- Silphium (Lina Selander, Sweden, 2014, 22', b&w, digital)
- Allures (Jordan Belson, USA, 1961, 8', colour, 16mm
- Photophtalmia (Werner Nekes, Germany, 1975, 28', colour, 16mm
- Temenos (Nina Danino, Great Britain/France, 1998, 75', colour / b&w, digital
Curated by Gawan Fagard
In the first sequences of Lina Selander´s new film, a story is told about the ancient, now extinct, plant silphium. The plant grew on the coast outside the North African town Cyrene - a settlement of Greeks from the over populated island of Thera in 630 BC - which became the main town in the Greek colony, situated in today´s Libya. The plant was famous for it´s medical usage (it was used as a contraceptive and abortifacient) and for it´s richness in flavour, which made it the base of the colony´s export. Its importance for the economic wealth was so crucial that the image of silphium was imprinted on the coins. When exploitation of the plant led to extinction, the city declined. As is often the case in Selander´s works, the film builds on layers of images and meaning, layers that link history and pre-history to contemporary society, and in which nature as a prerequisite for life is one of the focal points. The human strive for development and expansion, the desire for control over nature, and above all - visual control, depiction and surveillance, is always met by another contradicting force. The nature looks back at us, its eyes empty - a reoccurring image in Selander´s film.
In Silphium this double movement of visual and earthly mastery and its opposite - loss of visual control, awareness of vulnerability - is first expressed in a shot of the famous 16th century painting The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein. The ambassadors are depicted together with the emblems of wealth and superiority of the countries they are the representatives for. A contradicting image is hidden until you view the painting from a specific angle, but when you do a human skull becomes visible, the sign of mortality. Selander lets the image oscillate in and out of visibility; the painted image emerges as in a rupture of light in the dark whilst mumbling voices count - numbers, years maybe. The sound fragment is a loan from Chris Marker´s 1962 film La Jetée - another important point of reference. The films narrative tells the story of how a man is used in time travel experiments in order to save the world. He travels through sediments of memory and images, much in the same way as Selander´s film, only to return to his beginning.
The references to Holbein and Marker are subtle points of departure in Selander´s film, as is the history of silphium. From these points the film unfolds in an essayistic narrative, in which the artist make use of image material and sound from different sources - her own footage and still images, quotes and archive material. The Stasi archive and museum in Berlin as well as the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Trondheim have been important sources. Her deep interest in the notion of image as memory, imprint, representation and surface is at the core of the work. The appearance of the image, the fact of its existence in the first place, its relation to the seeing and the gaze and to image technology, is never unquestioned. - (Text: Helena Holmberg)
This experimental short by the american avant-garde filmmaker Jordan Belson is described as one of his „space-iest" films, using an evocative combination of abstract sound and light effects projected directly onto the celluloid surface ofh the film.
An adventure film, a journey into light. "This film is dedicated to Joseph Plateau, the discoverer of the cinematographic principle, who, while exploring the inertia of perception, stared into the sun until he was blinded. I made this film because I love the ending of the 'Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym' by Edgar Allan Poe." - (Werner Nekes)
"In Temenos I wanted to clear a space. The landscape is empty yet something happens; a disquieting dimension manifests itself in this becalmed landscape. Nature and ordinary things such as a tree or the sound of a bee acquire a heightened presence" (Nina Danino).
'Temenos' means a sacred site or ritual precinct. The film Temenos explores the phenomenon of visionary experience, taking the viewer to locations where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, including Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje in Croat-occupied Bosnia where the visions continue. Nina Danino films the landscapes that have witnessed these transcendental appearances, imbuing them with a sense of the sacred.
These locations are both specific and unknown since viewers are never told where they are. Instead they are taken on a journey, during which they experience the raw exposure of emotion and the haunting voices that appear on the soundtrack.
The operatic soprano Catherine Bott, the Tuvan diva Sainkho Namchylak and the New York experimental vocalist Shelley Hirsch all deliver extraordinary performances. Across the landscape these voices weep bitterly, hum gently or give vent to unearthly sounds, sounds of nature, the screams of dementia or angelic arias.
Both black&white and colour film is used and the camera's circular panning movements give a feeling of otherworldly weightlessness; Nina Danino herself reads from the memoirs of visionaries.