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Zaj (España - 1964 - 1996)

Location: España


Archivo Arte Sonoro UCLM


Juan Hidalgo
Walter Marchetti
Esther Ferrer


Zaj is a spanish artistic avant-gard group founded in 1964 by the musicians Juan Hidalgo, Ramón Barce and Walter Marchetti. The group practiced experimental action music and it was influenced by zen philosophy, Neodadaism, and the international group Fluxus. Juan Hidalgo participated at the 12th New Music Festival in Darmstadt in 1957 and 1958 and there he met John Cage who had written his musical theory in the manifest: The Future of Music: "Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. […] The sound of a truck at eighty kilometers per hour, rain or parasites among radio stations, we think noise is fascinating".

Thereafter, Hidalgo began to investigate a new musical concept. The traditional rhythm and time were replace by the chronometer so music is converted in a “temporal-auditory process of sonorous objects”. As a result of this new conception, music stops to be a mere product of concert and it becomes to “alive and changing being”. In the first years several artists, musicians and writers join the group such as José Luis Castillejo, Tomás Marco, Manolo Millares, Martín Chirino, Ricardo Ferralt, José Cortés and Alejandro Reino. In 1965 Ramón Barce left the group and in 1967 the performer Esther Ferrer joined them. Eventhough she didn’t have academic musical skills they got along well because the sonorous universe of John Cage. They experiment a musical revolution and carry out a new way of doing and hearing. Despite of critics, general public and institutions didn’t understand this approach, Zaj maintained a constant activity for more than three decades performing actions, concerts in Spain, France, Germany e Italy until it disbanded in 1996. To the question: “What is Zaj?” Juan Hidalgo answers: “Zaj is Zaj because Zaj is not Zaj” and Marchetti states: “Zaj is like a bar. People come in, come out, stay, have a drink and leave a tip”. For Ferer, Zaj is another possibility put into practice, a point of view.
Zaj activities started in November 1964 with “Traslado a pie de tres objetos. Primer acto Zaj” which consisted of walking along the streets of Madrid and “Concierto de teatro musical” in Colegio Mayor Menéndez Pelayo.

> Exhibition Zaj. Colección Archivo Conz Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, 2009 > Catálogo en pdf

> Zaj: "Somos los cómicos del arte". Interview by Fietta Jarque, El País, November 6, 1989.

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