And the sky clears up (MAGIC RESISTANCE)
In her film "And the Sky Clears Up (MAGIC RESISTANCE)", Borjana Ventzislavova lets the five female protagonists to perform artistic-magical rituals at significant places in Vienna. Helped by a variety of objects -- eggs, milk, a fly whisk with ribbons in rainbow colors -- the five women act in slow and carefully composed shots. The respective sequences of actions — milk is poured into glasses, an egg is crushed, white powder flows into the Danube — create the impression of being witness to a ritual. Here are evoked sympathetic effects. The ritual aims directly at the addressed location without the need for a causal connection with the place. Effect should be provoked by transference. The city where these actions take place is Vienna, and in Ms Ventzislavova’s perfectly assembled film images the city’s role is one of an almost deserted and noiseless backdrop. The selected places are rich in history and symbols. The balcony of the Hofburg on which Hitler gave his speech after the Anschluss in 1938; the Ministry of the Interior, which while the film was being made was headed by a right-wing populist politician; the Theseus temple, which originally housed the monumental sculpture of Theseus fighting the Minotaur; and the Danube, which has always been the symbol of Vienna's connection with the Balkans and the Orient.
But these history-laden places can also trigger negative connotations. Obviously, they are supposed to be cleaned up by the actions of the five leading characters. The concept of resistance from the film’s title changes through the qualities of the actions from one — resistance against something — to one — turning to the negative — in order to subsequently heal it through a sympathetic act. The goal of these rituals is presented via an off-text. A life that should take place in the now in a direct encounter with the other without resentment or prejudice. The social utopia that Borjana Ventzislavova evokes in the film lies neither in the past nor in the future: It is the living present in its fragility and beauty.
Still, the film is not a magical ritual. The artist uses motifs from the field of magic to modify and represent them through an artistic act. The used objects — the egg as a symbol of the soul or the lemon into which a nail is driven as a motif of a nail fetish — come from the context of magical-ritual acts. These are also shown separately in a photo series as part of the installation.
In any case, the ritual is not just a piece of magic; also religion and art use this technique of representation. A crucial feature removes the protagonists' acts from the magical sphere. They all take place during the day and in public places. In magic, the ritual takes place in secret, usually at night and on the border with nature. Borjana Ventzislavova uses the form of the ritual to present the possibility of a social reality without ideological instruction, which is constituted by a lively, prejudice-free encounter. An idea that she shares with the concept of love by the Russian anarchist Pyotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin.
Copyright Boris Manner 2020