LAB: Rituals, Loops + Dances

Programme Lab Friday, June 8th | 22:00 h | B-Movie
Programme Lab Sunday, June 10th | 17:00 h | Metropolis

This year’s lab programme dedicates itself to those rituals that occasionally lend form and structure to complex realities in a chaotic world. The repetitions, sounds, coordinated movement sequences of rituals create a kind of timelessness which intensively touches the consciousness of spectators and listeners. The ritual is a form of communication and interaction between performers and viewers. Arguably, it is the beginning of all art as well. Personal rituals in everyday life facilitate and organize the way humans deal with the world’s inherent adversities.

In her film studies, Maya Deren repeatedly dealt with the phenomenon of the ritual from an ethnological-artistic perspective in several choreographies. In her film ›Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti‹, the film maker dives deeply into the world of Haitian syncretic ceremonies. The physical dimension of these religious gatherings becomes particularly noticeable when she takes her camera into the circle of trance dancers during a voodoo ritual. The films she shot in the USA consistently dealt with forms of dance and choreographed motion sequences. In this programme, we show 16mm copies of the films ›Meditation on Violence‹ and ›Ritual in Transfigured Time‹ from the 1940s. Maya Deren’s works were an essential source of inspiration for the New American Cinema experimental film makers in the 1950s and 1960s, and Stan Brakhage wrote about her work: »She is the mother«.

Dance as a ritualized form in the interplay of bodies inspired Miranda Pennell in her cinematic observations as well. In her film ›Fisticuffs‹, the choreography of a bar brawl turns into a kind of ritualized performance full of quotations from westerns, referencing seemingly archetypical forms of highly reduced ›communication‹ in an endless loop.

The film ›Flying Image‹ display the loop’s ritual character by using classic animations. A hovering camera eye is roaming through the human cosmos of birth, childhood, love, crime, death and devil - a mercilessly repetitive rollercoaster ride on the Moebius strip of our lives. This closed-circuit drama gets its hypnotic effect from the ongoing metamorphoses and transitions of a ›spaceflight’s‹ impressions.

The short music ethnographical documentary ›Master Musicians of Joujouka‹ approaches a group of Moroccan musicians who are creating an archaic soundscape with their wind instruments and drums. The ritual lasts several hours and it combines a myth reminiscent of the ancient story of the god Pan and his reed flute with Sufism’s ecstatic practices. The music and its accompanying performance have been fascinating literary figures and musicians from the Beat generation and related schools of thought since the mid-50s. A perfect example for this is the first world music record ›The Pipes of Joujouka‹, which Brian Jones produced with the Master Musicians ensemble in the late 60s. These archaic sounds were able to develop undisturbed over centuries while retaining their raw energy by getting passed on in a small independent cultural circle.

The TV production ›Quad 1‹, in which Samuel Becket used four perfectly synchronized runners to stage the ritual as an eternal ›treadmill‹, finds itself in the borderland between philosophy, film and choreography. His radically minimalistic study on the mindless disciplining and conditioning of the human existence in ritualistic activities feels especially relevant in an age of automatization and self-optimization.

The meditative use of found footage, the dissection of filmstrips into loops and the immersion in single picture particle resemble a ritual as well. In the case of ›Films to Break Projectors‹, this cutting, gluing and the associated reflection on the mechanics of the cinematographic illusion machine creates another glittering wonder in the field of found footage experiments.

The polyrhythmic loops of Steve Reich’s minimal music compositions translate the idea and atmosphere of the ritual into the sound of repeating patterns. Inspired by minimal music, the collective EMA’s ›Experiment Nr. 9‹ examines the possibilities of retranslating these patterns into a light ritual.

The last film of the programme dedicates itself to the eternally recurrent ritual of human collaboration in BUILDING and DESTRUCTION from the perspective of the architect William von Allen and his collaborator Zaha Hadid. ›Fête moderne‹ fast-forwards through the one thing mankind loves to do with reckless abandon between constructing and destroying cities: PARTYING + DANCING.

Film selection Hanna Nordholt+Fritz Steingrobe

Hanna Nordholt and Fritz Steingrobe are film makers and curators.

Presented in collaboration with the Triennal of Photography