Story By: Jonathan Macias, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
A huge papier-mache figure of a meditating woman has been partially burned by council officials in Valencia in Spain who left the face wearing the mask as a symbol of hope in a country that has seen almost 10,000 virus infections and almost 350 dead.
The image of the woman meditating had been erected in the city centre of Valencia in the autonomous community with the same name in eastern Spain in preparation for the celebration of Las Fallas.
During the festival, hundreds of large papier-mache figures like this one called ‘fallas’ are erected before being burnt. The burning which is accompanied by fireworks and music is part of an ancient celebration of creation, mortality and rebirth.
However, after the festival was cancelled in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists Manolo Martin and Jose Ramon Espuig, as well as designer Escif, who were responsible for making the figure of the woman, placed a face mask on their creation.
The trio had asked the municipality to keep the monument in the city centre as a symbol of ‘patience, calm and hope’.
According to local media, the city council then decided to burn the body of the figure as it cannot be dismantled and was created to be burnt but symbolically spared the face of the woman wearing a mask.
The remaining piece will then be burnt in July.
The snaps show how the figure’s head was separated from its body which is seen in flames. Firefighters then put the flames out once the figure’s body had been destroyed and prevented the fire from spreading.
The Councillor of Culture of the Valencia City Council Carlos Galiana told local media: “It (the face) has become a symbol and it will disappear in July in flames as it is a custom which represents taking away everything that we don’t like. It is the essence of Las Fallas.”
Another 700 cardboard figures that had not yet been assembled when the city council decided to cancel the festival last week have been transferred to a municipal venue where they will be kept until July, when then will be burnt along with the masked figure’s face.
The city council reportedly kept the time and the date of the burning secret as they wanted to prevent local residents from gathering around the burning figure.
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