you will take your leave of this place
but this place will not take its leave
of you. it is an illness with a voice
that surrounds you. that voice was wet.
A poem and film that seem to speak to the situation of refugees and exiles in Europe and beyond. Flemish poet Marleen de Crée provided the text (from her forthcoming book Druppelpunt) and voiceover, and the English translation in the subtitles is by Willem Groenewegen. Concept, camera, editing and music are the work of Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, who notes:
It was the first part of the poem that gave me the idea of showing a person not being able to escape; from her past, from what she did, from her encounters. From who she is…
We have this papier-mâché bear in our house (it will also be used in another video, later this year) that was the perfect prop for this video.
Katrijn Clemer played the woman (and was also responsible for making the bear, years ago).
Once everything was shot (all in one afternoon), the editing process was easy. It all came together perfectly.
I’m very happy with how this one worked out and I consider it one of my best for this year…
This is Swoon’s sixth film made with a text by Marleen de Crée.
“7 Painters is a film composition I made for 7 ekphrastic haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock,” writes Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, noting that it’s his second collaboration with the poet after Farrera earlier this year. Click through for texts (including the original Irish), stills, audio, and additional process notes.
Making poetry films and videopoems with texts originally sparked by other works of art presents the filmmaker with a bit of a conundrum: whether to suggest or include those art works, and if so, how? Here, Swoon seems to be responding purely to the words. But this works, I think, because the link between text and footage remains oblique enough that we might be watching what the painter, too, saw before taking up the brush.
Double Life in REM State […] has all the dreamlike quality and strange reality that I look for in a poem. […] The poem was perfect for text on screen (and I love the line ‘Dreams are always about the dreamer’)
I started collecting footage for certain lines (insects, animals, nature, movement, and a few haunting ones)
Meanwhile I also began working on a fitting soundtrack;
Once I had all my building blocks, I could start ‘composing’.
Image by image, placing lines, adjusting pace,…
It’s what I call fun.
The postwar Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann‘s voice and words are featured in the latest film from Swoon (Marc Neys). He used a sound recording from Lyrikline together with some footage he shot on his recent trip to Finland and back home in Mechelen, Belgium, according to the process notes on his blog. The English translation in the subtitles is by Monika Zobel, guest-edited by Ilya Kaminsky. There’s a Dutch version of the video with a translation by Paul Beers and Isolde Quadflieg. The music, as usual, is Swoon’s own composition. (And if you liked it, you can support him by buying his music on Bandcamp. He includes “Alle Tage” on his latest album, Timorous Sounds.)
Back in April, I shared Dale Wisely’s video interpretation of this poem from the Poetry Storehouse; here’s Swoon’s version. This is the first I can remember that Swoon (Marc Neys) has put himself in a videopoem as an actor (assuming that’s acting, and not just the way he starts each day). The result makes an extremely effective fit with this unsettling text.
(Update) Marc has posted some process notes to his blog. Here’s a snippet:
I felt like making a small series of videos with myself in front of the camera again (it’s been a while), this being the first one, another for a poem by Yves Bonnefoy coming up later this year. I love working from the safe and confined place that is my home. Setting up the camera, finding the right angle… exploring the possibilities and getting the most out of almost nothing.
I wanted the video to be subtle, almost no movement or action. A silent dialogue between me and a bust of my father (made by my sister). Slightly absurd and somewhat sensitive.
Marc Neys AKA Swoon‘s latest videopoem uses a translation of my own, so it’s entirely possible I’m prejudiced here, but I really like his choice of footage to accompany this century-old poem by the great Nicaraguan innovator of Modernismo. He also made a version in the original Spanish.
We each shared some notes about the poem and the film in a blog post. Quoting oneself is weird, but here’s what Marc wrote, in part:
I probably fell for the poem because of the outspoken naivety in lines like
for there’s no greater pain than the pain of being alive,
no affliction more severe than consciousness.
I wanted to steer away from easy or obvious choices in imagery but I also wanted the footage to be clean and simple (unremarkable almost), yet beautiful in their elusiveness.
In the editing process the starting point was the poem. I put different title blocks along the length of the soundtrack (without the presence of images). Only then I looked for appropriate footage (some of it is mine, others came from archives or videezy, videoblocks and mazwai) and adjusted them (pace and length) to make them fit the title blocks with the lines of the poem. The choice of font and placement of the text on the selected images was the last thing to do.
I still enjoy this way of composing.
Swoon (Marc Neys) has been taking a “‘videopoem journey’ along the Northern countries” this year, with films based on poems from Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway. This one took him to Greenland, as he describes in a recent blog post.
I started with creating a soundscape around her reading; [SoundCloud link]
After that I was driven by the overall atmosphere of the language and the pace of her reading to look for footage by Jan Eerala again.
His images of an abandoned shed, a pink plastic bag in the wind and some shadowy puddles worked well in contrast (split screen) with the blue spooky footage I created earlier this year (playing around with software and public domain material)
This marriage of Greenland, Finland and Belgium works rather well, I think.