the woman in the pink dress in the center, you’ll see her head has toppled off. There’s a plinth up to the right, and all that’s above it has fallen down to the left. Even knowing that the whole thing would be burning soon, the fall must have been devastating to the designers.
Valencia must have more artistic talent (of a certain flavor) per capita than nearly any place in the world. To quote an Irish friend of mine, “I’m gobsmacked.”