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Saturday, 15 March 2014

{Odes to the light} ::: Photographs from A White Summer, plus three things connected to it

I'm finally finding my time to talk some more about A White Summer, the performance I and Natalja Heybroek made in Amsterdam, at the Vondelpark, the past June. But don't worry, while I rumble you can enjoy some of the photographs taken by Marilù Pace and edited by Dorotea Pace. More of the pictures are also on the Natalja's Facebook page and on my Behance.

Me, Natalja and Marilù, during the preparation

First thing

If you watched the video of the performance, you, who knows, may had doubts and wonders, but I bet you were feeling a perfectly harmonic match with the music, didn't you? Yes, I know.

Well, there is a story to tell.

The night after the performance, I opened my editing software with all the video footage.
About the audio, I and Natalja didn't have straight plans, we improvised most of the performance, but the idea was to use the original audio from the park and to maybe add a bit of music, but keeping it more like a documentary than like a music video. Something like that. And we didn't know which music to use, although I pictured before that Heidi Harris' atmosphere could easily fit ours. And I knew Heidi were happy with that, she told me many times when we were working at her music video Animal Insect that I had to feel free about her music. But nothing was sure and even still had to let her know about I was doing.
Anyway, that night I was feeling inspired to edit, so I started to browse Heidi's songs, looking for the right one. I started to select some tracks and I sent her an e-mail to have the original files, because I had only some on my computer. In those hours, though, Heidi wasn't online and I was too inspired to wait. Furthermore, I already had the one that I was probably liking better, Carved In.
So I tried to put that song in the timeline of the software. First I putted the whole track there with a whole uncut videoclip, just as starting point, thinking to move them soon – as often one does when edits video without a storyboard. Let's see how the audio and video tracks go together. So, random, I played the timeline as it was. And how was it? Man. How was it.

(When I noticed the framed portrait in the Helena Sanders' atelier where we got ready, I think I screamed for joy.
If you also recognise that asshole, you win a kiss-thought.)

That's how it was: already totally synchronised. Yep.
When Heidi watched it, afterwards, she said that it looks like the video is made for the song – or vice versa.
Thing is: of course there are cuts that we decided to put to show many moments of our long performance, since the beginning till the end in a few minutes, but that first clip looked like it was already cut on the audio track.
That fuckin' inspired night, when I watched all that harmony shaped chaos, I was sincerely shocked and moved, I couldn't really believe my eyes.
I would you to understand at least the strongest instants (apart of all the sweet shades which lovely create this match)…
On the bridge, at 03:01 a growing far sound reaches us and the song has a sudden and charming turning point into an experimental parenthesis without refrains or anything which you can predict. If you opened the previous link, you see how the camera follows those strings because it's following that dog, who suddenly left. And then the camera turns again on me: each its movement, the zoom, each movement of my neck and of my gaze, are just perfectly reacting to the music. I swear: when this happened on my monitor without any editing, I had goosebumps, maybe I cried. I had this huge sensation all that was designed. But not by us, not by anyone of us.
At that point, of course I let the video go, to see what was next.
Please, I want to make it clear: I know you now see some cuts: again, that's because we had much more footage and much more performance to show, so we added further parts on this main clip I'm telling played so specially. But we didn't move it, we just putted other moments "on" it in the timeline, so what was on a certain timing before by itself, from that clip, still it's there. With just some extra glimpses from other moments (which also fit it marvellously, I must say). If you are a little confident with editing software or the concept of the layers, this is very easy to understand.
From 04:13 I shake Natalja's knees and from the song a sort of waterfall just dresses the scene.
Everything is happening in those minutes looks synchronised by magic to me.
How at 05:05 the Heidi's voice finally comes back like by the awakening after a trance and the camera looks disorientated as well.
She says "and you can go". While the camera goes, clearly hold by someone (who is Dorotea, Dorotea, thank you, Dorotea…). You can go, and the that someone responses…
At 05:37.
At 05:37.
Well, this is the only moment Natalja and I moved a little further, editing during the following weeks, but in the beginning… in the beginning I was hugging the tree exactly when Heidi sings "my friend". Still the two things coincide, she sings that when we hug the tree.
When this "happened" that my first editing night, I was liking very much this sweet idea that this way looked like the friend from Heidi's voice was that tree. But that's just because we are damned tree huggers, of course.
I didn't know there was much more, pretty hot to handle…
We discovered it only when, the following day, Heidi watched the preview that I sent her and goosebumps and tears went on her skin too…
This is something very personal from Heidi's life, so, please, read it with all your kindness.

This song, Carved In, is dedicated to a Heidi's friend. A friend who she lost – that's what she felt.
All the album Cut the Line is about a loss and I knew this before by Heidi, working on its artwork, but I didn't know anything about this loss. No clue about which kind of loss this was. Never asked.
But when I sent the video preview to Heidi, she had to tell me this story, about the friend she lost.
When she was watching this totally unexpected performance from us, she was very impressed already because of how the Friendship idea shines so much, in this video. That's no surprise, I and and Natalja have a wonderful connection, but it's funny because the friendship itself wasn't among the concepts we wanted to explore; we wanted more to explore the freedom, the nature. But, yeah, what we have done was possible because we were playing within the kingdom of the love, of the friendship. And that's what was first powerful to Heidi's eyes: a friendship of two women, on her song about a friendship of two women.
And this could be enough. Instead it is not all.
That friend, that friend she called while we hug the tree, that friend, during their break point, that friend had a tree as avatar.
Trees were already symbolising that specific friend, to Heidi.

A while after our performance, after years, Heidi told me that she found that friend again.

(You know, sometimes you can go through very hard troubles even with your loved ones. Remember all you have to do is to communicate, to share…)

Second thing

…We are free, we don't care, we are open minded, we are true, we may walk totally naked among strangers. That's more or less how we felt.
When we watched the video footage, though, both of us were somehow ashamed. How much skin! Bums! Bums! Bums!
The first time I watched I was alone and I have to admit I got a very extreme reaction of pain: pain watching my body and, frame by frame, noticing imperfections, maybe those dear feminine shadows somewhere. Yay. I was understanding that it was stupid and I was twice ashamed of myself because I should not have such a mentality, but so it was. I remember some moments feeling all my blood coming to my face and feeling liquid eyes because of how strong was the shame and the pain, the doubt about what I had done, going around that way – plus that ironic awareness of having all these thought on a video which should instead be a hymn to the freedom.
I was feeling like an inappropriate sack of potatoes. And contemplating how Natalja is lucky instead, with a body that allows her to do no matters what, always being so greatly elegant.
So, while editing that night, I left more shots with her perfect shapes and I cut some which didn't make me feel comfortable at all.

Then the video was in Natalja's hands, she kept editing it as well on her own.
When I went to her place to see together her changes, she told me she putted some more shots with my body instead of hers, because she was a little ashamed of her that nudity around.
How ironic is this?
So I told her my feelings and we had to laugh loud as we know how to do. And she also blamed me a bit, because, of course, my feelings were way far from the concepts we celebrated ourselves.

I'm very happy I went through this little experience, because I could actually realise better and better where this society brings and improve my awareness, therefore now I'm telling this with much lightness and smiles – and it's pretty cool, thinking to those stupid hours of fears: fear of being judged, for sure, fear of not being liked. I know it's ridiculous, that's why I'm telling it.
I'm lucky, in the end, and I have my ways to love my body as it is, thanks to myself, plus thanks to who loves me, but I know many women (and men) keep missing their beauty: that's horrible.
If you don't like yourself, please, do try to get rid of all the layers of bullshits collected in our minds.
Maybe you're beautiful and you don't know it.
And, by the way, the point is this that, ok, I really believe light and love can make beautiful everyone, but still someone is, well, way less beautiful than others, probably… Right? Well, if this is true, the point is that we should not be ashamed of our bodies, anyway. FUCK!
How much this society is fucked up. How much. Even in all these stupid fuckin' details. How much.
But, please, keep fighting and hoping and loving.
We can change it.
Things are changing.

…And here the third thing is, finally. The third thing is definitely the most important.

Third thing
(Do you remember the dog?)

These little too-cute too-tender too-soft white thingies run towards us crossing a meadow fast as hell as soon as they saw us; like a call, like they were just looking for us, like they saw their far beloved twins, the two white thingies reached the other two biggest two white thingies, when our performance was just done and we were laughing the emotions away. It was really too funny, the jumped on us like brothers and sisters, like they recognised us.

Furthermore, after some months, I noticed a curious detail in a picture of the moments before our preparation…

Question is: …is that dog behind one of the puppies?

(Oh, what an interesting question!!! Isn't it?)

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