The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb

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They should start with silence

MSU and Pogon Jedinstvo, Tuesday, 7. May 2019, 18 i 20 h

Beyond the Choir, Sabina Mikelić's installation or artistic exploration, reveals several key terms: voice, chance and rootedness. The filmmaker's approach to voice, i.e. sound is somewhat similar to that of celebrated performer Joan La Barbara.

She accepts sound as an instrument relevant for the widened experience; in Sabina's case, the experience is both aural and visual. Thus the voice becomes the backbone of the multi-channel installation which simultaneously explores the possibilities of sound, voice and silence within the language of film, the mutuality of the film's protagonist and the director, while analyzing the relationship and meanings, or rather, the affective and cognitive relations with ''our islet'', as Sabina calls her home island, Rab. The human voice (often in the local idiom) or (traditional) song becomes the catalyst for nonlinear storytelling in a lot of frames. Sabina stresses the importance of voice in the resolution of an intergenerational trauma – while filming her family, she suggests they should ''start with silence'', allowing the voice, uncontrolled laughter and, finally, songs, to encourage the healing of the trauma.

Furthermore, the voice is an instrument which explains and connects the knowledge, memory and meanings which individuals or groups associate with a specific location. What is interesting here is Sabina's resistance towards the visual stereotypes of the Mediterranean landscape. For instance, she doesn't show us the tourist bella vista of white rocks and blue sea. Her scenes are either documentary or poetically realistic, organized so as to structure the physical and social relationships, i.e. the socially constructed rootedness in a certain location.

It is precisely through voice and its connection to specific locations that Sabina introduces playing, that is, chance. She suggests, in voice off, to one of the protagonists in front of the camera: ''You will play yourself, I'l play the film director, and nobody will know what is supposed to happen.'' The exploration both problematizes and emphasizes Sabina and her ''relationship between the director and protagonist intermediated by the act of filming, where the frame becomes a location of meeting, vulnerability and strengthening''. In the series of test shots which the director presents to the audience within the priceless exploration processes entitled Filming beyond – voicing relations, final visual forms gradually emerge in the shape of biographic and autopiographic elements and relations evoking certain island locations. The director points out that the filming process is somewhat transparent: ''we don't hide the fact that we are filming, the mistakes become parts of the process.'' Finally, the invisible, non-material qualities of island spaces and the people who populate them become building elements of the visual essays pivotal to the revelation, i.e. de/construction of the director's fluid identities.

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