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29 January 2024
This month's topic: PeripheriesResident Editor: Joaquín García Martín


There is an Instagram account where you can find the peripheral Macarena that corresponds to your zodiac sign. The Esperanza Macarena resides in a basilica attached to the San Gil Church in Seville, but there are countless peripheral Macarenas that, located around the world, spread her image and presence. She is everywhere and can reach the most distant land without even having to leave her house. As the peripherals demonstrate, her power is such that it is impossible to conceive of an outside, a distance from her, something beyond her reach. For her, the periphery does not exist because everything that exists remains under her mantle. She exists even before the possibility of existence. She is the mother of God. If there is anything useful in Christianity, it is the certainty that God has a mother. You come to understand that in Seville, thanks to hyperbole, you can go very far with thought and imagination.

The San Gil church impresses us with the wonder of its own existence. The peripheral Macarenas, however, impress us with the precision with which they embody the Freudian concept of the sinister, Das Unheimliche, a strange familiarity, like the phrase “they say it’s her but it’s not her.” We could easily fall into temptation and, letting ourselves be carried away by the sinister impression produced by the peripherals, get entangled in the original-copy question, similar or not so similar, but that’s not the point. Instead, it is a matter of trying to understand what all these presences do and, ultimately, of venturing into the future that Macarena and her peripherals portend.

Both the Sevillian Macarena and her peripheral are dolls. It’s best to say that up front. They are people made of wood, iron, silk, lace, gold, more gold, even more gold and all kinds of precious stones. In none of them are there any veins, blood, muscle, humors, functions, or liquids, as they are Bodies without Organs made from the intensity that passes through them. To deny or evade her concrete materiality, to believe that She represents something other than what She is, is to miss the mark. Her figures don’t fool anyone. It is precisely the fact that they are hollow bodies, stripped of any solid center, that allows them to exist as pure enunciation, as pure pronouncement. In case you haven’t realized it yet, they are performance.

In these hollow bodies, stories are suspended and another time emerges in which adventures are not needed to exist. Yes, true, there is the narrative context of the Passion of Christ, but She does not exist because of that, She is not part of a scene, She is not a character. She exists long before the text and She has not come to illustrate anything. Once again, her job is none other than to exist and to pronounce her presence, nothing else.

The Esperanza Macarena of San Gil celebrates two great moments a year. It is true that her calendar can be occasionally dotted with other extraordinary events, but mostly everything is concentrated during those two occasions. The first moment of maximum splendor takes place during the early hours of the day, from Thursday night to Friday morning, on the first full moon after the spring equinox. From that night until the following noon, She is carried by her servants out into the street and around the city, around her neighborhood and then back to her house. On this occasion, She is in motion while people calmly await her arrival. The second moment takes place at the end of autumn, in the last week of Advent, just before the winter solstice, when She is lowered to the ground so that her servants can kiss her colorful wooden hands. On this occasion, She remains still while people must come to her.

Her hollow body, covered in layers and layers of wonder, is freed from all forms of subjection. She is, above all, an object, and her body is a vanishing point. In this sense, She is the Other, that which appears on the other side of the hegemonic mandate of classical epistemology, not as a binary opposition but as an excess, an overflow of being condemned to be someone. For as José Luis Pardo puts it, “being someone is a complication of the complication” (La intimidad, 1996:44)

In her now classic reflection on the classical episteme, perspective, the resurrected body of Christ, and wounds, Peggy Phelan proposes the following: “Within the arco of resemblance and mimesis that perspective inaugurates, the stand-in stands in for a real that, like God and the Other, forever eludes us. The point is not so much to ‘find’ the Other, but rather to play the drama in such a way that the stands-in come to reveal that the kernel of the drama of the other is that the Other is always a stand-in.[1]“Within the arco of resemblance and mimesis that perspective inaugurates, the stand-in stands in for a real that, like God and the Other, forever eludes us. The point is not so much to “find” … Continue reading” (Mourning Sex, 1997:33).

Macarena and her peripherals are substitutes. They are bodies that are not bodies, exempt and freed from the burden of being and that, thanks to this, reveal that there is no other place than this, that the wonder is already here and does not come from another dimension other than the one we share with her. The Other, The God-like, finally, refers once again to the “infinity of matter” (J. Á. Valente, Notas de un simulador, 1997: 23). Thus, following Phelan, the question would not be so much of finding a real that confirms and certifies the certainty of otherness, but rather to participate in a staging in which the authentic subversive power of substitutes is revealed.

I have (loosely) translated as “substitute” the expression “stand-in” used by Phelan in the original text cited above. Thus, according to Phelan, the Other would be something that literally “stands-in,” and therefore we can think that the action of substituting has something to do with standing in place. Despite not having legs, La Macarena is always standing, always erect in her place, impassively marking the site of the daily miracle, signaling with her posture her nature stripped of itself.

The people in La Macarena form a mass of bodies. Whenever we can we go to her, filling the street as she passes by, lining up to kiss her hand or entering her basilica whenever we walk by. Our life is not measured in years but in times that She has overwhelmed us. Now, for example, I have been writing since my childhood.


When She is taken out into the street at the beginning of spring, she is accompanied by her servants. Ahead of them, six thousand bodies advancing in ranks announce her arrival. These bodies are all covered with the same uniform habit under which race, sex and class are cancelled. The habit suspends any form of visual control over the bodies that wear them, they are the green blood that spills through the streets anticipating what is to come, a green shadow that overcomes any distraction in its path. She is coming.

Beneath her, beneath her movement, her immense weight, her skirts, the patriarchal forces conveniently subdued and stripped of their privileges follow. When She is in the street, they are her submissive slaves. They have neither image nor voice and their strength only serves to help carry her. Hidden, bunched together, subjected and invisible within the movement, the bodies of men do what they do best, that is, they put their strength at the service of their Lady.

Somewhere along the way, there you are. You’ve been waiting for hours. Your body hurts but you can no longer even feel it. Then you see her appear in the background and there is no turning back because your body is already mass, your limits have dissolved, you have become part of the scene. The time it takes to travel the distance between your body and hers is a moment of agony and an abyss. Then She arrives, passes before you, destroys you, overwhelms you, burns you, leaves you in ashes and disappears. At that very moment, with your eyes still sore, the wait for the following year begins.

Recently, Paul B. Preciado explained, with the audacity that characterizes him, how petrosexorracial capitalism, in its most perfected version, produces addicted bodies (2022:357-58). We are all dependent junkies who work, get married and consume alone, without the need for anyone outside to monitor, coerce or force us to do so. The bad life to which the hegemonic regime in which we live condemns us has colonized our insides. That is clear. However, the devotional practices that develop around La Macarena might speak of another, different destiny from the one that the petrosexorracial regime has prepared for us. Our junkie bodies have the power to become hooked not only on hegemonic subjectivity but also on certain substitutes. Our junkie bodies know that, if one is clever, substitutes can produce a convenient reality. Our junkie bodies know very effective ways to bring us together in pure joyful and collective thrill. Esperanza Macarena and everything that is unleashed around her is the proof.

Devotion is unleashed in the presence of La Macarena and in its peripheral areas, as well. In their presence, addicted bodies stop obeying the mandates of neocapitalism and surrender to practices that go beyond all hegemonic and authorized social logic. In the body of La Macarena and her peripherals, in everything that her appearance produces in our bodies of flesh, something can be glimpsed that may be speaking of a future different from the one we can now imagine. Perhaps in the blissful meeting between addiction and devotion a more than fortunate future is unfolding in which we will be able to dedicate ourselves body and soul to the celebration of the holidays that continue to mark the passage of time in our lives. Perhaps in the devotional practice of our addicted, communal bodies, an unexpected crack is opening. Perhaps the time has come to accept once and for all that La Macarena and her peripherals, in reality, come from a future that we can only intuit at this moment.

Which peripheral Macarena are you according to your sign?

1 “Within the arco of resemblance and mimesis that perspective inaugurates, the stand-in stands in for a real that, like God and the Other, forever eludes us. The point is not so much to “find” the Other, but rather to play the drama in such a way that the stands-in come to reveal that the kernel of the drama of the other is that the Other is always a stand-in.”

Jaime Conde-Salazar s.u.s. (Madrid, 1974) holds a degree in Art History (1997, Universidad Complutense de Madrid). He obtained his MA in Performance Studies (2002, New York University) thanks to an MEC-Fulbright scholarship. Between 2009 and 2010 he was a fellow at the Real Academia de España in Rome where he became a blonde lady. In 2015 he published his first book La danza del futuro (Contintametienes). That same year Bárbara Sánchez introduced him to the Macarena cults and has recognised herself as a servant ever since. Over the years she has accompanied the creative processes of artists such as Antonio Tagliarini, Aimar Pérez Galí, Bárbara Sánchez and La Ribot. At present, she is trying to finish her doctoral thesis while producing devotions in earthenware in an uncontrolled way.

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