For us, the first event of Fallas is always a visit to the Ninot Exhibition. Ninots are the smaller figures which make up the large Fallas monuments, and every commission sends their best one to the Exhibition. Visiting gives you a sense of the year’s popular themes and styles, and provides hints as to which displays are likely to be really good.
This year, the trend was a use of sustainable materials, with a lot of figures opting for what might be called a “street art” style. This might be because the main Fallas figure of 2020 is being designed by Escif, a famed street artist from Valencia. His central piece will be a massive woman seated in the lotus position, spinning around her own axis every 24 hours, in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento. And talking of sustainable materials, climate change and the plastic choking our oceans was a popular topic, influencing a lot of figures.
Much less common this year are the figures which single out groups, and which depend upon easy stereotypes. There also seemed to be fewer perverted figures than years past (except for one, which almost made me scream when I spotted it. So naughty, I kind of love it!) We also expected to see more political figures; not a single Trump nor Merkel ninot was to be seen. But we did spot Rosalia (though her figure wasn’t too flattering) and Greta Thunberg (whose figure was even less so). And yes, all these ninots are going to be burned on the last day of Fallas, March 19th… unless the coronavirus forces the cancellation the festival.