PART ONE: TRI U DVA NE IDE
Five shots of the town’s disused cinema present a fleeting document
of the social space and history of Majdanpek, a devastated mining town
in Eastern Serbia, built up during a period of Yugoslav optimism in 1961
and obliterating the existing settlement almost in its entirety. The cyclical
gesture of entering the cinema, the expectations in starting afresh, tracing
the same route with different images and sounds, invite the audience to
enter between the shots and the frames and to explore their relationship
to the moving image and the spaces it inhabits.
Tri u dva ne ide attempts a cinematic reading of present day
cinematography (writing-in-movement) and a reading of contemporary representations
of Serbia. The challenge of the screen to the written word offers new
forms of palimpsest and a fresh demand for reading between the lines.
The bilingual texture is not a direct translation; instead it offers a
horizon with which to approach both the images and the ideas presented.
An ellipsis becomes a full stop. Lyrics to a pop song by Ceca Raznatovic
in brackets (Manta, manta) are replaced by the translation of
an elevated passage from Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic’s Prayers
at a Lake. Kokodzar, the name for the nearby mountain which holds
the town’s mine - meaningless in Serbian, through English is restored
to its original meaning of “blackberry hill” in the oral language
of the local Vlah people.
Tri u dva ne ide is also an inquiry into truth through the form
of documentary realism. Pivotal is not only the form employed, but the
question: who speaks and in whose name? Songs, political slogans, public
pronouncements, prayers and overheard conversations all intermingle as
historical records. They present simultaneously two contradictory conceptions
of history: history as a narrative and history as that which is recorded
in a particular medium.
The to-ing and fro-ing of the camera and the text finds its culmination
in the dash between two towns: Majdanpek and Vicenza, home and diaspora.
This last image stands for a community which has for centuries been brought
together and torn asunder by capital and modes of production. It remains
consciously inadequate, unlike a plaque, of the space and time which are
condensed in that symbol.
PART TWO: TWICE SHY
A single uninterrupted shot of Majdanpek’s open mine in 4:3 aspect
ratio is tilted so that its diagonal fits the 16:9 masking. It exemplifies
that widescreen is suitable not only for coffins and snakes, but likewise
for text. It stretches the tension between home video and cinema, the
public and private, the lived and the represented, between offscreen space
and the proscenium.
The image forms a texture in italics, its offset colours forming a dialogue
of the video grain with itself. In contrast with part one, Twice Shy is
an exploration of the industrial landscape and its main movement derives
from the camera’s indifference.
The image, sound and text present alternating movements between figure
and ground. Several contradictions are elaborated upon: the image recorded
in Majdanpek and projected in London, the sounds recorded in London and
the silence of the footage in Majdanpek, the silence surrounding a text
and the silence within a text. The rhythm of the writing on screen takes
its cues from the rhythms of an audio recording of a reading of the text,
and remains the only index of the movements of the human body.
As the archaeological texture shifts from dialectical materialism to spiritual
meditation, from confession to abstract speculation, the text undertakes
a historical journey from the mid-19th century to the present day and
a spatial one from Majdanpek to London. This process runs parallel to
the movement of the words, the excavation of their different etymologies,
and their tides within the dramatic structures of language.
Camera - Tri u dva ne ide: Srdjan Mitrovic
Sound- Twice Shy: Alex Impey
Spaces and times: Rastko Novakovic
Recorded in the town of Majdanpek, above Majdanpek’s mine, in Victoria
Park and in the vicinity of the Westerkerk in Amsterdam,
between August 2006 and January 2007.
Thank you: Noa Treister, Sasa Markovic Mikrob, Jan Adriaans, svi Majdanpecani
- vidjeni i nevidjeni, Free Cinema Seven.