Notes on the use of still photography in the film,

by David Mauas

One of the primary concerns that I had to define when thinking about this project was how to show Goya' s work in the film.

I remember that ten years ago, on a visit to the Prado Museum, when photography was still allowed, I shot two rolls of black and white. A while later, after developing them, I wrote down in my diary: “I wonder what it would be like to do a series of photographs of paintings, reframing them.”

Years later, when I began to develop the story for this film, the conditions were, albeit unconsciously, ripe.

There was another concern as well, that was not trivial: I did not want to show the paintings as they were, shot “cleanly” in museums using perfect reproductions, as unappealable images. An image of "The Third of May 1808" as though it were The Third of May 1808, or an image of “The Nude Maja” instead of the painting The Nude Maja
I didn' t wish to occupy the space of Goya' s painting. The mere fact of saying, here is Goya' s colour, look upon it, seemed to be a mistake. An act of deceit.

I decided to attempt a clear intermediation, active and evident. Photographs, reframed. A subjective, personal look, that maintained distance from the original work (handheld camera when filming the Museum, from an authoreal point of view would follow the same logic.)

This process was by no means less important than the result. Not only did I photograph in search of sequences for the film, but as a means to observe, learn and get close.
I developed more than eighty rolls. Hundreds of photographs…

I felt a sense of rapture, wild abandon, one could say: alone with Goya' s work, intimately, photographing obsessively, reframing, apprehending, interpreting.

Photography induces, it helps observe. It hides us and makes us visible at the same time. A mirror illusion.
I became obsessed with a chimeric idea: if I photographed all of Goya' s paintings, I would have without a doubt, once they were organized, a complete narrative of the history of Spain. From yesterday to today.
A painting is not only what is painted, what we see, it is also it' s history. It' s own biography from the moment it was painted until the precise instant that we see it. Not only is it the person or event that is represented, but the sum total of glances cast upon it.

“Time also paints”, Goya wrote. The patina of time, its patina, it' s aura...

I will never forget a certain afternoon: I was in the middle of the museum, surrounded by all of Goya' s paintings and suddenly I felt a sense of anguish. How would I feel if this were the last time that I would visit these paintings, the last time that I saw them with my own eyes? A strange contradictory feeling. Knowing that the photos that I took of the paintings were not the paintings, and that I couldn' t use them as a memory tool. On the other hand, I had to accept that the photographs were replacing the paintings themselves in my own personal experience.

Eternal contradictions...