Tour and Anatomy of the Father Laburu’s Head

This exhibition project takes the heterogeneous character of the investigations carried out by Father Laburu (Bilbao 1887 –Rome 1972) as its starting point, with the aim of mapping his intellectual production by means of a journey which invites the spectator to enter the protagonist’s head.

  • From 4th December 2018 to 24th February 2019
  • From Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00-20:00.
  • Laboratory
  • Free Admission
  • A project by Oier Etxeberria
Tour and Anatomy of the Father Laburu’s Head
Tour and Anatomy of the Father Laburu’s Head
Tour and Anatomy of the Father Laburu’s Head

José Antonio Laburu Olascoaga (Bilbao 1887 –Rome 1972), known as Father Laburu, was one of the first documentary filmmakers in the Basque Country. His films about magic rituals in popular medicine, perception experiments carried out with animals, or zoos and psychiatric confinement sites, are a substantial legacy for so-called visual anthropology and, without any doubt, reveal a publicist (theologian, doctor and anthropologist) interested in delving into the dark side of rational and scientific thought.

The exhibition is made up of reproductions of different documentary records - texts, correspondence, recordings and a rich cinematographic legacy- conserved in the Historical and Musical Archive of the Sanctuary of Loyola in Azpeitia, the Benedictins Foundation in Lazkao and the Basque Film Institute.

1.- The reality of the invisible
In any religion, belief consists of accepting an invisible order to which it is necessary to adjust in the most harmonious way possible. Throughout his career, in the diverse situations in which Laburu encountered the phenomenon of visions, he warned about the dangers of industrialising these events through commercial and journalistic photographs and filming of visionaries in ecstasy.

2.- Animal hypnosis
Animal magnetism displayed an interest in the curative action of unknown forces which, at first, were located on a fixed plain (magnets, stones, trees, etc.), and then later moved on to the psychic plain (excitability, suggestion, desire, etc.). In this regard, it is the clearest historical forerunner of psychoanalysis, hypnosis and the psychology of the unconscious.

3.- Locuela
When he was on tour around Montevideo, Father Laburu had to travel to Santiago in Chile to interrogate and diagnose a patient who had been arrested and admitted to hospital a few days earlier. It was Domingo de Zárate, also known as The Christ of Elqui, a preacher from La Serena.

The growing somatisation of mental illness promoted by the medical profession at that time, together with the studies carried out by Father Laburu around psychopathological disorders and theological deviations, led him to this patient who at the time was a genuine mass phenomenon.

Activities (in spanish)


El animal coexistente, Andreas Wutz

  • 13 de diciembre | 19:00 
  • Libre hasta completar aforo

Sinesteko ikusi, Olatz González Abrisketa y Oier Etxeberria

  • 22 de febrero | 19:00 
  • Libre hasta completar aforo


San Sebastián, ciudad de la cultura

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  • Ayuntamiento de Donostia-San Sebastián
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  • Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa
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