In 1964, the experimental musicians and composers Ramón Barce, Juan Hidalgo and Walter Marchetti established Zaj, one of the most subversive, avant-garde groups in the Spanish art scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Esther Ferrer joined them in 1967. She helped strengthen the group and remained in it, along with Hidalgo and Marchetti, until its dissolution in 1996. She took part in Zaj’s concerts, festivals and events in Spain and other countries.
Under the influence of American experimental composer and music theorist John Cage, Zaj combined avant-garde music, experimental poetry, and performance with the aim of taking everyday activities out of context and defying the status quo that curtailed individual and collective freedoms in pre-democratic Spain. Performances like The Nobleman with his Hand on the Chest (El caballero con la mano en el pecho), where Hidalgo placed his hand in one of Ferrer’s breasts, were met with enthusiasm by a few and with shock and aversion by most.
Zaj Group (Ramón Barce, Juan Hidalgo, Walter Marchetti, Esther Ferrer, Eugenio de Vicente)
The Nobleman with his Hand on the Chest (El caballero con la mano en el pecho), 1967
Gelatin silver print on paper
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
© Esther Ferrer, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Photo Archive, Madrid