“Is there a culture in which drawing, the boundaries of the mountains, the border between the land and the emptiness of the sky has a name? Yes, the Basque culture. The name of the mountainside –egi, which means truth. But is there a truth before that truth of the mountainside? Logically. Before there was utseski, which means edge, frame of emptiness, which is why the first myth in Basque is that of the sky and then the earth”. Jorge Oteiza.
The truth of the mountainsides. Oteiza behind the camera
“The mountains are mammals”, says Oteiza in his bible, Quosque tandem, and this header bears this out. The silhouettes of the profile of the mountains filmed by him seem to have a life of their own behind the eyes of the filmmaker. They breathe. Filmed in the 1960s with his own hand and eye in the Gipuzkoa landscapes of the Urbia and Aranzazu countryside, the value of these images is that they belong to an unpublished super8 that he defended with these words:
“All of the geology of the mountains is like the Apostles. They are open: one is half a cylinder, another here, another there and so on. I have a small film in super8 that begins by capturing all of the mountains as if they were the Apostles”.
“The man who flees enters into film”, according to Oteiza, but the man who films does the opposite: he becomes a recluse in a space that happily imprisons him, the landscape that surrounds him and works like the gap from where he looked at the sky on Orio Beach, where he buried himself as a child. Oteiza planted in the middle of his Pre-Indo-European space, in the heart of the Basque Country, shows us rocks, meadows, summits, passes and hills, and revolves around them like a lighthouse that never leaves a blind spot around it. Oteiza, advocate of the first place name, which goes back more than 80 grandmothers, shows with his camera the gap before the mountains and repeats: aizpitarte, the sensitivity to name the empty space… the man who looks at the gap.
The result is a party of diverse geometries recreated in nature that will be the aperitif to all of the sessions at the 2017 festival. Oteiza, the filmmaker without films, wants to capture everything here, from his small universe, and experiences a film drive in these images of the profile of the mountains that dominate what was initially going to be a familiar super8 (the family appears for just a few seconds, after all it is a recreational look at the landscape). Against those who advocate and defend an Oteiza detached from inspiration in nature, here is this testimony. The mountains: Apostles of the horizon.
Oteiza and his “tomavistas” (viewtaker), as he called it – remember he also used the term “cuartillas” when he wrote-, panning from left to right and immediately panning back from right to left, two contrary but not contradictory movements, which was perceived as a sin in the orthodox film schools. Oteiza, the blasphemer of art, the enemy of the technique, the advocate of film of the moment without memory, is the best Oteiza in this swinging of mountains. His gaze is never still, it only stops in front of what is sacred, a group of horses in the distance, a totem animal for Oteiza, supporter of returning art to caves. Like in an orientation table, the camera man appears to be repeating the mantra of the old place name, the line of summits filmed: Atxuri, Aketegi, Aizkorri, Aitzabal… and towards the other side: Andreaitz, Urdajamentu, Azkiola, Zulaiko, Arbalain… and once more: Arri-urdin, Erriko-aitza, Arkaitz, Botreaitz… Wrapped in light, he devotes two days to this film and at the end of the second day, it is clear that he is waiting for the day to fade away. It is then when the sunset dresses the evening in darkness and the mountain and its heavenly concavity form a far-off brotherhood, where it seems that man has never been. Or from where he never returned.
The entire film to which this header belongs is called "Urbia" and will be screened in the session "Oteiza, The Man Who Flees" of the eleventh edition of Punto de Vista.