The Exposition of Ninots

Before they’re placed within their Falla, the best ninots from every Fallas commission are displayed in the annual Exposición del Ninot at the Museum of Science. Like so much at Fallas, this is a competition… and from the ninot’s point of view, the prize is of utmost importance. The best one, as chosen by the general public, will be spared the flames of the Cremà.

Ninot exhibition Fallas 2015

Opening a few weeks ahead of Fallas, the Exposición del Ninot gives Valencian their first enticing taste of the long-awaited festival. Which political figures will be mocked? What popular trends will be prevalent? What will be the general artistic direction for each of the big Fallas commissions?

In 2015, favorite political targets include Germany’s Geldautomat Angela Merkel and Pablo Iglesias, leader of Spain’s upstart left-wing party, Podemos. There were a lot of ninots which lampoon humanity’s new obsession with “selfies” and innumerable references to Spain’s corruption scandals, many of which are especially relevant in Valencia.

Not all of the ninots are political in nature, or have some sort of subversive message. Some are silly, or mawkishly sentimental, such as those featuring kindly old grandparents and their rascally grandchildren. Others portray young falleros in love, or old-fashioned street scenes from Valencia’s past. And then, just as you’re feeling nostalgic and romantic, there’s a ninot of a sun-burnt tourist with her boobs hanging out. Or a borderline racist depiction of Native Americans. Or a dirty bum pooping on the toilet.

Ninot Falla Na Jordana Fallas 2015

But this is what makes the exhibition such fun to visit: the imaginative variety of the ninots and their no-holds-barred humor. It’s almost impossible to leave without having been moved, shocked, disgusted, amused and impressed, at least once each. This year, the strangest ninot I saw was a straight-forward statue of a man, simply standing there, naked. A box had been erected around him, ostensibly to protect young eyes from his rather imposing appendage. But since you had to approach the box and view the nakedness through a type of peephole, it took on a creepily voyeuristic tone.

Depending on your level of interest, touring the Exposición del Ninot can take a long time — there are hundreds on display, and you’ll want to linger at many of them. The artistic talent is top-notch, and it confounds belief that they’ll all soon be going up in smoke. All except the ninot which the public most loves. We put our votes in for Na Jordana, whose sleek and beautifully-designed space-themed ninot promised great things for their monument. (Sadly, our votes didn’t matter; this ninot didn’t win and was set aflame, like almost all the others.)

Update: In 2016, the Exposition of Ninots was moved from its long time home at the Nuevo Centro, to the City of Arts and Sciences, in the Museo Príncipe Felipe.

Exposición del Ninot – Website

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