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Manel Esclusa

A stage: Pandora's box, or a cabinet of curiosities

Polish director Krystian Lupa tends to put a red thread across the front of the stage in his productions. Instead of a thread, sometimes he places a frame, also red. Both gestures are a warning to the viewer: what happens on the stage is more real and more frightening than the life led in the stalls, and if the spectator dares to cross these marks, he or she has to assume the consequences. When you leave the theatre, you will be another person. The image that the photographer, Manel Esclusa, has created for the poster for this edition of the Temporada Alta Festival also shows the stage as an exceptional place. It could be either a Pandora's Box, and unleash a whirlwind in the consciousness of the spectators, or a cabinet of curiosities and entertain the audience.

"The image is only points of light and the trace of the light," says Manel Esclusa. "I think of it as being linked to the world of theatre – he adds – in that they were two significant elements in the stage setting: the lighting as it had been initially, with candles and at stage level; and later, the illumination from on high, with electric light. Both illuminate a stage where as yet there are no actors from the show."

It is difficult to explain so many things with so few elements. The protagonist of the image is a ray of light, but the focus that projects it creates a space where it is still not known what will happen. And this unknown element is both exciting and dramatic. "It's about the mystery it creates and the darkness, which exists because there are lights that reveal it, just as light exists because there is darkness," explains the artist.

"The lighting defines a space and becomes the protagonist, as it provides a particular character to the scene," emphasises Esclusa, who also explains that the lights of the poster for Temporada Alta can evoke "the beginning, the interval or the end of a show".

Although the image of Manel Esclusa for Temporada Alta is made in a theatre, it connects in a very direct way with his nocturnal photographs of urban spaces. "Photography is also a continuous balance between light and darkness," concludes the artist.


The image by Manel Esclusa can also be seen as the counterpoint to what Francesc Torres created for the festival in 2012, where he turned the movement of an acrobat almost into a wake of light. The festival maintains a continuous collaboration with the world of photography. In addition to Manel Esclusa and Francesc Torres, it has commissioned works by other photographers such as Toni Catany, Joan Fontcuberta and Josep Maria Oliveras.

Antoni Ribas


Manel Ensclusa

Manel Esclusa (Vic 1952). He is considered one of the most outstanding Catalan photographers of the last decades. He came to photography when he was still a child through his father's laboratory, with whom he worked in the field of commercial photography between 1966 and 1972. In 1974 he was awarded a Photography Scholarship by the Castellbach Art Endowment and attended the Stages Internationaux de la Photograpophie d'Arles, France, where he was taught by photographers of such stature as Ansel Adams, Neal White, Arthur Trees, Ian Dieusaide, Denis Briat and Lucien Clergue. Shortly afterwards, he became one of the founders of the Grup Alabern along with Rafael Navarro, Joan Fontcuberta and Pere Formiguera.

At the end of the 1970s, Esclusa began his investigations into the nature of nocturnal light and around various aspects about the scarcity of light, themes which he still maintains today. The results of these processes of technical experimentation have succeeded in making light material, creating architectural spaces, through shadows and lighting effects, which create fantastic, dreamlike and poetic spaces.

He is an artist with worldwide renown, thanks to numerous exhibitions such as Aquariana, Gits, Ahucs, Naus, amongst others, most of them with an international reach. Currently, his work can be found at the Bibliotèque National, the Musée Réattu (France) and at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Catalonia); but also in many other museums and private collections. Manel Esclusa, alongside his career as an artist, has worked as a teacher throughout his life, both in workshops and in schools.

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