El jardín de los faunos (The Garden of Fauns)

Pol Merchan &

EL JARDÍN DE LOS FAUNOS is an experimental documentary portraying Nazario Luque, a polyhedric artist and outspoken gay man whose explicit homoerotic comics were first published in Spain in the 1970s during the time of Franco’s dictatorship. Combining 16 mm film and digital video, the work interlaces two different generations of filming technology and queer history in the context of Barcelona’s socio-cultural evolution. Nazario’s lifelong bond with his partner Alejandro is a point of departure that demonstrates how life events, body politics, and artistic expression are deeply intertwined.

Nazario moved to Barcelona in the 1970s, shortly after realizing that his sexually liberal and politically radical views were incompatible with his social surroundings and the Catholic region of Andalusia. At the time, Barcelona had a large underground community where queer modes of living were being practiced, although it was hard and dangerous since homosexuality was still illegal. Nazario’s zines circulated clandestinely and nurtured a visual culture for the empowerment of dissident bodies, in particular queers and trans* people, contributing to the community in the context of a violently repressive system. Born out of Merchan’s wish to reconnect with his own roots in Catalonia, the film was originally inspired by Jean Genet’s The Thiefʼs Journal. The book mentions ›Anarcoma‹, one of Nazario Luque’s most successful graphic novels, featuring a transfeminine detective as protagonist.

The film displays snippets of Nazario’s work, which includes illustrations, paintings, comics, and photographs spanning over half a century of artistic labor, entangled with the erotic force that has been driving him his entire life. Merchanʼs 16 mm voyeuristic shots from Nazario’s windows looking out on the Plaza Real blur the boundaries between the private and the public sphere where, after his partner’s death, Nazario engaged in community work by cooking for the homeless, dissident bodies themselves. In this intimate dialogue, Nazario recounts the way his relationship with Alejandro evolved over time, rejecting exclusivity and embracing, instead, the bliss and the suffering that come with practicing non-normative modes of living. Merchan chooses to portray their bond in a highly romanticized way, aiming to reveal the other side of the couple’s perversions and desires and, more generally, how relationships between gay men are often hypersexualised, showing how eroticism, even in its extreme forms, can coexist with tenderness, affection, and intimacy. (Vanina Saracino)

Supported by Stiftung Kunstfonds, QueerScope-Kurzfilmförderung and FFA Filmförderungsanstalt

*We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist.

Images: Pol Merchan, El jardín de los faunos, 2022 © Pol Merchan

About the video

Title El jardín de los faunos (The Garden of Fauns)
Year 2022
Videonale VIDEONALE.19
Length 00:24:09
Format 4:3
Country Germany, Spain,
Language Spanish with English or German subtitles
Courtesy of the artist
Specifications color, sound, single-channel video

About the artist

Pol Merchan
  • 1980 in Lleida, ESP, lives and works in Berlin, GER.
    Studied at the University of Fine Arts, Barcelona, ESP, and at the University of Fine Arts, Berlin, GER

Insights at Videonale X

desktop selfie
Pol Merchan talks about his need to reconnect with Barcelona after 15 years of living in Berlin and about his coffee date with Nazario, pioneer of the gay graphic novel.