What does it mean to be Basque, and why has this question become more complicated in the twenty-first century? An examination of several artists and their work provide possible answers to this question. American avant-garde artist Man Ray produced an experimental silent film in 1926 entitled Emak Bakia. Why he used this Basque phrase—which roughly translates as “Leave me alone”— is a mystery that has never been solved. In 2012, Basque filmmaker Oskar Alegria decided to track down the source of Ray’s inspiration in his documentary, The Search for Emak Bakia, 2012. By a strange twist of circumstance, searching for Alegria’s film turns out to be as difficult as solving the mystery of Emak Bakia. The film has never been shown in the United States, though a private copy was made available to the author of this article with the director’s permission. A Maurice Ravel musical composition and Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture in the Basque Country also help to explore this question. Together, the nuances of these collective artistic endeavors and their focus on “what is not” can suggest an alternative way to think about “what is.”
"We Can Only Say What a Basque Is Not,"
BOGA: Basque Studies Consortium Journal: Vol. 10
, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/boga/vol10/iss1/2