Traversing the Balkan


In the last few years, the Filmarchiv Austria has cultivated its relations to its counterparts in Southeastern Europe. The shared past of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary has created an often overlapping cinematographic heritage. Back then, the majority of the film production companies, usually located in Vienna, were sending their cameramen to Southeastern Europe to document life and occurrences in the southern part of the Danube Monarchy. The few recordings from that time that have been preserved “survived” in the Filmarchiv Austria and in similar institutions in the successor republics of former Yugoslavia. At the same time, production companies from that region worked all over Europe and produced a great number of recordings that are, as of yet, unknown in those countries.

On a concert tour through various cities from Slovenia to Turkey, silent films dealing with or originating from Southeastern Europe are shown and accompanied with live, contemporary music. Each venue has its own customized film and music program, which was designed in cooperation between the Filmarchiv Austria and the local partner organization. To that end, the content of the silent film archives of the Filmarchiv Austria has been augmented with material from the inventory of the partner organizations. These materials are presented together for the very first time. The programs have the goal of reflecting the history of a region, and also, in a sense, of bringing the regional history “back home.” This course of action promotes the exchange of cinematographic documents and their public viewing, and thereby advances the process of coming to terms with the shared history. Well-known images of momentous events in the Balkans (for example, the outbreak of the First World War) are getting supplemented with documents from various parts of Southeastern Europe. This may foster a more pluralistic understanding of these events.
The film programs, as arranged, are accompanied with live music by Rdeča Raketa (Maja Osojnik, Matija Schellander). The musical performances in the Balkans are based on previously developed compositional sketches. Special emphasis is placed on the process of formation, on the constant back and forth from which the music derives its moments of suspense, its surprising twists and ultimately, its aesthetic value. The artist duo works primarily with a set of electronic instruments, which are combined with a recorder, voice, various devices, audio tapes, or an electric bass, as needed. However, simply re-enacting a composition is not Rdeča Raketa’s style. Rather, Maja Osojnik and Matija Schellander are embarking on a musical journey which is in a state of constant flux and change. (Karl Wratschko)