Centro de Arte Hortensia herrero

The Hortensia Herrero Foundation emerged in 2012 with the aim of promoting interest, knowledge and sensitivity to art and culture through projects created in the Valencian Community by artists from all over the world.

‘Left in Dust’ is installed over the partially excavated remains of a Roman chariot racing site in Valencia old town.During the period of the Roman Empire one of the galvanising forces that functioned as a way of pacifying the populace was the elaborate organisation of entertainment and games. Gladiatorial combat and chariot races were the main attractions in the arena. However, despite these advances, the Romans could hardly be described as considerate and compassionate. There is a disquietude in seeing a horse, once free to graze and play, being co-opted into the mad frenzy of this theatre of entertainment. The horse’s throbbing sensuality was undeniably part of the attraction of these races, and the madness of an excited crowd is a seductive, irresistible spectacle.

The Fallas struck me as totally crazy, seeing what goes on in Valencia with these huge effigies of people like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin or whoever, these famous political love or hate figures that were paraded and then burned. The whole event was like a pagan festival, but it also incorporated the idea of celebrity, like a social media thing. So I thought it was really interesting and I started doing a bit more research going back hundreds of years to the origins of it, when apparently commercial craftsmen, the people who actually made things during the dark winter months, needed lighting, so they made these constructions to hold their candles. When spring arrived and it got lighter in the evening, they didn’t need candlelight to work, so they took out these supporting structures and burned them, this burning became ritualised. This was also a period of transformation from the winter to spring, a crucial period in the pagan calendar. It’s a time of rebirth, when people start going outdoors and the plants begin to grow. So it’s an important time because people depended on what grows and on whether they’re going to be able to eat for the next twelve months. This gradually gained momentum until children went around knocking on people’s doors asking for little pieces of wood or cloth with which to build objects or figures that could then be burned as part of the festival. Gradually it evolved into the spectacle we have today. Contemporary political and cultural luminaries, Christian iconography and colossal flower tableaux’s blend seamlessly with gunpowder.