Snemalec /Camera: Andrej Lupinc
Montaža / Editing: Marjan Osole-Max
Glasba / Music: Bojan Adamič; remix: M. Gržinić & A. Šmid
Produkcija / Production: Cankarjev dom; koprodukcija / co-production:
ŠKUC-Forum & Marjan Osole Max, Ljubljana, 1985
MARINA GRŽINIĆ, AINA ŠMID
The Moments of Decision
- Our video film, The Moments of Decision, refers to the Slovene partisan film of the same name by the director František Čap from 1955. In the foreground of Čap's partisan film drama stands a female figure (Marija). The doubled acting, blue-key effects and artificial (biographical, historical and artistic) reminiscences were used to create a romantic melodrama.
- The Moments of Decision, which remained hidden in the seventies, buried deep in the film archive, deals with the subject of reconciliation between the partisans and the Home Guard (which was so topical in the eighties), and with the position of the individual and the Church. For this reason, it was the perfect subject for our video film. In relation to the film, this video was designed as a probing scalpel: we have used it to cut deeply into the very texture of the film surface.
- Marija, the heroine of the film, got her electronic double who, in the video, was not only mimicking the film gestures in advance and reciting the text which, a moment later, could be heard in the film, but who also "forced" the hero of the video to speak the sentences that were missing in, or were censored from, the film. We found these missing lines in the original film script. The censors had cut, from the final version of the film, a sentence about the individual fighting against the system, in the true spirit of the American action movie.
We soon developed an experimental and structural mode of creation in the medium of video, as we were not satisfied with posing and cheap social engagement alone, but strove for the examination of the medium and its different histories:
- We found this sentence and included it in the video radiography of The Moments of Decision. At the same time, this almost obsessive theoretical procedure of producing the video - reading, comparison and theoretical explanation - has defined all our subsequent work in the sphere of video film.
- All our later works would first be created on a typewriter or computer, using our reading and viewing of films, other video works, exhibitions, or merely a reading between the lines of the chronicle of world politics.
- We took some of the most characteristic sequences and shots from the film, The Moments of Decision. Let us mention just a few: the killing of a member of the Home Guard with a religious object; a discussion about which people are "ours" and which people are "enemies" (partisans or Home Guard members); and some rare moments of the potentially erotic, or at least of sentimental relationships, in the filmed maelstrom of war.
- Although The Moments of Decision is a piece of fiction, we took it as a document, a documentary view of our reality, and therefore in our video film we have added not only characters and doubles, but also history and future. We have constructed a complete narrative around the lives of the film's characters before World War II. We also examined Slovenian fine art production; in the "bourgeois" and melancholic-psychotic video life of Marija in the thirties, we have included paintings by Veno Pilon and other artists.
- With paintings by Komar and Melamid we also explored socrealism, which followed World War II. As The Moments of Decision was made in the fifties, we have included in its visualisation concealed, but vivid international references: Hitchcock's films and the French New Wave, which were both contemporaries of The Moments of Decision and Čap himself.
- This experience was built into the very structure of our video film, and it was later also profoundly thematised in our short feature film, entitled At Home (1987), based on Kocbek's Diaries, in which we dealt with the fifties in Slovene film, iconography and history. We also found Berta Meglič, the make-up woman from The Moments of Decision, who agreed to do the make-up again after thirty years, this time for the video "version" of The Moments of Decision (1985).
- The Lover, a text by Marguerite Duras, which we read in Italian and Serbo-Croat in 1984, since the Slovenian translation was not then available, turned out to be an important source of the development of the missing dramaturgical and scenic elements. In it we found all those expressions and situations of eroticism and death, inner pain, and forlornness and marginality, with which we produced the stereotypes, prototypes and types of our characters (also including partial reference to Antonioni's Red Desert and Fassbinder's Thirtheen Months of a Year).
- Eros and Tanatos, political engagement and aesthetic experimentation went perfectly hand in hand with the "carcasses" of lost dreams and the bodies of our lovers.
- The Moments of Decision video was created at a time when we were reflecting upon the relationship between the medium of video and film and television, and when we endeavoured to determine the position and status of this artistic and technological device on former Yugoslav and East-European territory.
- In the eighties, we were deeply influenced by the punk and rock scene, and more generally by the Ljubljana alternative movement and its subversive reading of the state of the social, artistic and political world in which we lived our daily lives.
- 1. The history of the medium of video which, by then, was already technologically, theoretically and practically well formed and (critically) institutionalised in the developed West. This history is most important for us, and so it shall remain.
- 2. Our personal histories of the twofold marginalised creators: as members of the condemned Ljubljana alternative scene which produced a clear political reading of art, and as individuals without status and family pedigree (as the video heroine in The Moments of Decision says: we were thrown into the street, without history or power; all we had were our names, and even these had value only in our identity cards or passports, which were checked frequently at police stations).
- 3. The history and present of the space of the eighties. The eighties came after the vacuum of the seventies, when there was no real theory and when abstract visualisation prevailed. The most important thing in this period of our video production, was a joint work in the domain of art, and a friendship with Dušan Mandić (already a member of the IRWIN/NSK group).
- However, our field of reference in the beginning of the eighties took shape in connection with the then still emerging Ljubljana psychoanalytic school (Žižek et comp.), in permanent contact with the alternative scene, rock developments, punk, the visual scene in and around ŠKUC, and primarily the ŠKUC international film programme at the beginning of the eighties (Fassbinder, von Praunheim, Warhol, etc.).
- Marina Gržinić, Aina Šmid
- Translation B. C.