Zaj, Spain

A Zaj Sampler
(1967, Great Bear Pamphlet, Something Else Press) [PDF, 688k]

Works by the Zaj group of Madrid:
José Luis Castillejo
Ramiro Cortés
Javier Martiñez Cuadrado
Juan Hidalgo
Walter Marchetti
Tomas Marco
Eugenio de Vicente
translated into English by Peter Besas

Note on the Zaj Group

There is no official history of the Zaj Group. The general spirit of the works with which the group is identified is unhistorical, fresh and even the question of who actually belongs to the group is never allowed to intrude. Those who once worked with the group are described as "no longer working with us," rather than not Zaj. The word "Zaj" itself is without meaning, except as it becomes identified with the group. For some Zaj manifestations, the word has been spelled in an alternate way - "Zej" or "Zoj" for instance. Let it suffice to say, by way of historical remarks, that Juan Hidalgo and Walter Marchetti were two founders of the group, some time around 1964 at Madrid. Since that time there have been forty or fifty Zaj manifestations at Madrid, elsewhere in Spain (thus transcending the intranational, regional differences that have plagued the cultural avant-garde in Spain until now), and even in various other European countries. There are also many Zaj publications, which Something Else Press has undertaken to distribute. The background of the participants at first tended to be musical. Both Juan Hidalgo and Walter Marchetti are highly skilled composers and musicians. They were well known in Italian musical circles during the period of Hidalgo's stay there, in the late 1950's and early 1960's, and when Hidalgo returned to Spain, bringing the Italian Marchetti with him, it was a considerable loss to the Italian musical scene. However, in works of the sort which characterize Zaj, the imagery is not necessarily musical at all. For a considerable time there was musical imagery in most Zaj work, but it came to be increasingly confined to the titles, alluding to well-known musical works, until finally, as Castillejo points out in his excellent description, the first text in this pamphlet, even the allusions disappeared. Castillejo himself is a good example of the non-musical Zaj member. By profession he is a diplomat, currently First Secretary of the Spanish Embassy at Algiers. However he has written many essays, art criticism, known best in this country through Art International, and a collection of his superb short writings, oriented into and out of concrete poetry, has been published by Zaj under the title la caida del avion en el terreno baldio, available through Something Else Press. Again, Tomas Marco writes criticism for various Spanish magazines and is a law student. The overall tendency of the Zaj group is, then, towards very original events in general, both for performance and non-performance, and the group is one of the most exciting and active today, the first of international importance from Spain in many a year.

(Written in 1967)

José Luis Castillejo in UbuWeb Sound
Walter Marchetti in UbuWeb Historical
Juan Hidalgo in UbuWeb Sound