Una tirada de dados… A three-way, two-part conversation. Israel Galván with Pedro G. Romero and Filiep Tacq

Una tirada de dados…, Israel Galván, Pedro G. Romero and Filiep Tacq. At Playground, November 2016. Photo: Joeri Thiry / STUK.


Following an initial conversation in Seville between artist and curator Pedro G. Romero, art book designer Filiep Tacq and flamenco bailaor Israel Galván on Mallarmé and his disorderly imprint on the flamenco genre.


“Una tirada de dados…”

The Roman rascals
Cast their lots for
The lord’s tunic
They left us women –
Latin, Roman; laws and paths
The Roman soldiers.

Saeta Cuartelera from Puente Genil

This presentation is part of “The Book to Come”, a project set up by Bulegoa z/b around the performativity of the artist book. The project is based on a set of five books by Marcel Broodthaers.

Different agents: artists, historians, curators, writers, etc. have been invited to reflect and comment on the theme. They are asked to relate their intervention to one of Broodthaers’ five books, their field of meanings, and the signifiers they have brought into play.

“Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard” is a poem by Stéphane Mallarme which was posthumously published by Gallimard in 1914. The poem was reinterpreted by Marcel Broodthaers in 1969, and will now be used as a starting point for the session “Una tirada de dados…” by flamenco bailaor Israél Galvan, with Pedro G. Romero and Filiep Tacq, to take place as part of the Playground Festival, Louvain, Belgium.


Stéphane Mallarmé is considered to have been the poet who invented the space of modern art, the first to have freed the poem – writing – from the rigid margins of the page, letting the words float over the page in an open arrangement, a musical arrangement, perhaps… contemporaneous with the birth of film. He unravelled the linear order of reading, creating a higher level of abstraction, proposing new interrelations between phrases and words, returning autonomy to language in a way which extends beyond the intentions of the writer, his social context and the conditions of his time.

Marcel Broodthaers (MB) took his reading a step further. He covered the lines of text with black blocks, rendering it illegible, turning it into an image, a construction of black lines and spaces. A rhythm of black parallel bars, like a score but also like constructivist architecture, or a censored archive, or a cybernetic code, or… MB printed his name instead of Mallarmé’s on the cover, and changed the word “poem” for “image.”

In the work of flamenco bailaor Israél Galvan, we find silence; suspended movement; musical caesurae; imprecise, unrecognisable gestures; hissing; inner music; the continual exposure and concealment of the body and its parts; clicking of the tongue, fragmented, constantly reordered sequences; stuttering; sounds coming out of the head, the mouth, the fingers, torso, feet; the happening becomes text.

It is unsurprising to find similarities between the work of a bailaor like Galván and ways of working that have travelled the same path, from Mallarmé to Broodthaers. At least three conditions have come together to provide flamenco with these characteristics. Firstly, the relation between certain “flamenco” poets and Mallarmé – in particular, Antonio Machado and his heteronym Juan de Mairena; and then the early relationship between dance and the filmmaker, who worked together in variety shows; and the mimetic imitation of its forms in the artistic development of the genre; finally, bailaor Vicente Escudero’s relation to the Cubist and Dada avant gardes, through which Escudero invented the most radical, “primitive”, authentic traditions of the dance.


After an initial conversation in Seville between artist and curator Pedro G. Romero, art book designer Filiep Tacq, and flamenco bailaor Israel Galván, on Mallarmé and his chequered influence on the flamenco genre; on reading Broodthaers and the visibility of Mallarmé’s poetry in his work (and even, on the pun between flamenco as, on the one hand, an inhabitant of Flanders, and on the other as an artist of the Spanish, Andaluz and gypsy music and dance genre); on the possibility of making a book, or using the strategy of making a book as a way to think about these concerns.

So we wanted to approach this now with a three-way, two-part conversation, in which Israel Galván will act, dance, what he says, his way of speaking. Minutes before this, Pedro G. Romero and Filiep Tacq will try to explain the performance; they will give clues and hone in, and maybe help with the reading of the movements to come; they will fail, gloriously, in their attempt to translate the gestures, music and silences of Israel Galván into a book, a text, a way of speaking.

The framework for these conversations is the Louvain University Library, whose reconstruction in the 1930s was carried out with financial aid from the United States. The library also has a chequered history. The various sets of books it has inherited come from different conflicts, have been through wars and revolts, and its legacy has been endlessly scattered and gathered. The last time this happened was in 1970, when its stock was partly shared out on an odd / even number basis between the French speaking and Flemish communities. The library currently holds the odd-numbered books.

One more incidental detail, perhaps an irrelevant one: the library building, which was built by the US, was crowned with the architectural model of the Giralda in Seville, the city where Israel Galván and Pedro G. Romero both live. American civil architecture in the early twentieth century commonly used this type of pinnacle. French collective 4taxis called a certain gesture used in photographic dance poses “doing the giralda,” and also applied the term to the constructive forms of popular culture of the twentieth century: from the Giralda that crowned the Empire State building in New York, to James Brown’s characteristic pose; from Maruja Mallo’s performative expressions to the pinnacles of San Francisco’s hanging bridge; from the central square in Kansas City to the poses of bailaores like José Greco, José de Triana and José Limón.


Israel Galván (Seville, 1973) is a Spanish bailaor and flamenco choreographer. National Dance Award 2005. In 2012 Galván was given the Bessie Award for an Outstanding Production, New York, and the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts. Son of Sevillian bailaores José Galván and Eugenia de Los Reyes, he has frequented tablaos, parties and dance academies in the company of his father. But it was only in 1990 that he found his vocation for dance. In 1994, he joined the recently inaugurated Compañia Andaluza de Danza, directed by Mario Maya. Galván has collaborated in many different kinds of projects with a wide variety of artists, including Enrique Morente, Manuel Soler and Mario Maya; and Sol Picó, Pat Metheny, Vicente Amigo, Alfredo Lagos, Manuela Carrasco, Lagartija Nick, Fernando Terremoto, Miguel Poveda, Diego Carrasco, Gerardo Nuñez, Belen Maya, Chicuelo, Joan Albert Amargós, Diego Amador, Arcángel, Inés Bacán, Estrella Morente… In 1998, he presented Mira! Los Zapatos Rojos, the first event by his own company, which was praised by specialised critics as a work of genius and revolutionised the concept of flamenco performance. This was followed by La Metamorfosis (2000), Galvánicas (2002), Arena (2004), La Edad De Oro (2005), Tábula Rasa (2006), Solo (2007), EL Final De Este Estado De Cosas, Redux (2008), La Curva (2010), Lo Real / Le Réel / The Real (2012), and FLA.CO.MEN (2014)

Filiep Tacq (Kortrijk, 1959) has been working since 1984 as an independent graphic designer specialising in books, art catalogues and artist books. Tacq has lectured at the Sint-Lucas Instituut, Gante, and the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. He has worked on publications for artists including Francis Alÿs, Ibon Aranberri, Marcel Broodthaers, James Coleman, Abbas Kiarostami, Moyra Davey, Pedro G. Romero, Rosa Barba and Teresa Lanceta, and institutions such as the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; DIA Center for the Arts, New York; Manifesta 2, Luxembourg; MACBA, Barcelona, and Bulegoa z/b.
Filiep Tacq and Bulegoa z/b set in motion “The Book to Come” (2015-2017), a project based on the study of five books by Marcel Broodthaers.

Pedro G. Romero (Aracena, 1964) has been working as an artist since 1985. He is currently working on two large apparatuses Archivo F.X. and Máquina P.H. Romero is a member of unia arteypensamiento and PRPC (Plataforma de Reflexión de Políticas Culturales), Seville. He curates the project Tratado de Paz for DSS2016 Cultural Capital.
Projects presented by Archivo F.X. include La Comunidad vacía. Política for Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; and Economía Picasso/Economía for Museo Picasso, Barcelona. His work has recently unfolded with La Escuela Moderna for the 31Sao Paolo Biennial. Wirtschaft, Ökonomie, Komjunktur was recently published by Spector Books, Germany, after a project exhibited at Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart. Máquina P.H. supports the Plataforma Independiente de Estudios Flamencos Modernos y Contemporáneos www.pieflamenco.com. Romero is art director for bailaor Israel Galván and collaborates with different artists, from Rocío Márquez to Tomás de Perrate, for example. He curated Ocaña. Acciones, actuaciones, activismo 1973-1983 for the Virreina, Barcelona, and Centro de Arte Montehermoso, Vitoria. Mudito have just published his Exaltación de la visión on the films of José Val del Omar. He is currently working on Máquinas de Vivir. El flamenco y la arquitectura en la ocupación y desocupación de espacios, a project which has been presented at the Berlin Biennale; CGAC, Santiago de Compostela; unía arteypensamiento, Seville; Cristinaenea de Donostia, MACBA, Barcelona, and Viena Secession.

The Book to Come is a project for Corpus network for performance practice. Corpus is made up of Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution (Amsterdam), Playground (STUK Kunstencentrum & M-Museum, Louvain) and Tate Modern (London).

Corpus is co-financed by the European Union Creative Europe programme.