LENA HERZOG / interview

By Juan Maria Rodriguez
Published: April 30, 2002


"My father, who is a scientist had a huge library. Books of all sorts ... a lot on philosophy ... In this library there were also art books, the Caprichos and the Tauromaquia by Goya among them, ...each time I come to Spain I go to the Prado to see the originals. The period of Goya that is called oscuro ("dark") does not seem dark to me at all, it is beautiful, ingenious."

"Slickness of anything, a person or a thing is worthless to me. What matters is a force, and that is what I found in late Goya - great force."

"Now, we live amidst devaluated images from the world of fashion and advertising. And even some photography that intends (or pretends) to be documentary is just a slick add except without a product to sell (but with an aesthetic of an add). I've seen so many pictures of bullfighters, mostly: no shirt, sweaty chest, tight pants and a "haba-haba" look to the camera. Like a Calvin Klein underwear commercial. It bores me."

"... photography is not a "truthful" art, it's full of lies."

"Don't bullfights seem cruel to you? - I am not a vegetarian. I am not a hypocrite either, I love jamon and my shoes are made of leather."

"I do not know any torero personally. I was never really interested. What toreros do in the arena, now - that interested me. Also, their faces before they enter it. They are afraid, truly and genuinely afraid"

"Bullfight is like a Chinese box with many little secrets. ... It is not linear, it is crude and beautiful, has kitsch and, at the same time, it has something profound and is full of history. It is medieval and it is archetypal."

"For me, bullfight is a metaphor for a civilization. Humans, weak animals, triumphed over other stronger than them animals through instruments and intelligence. Bullfight is the civilization's last direct metaphor: triumph over other species."

"There is something else: we need to see death. Every day, somewhere someone dies, tragically and without witnesses. It means only a cold statistic to us. We must see death to understand it at least a bit. We should at least know from where comes the leather of our shoes. These days, we live in the world where death is something you only see in Hollywood: a caricature. So, we are incapable to see a real thing."

"The audience comes to a bullfight to dream of heroism which is why they scream insults to the cowardly toreros. People pay to see a hero."