Wintergarden

2005; dur: 20'; A film by Daria Martin
with music by Maja S. K. Ratkje

The last, main part of the music is on the record River Mouth Echoes.

Loosely structured around the compelling myth of Persephone’s abduction by Hades into the Underworld, Daria Martin has created a stylised, and visually stunning performance in this, her most ambitious film to date.

Filmed entirely in the newly refurbished De La Warr Pavilion, a 1930s modernist masterpiece by Eric Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff in Bexhill-on-Sea, the theme of ‘Wintergarden’ was suggested to Martin by the unrealised plan to install a large statue of the Greek goddess in the Pavilion’s courtyard. Here she appears as Kore, her second name in Greek mythology, a young woman recuperating in a seaside sanatorium; it is only when her eyes close on the watery horizon, and the daylight recedes into darkness, that her descent begins.

The ‘wintergarden’ through which Kore passes is an extraordinary creation of straight lines and organic curves, a place in which nature and artifice are cultivated equally. It is in this spectacular, prismatic Pavilion that its inhabitants — Greek gods and goddesses, Weimar Sirens, and dancers who, in their graphic linearity, might equally have emerged from the Bauhaus or 80s New York club land — are encouraged to act out their desires amongst the sweeps of gleaming chrome.

Drawing on an extraordinary array of textual and visual influences, ‘Wintergarden’ is a vision both dark and dazzling, that suggest that even in the most deathly and barren realms, the possibility of nourishment and renewal remains.

A review, in Norwegian:

Kunstkritikk.no: “Sirenesang fra hælvete. Nettopp derfor fremstår Daria Martins 16mm-film Wintergarden som et av triennalens mest forfriskende bidrag. At Laura Cumming i The Observer kan påstå at dette er «det verste videoverket» på utstillingen, fremstår som uforståelig. Martin våger å ta utgangspunkt i noe som overhodet ikke forholder seg til mainstreamkulturen, men bearbeider i stedet noe av det mest klassiske av alt kildemateriale i vestlig kunsthistorie. Hun har laget en fremstilling av Persefone-myten, og hun har i tilegg tatt seg friheten å be publikum overvære filmen fra begynnelse til slutt. Filmen, med lydspor av norske Maja Ratkje som også er å se på skjermen, kommer særdeles heldig ut i forhold til de fleste andre videoverkene på utstillingen, hvor det blir alt for lett å bare stikke hodet inn i et par minutter før man haster videre. For i de fleste tilfeller innser man at eventuelle tilløp til narrativ i svært liten grad gjør noe legitimt krav på ens oppmerksomhet.” (Erlend Hammer)

photos by Peter Fauland
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