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One Hundred Steps is a film installation created by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca in collaboration with 20 musicians and dancers from Ireland, France, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. The film is the duo’s first transnational project.
One Hundred Steps explores the connection between Irish and Northern African musical and cultural traditions and shared colonial experiences. The film is presented in two distinct and corresponding chapters. The first half of the film was shot in March of 2020 in Bantry House, a 17th century Anglo-Irish colonial manor turned private museum in which the traditional Irish singers, musicians and dancers perform.
This chapter also features Bob Quinn, whose ‘Atlantean’ series of documentaries was broadcast in Ireland in the early 1980s. Quinn’s Atlantean theory suggests a connection between Northern African and Celtic cultures, which he believes can be seen primarily in musical traditions. His work acts as a central inspiration to the ideas explored in One Hundred Steps and the three Atlantean documentaries and book are available for viewing alongside the film installation.
The second chapter of the film is set in a 19th century mansion located in the centre of Marseille, in the South of France. Rich with history and the trappings of colonial wealth, the artists have chosen this location for performances of Northern African musicians, singers, and dancers. This location, like Bantry house, is open to the public as a decorative arts museum and its history becomes part of the narrative of the film. Fiction and documentary blur as we are introduced to both spaces by the official tour guides who elaborate upon histories of familial wealth and the suggestion of class and status through the collection of objects. Meanwhile, visitors to the museums step forward to become performers, inhabiting these spaces with sound and movement that mirror and echo two seemingly removed cultures and spaces. Making the film in two historical buildings was a way for the artists to 're-domesticate' the museum space as an act of re-appropriation, symbolically changing the direction of who speaks and who listens.
The film installation of One Hundred Steps consists of a free-standing projection placed on a carpet made by the artists. This carpet is the result of a double-sided drawing, where Celtic and Islamic patterns bleed through and intertwine with each other. The carpet continues the film's attempt to reclaim and domesticate the museum spaces, and extends this idea into the actual exhibition space of One Hundred Steps.
One Hundred Steps was co-commissioned by Manifesta 13 Marseille and VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art. It was first exhibited at Manifesta 13 in Marseille in late 2020. This is the Irish premier of the work as the launch of a national tour, travelling to Sligo (The Model), Wexford (The Wexford Arts Centre) and Cobh (Sirius Arts Centre) over the next 18 months.
Produced by VOLTE and Wagner & de Burca. Co-financed by the Arts Council of Ireland, Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM), Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, V-A-C Foundation and Ammodo.
About the Artists
Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca create their films in collaboration with groups of artists who perform within distinct genres of dance, music and other forms of self-expression. In recent years, the artists have worked with ‘Brega’ musicians and MC’s (Estas Vendo Coisas, 2016) Evangelical singers (Terremoto Santo, 2017), ‘Schlager’ cover singers in Germany (Bye Bye Deutschland! 2017), spoken-word poets in Toronto (Rise, 2018), Frevo and Swingueira dancers in Brazil (Faz Que Vai, 2016, and Swinguerra, 2019).
Through cinematic productions, they focus on creating works which exist at the intersection of fine art and popular culture, documentary, and fiction. In opposition to the idea of ‘giving voice’ to a particular group of people, Wagner and de Burca are led by the ideas and work of the groups with whom they collaborate.
Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca
One Hundred Steps, 2020
Single channel film
2K, Black&White + Colour,
Sound, 30 min.
Printed carpet (8m x 6m)
Courtesy of the artists and Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo / Rio de Janeiro
Click here to read a response to One Hundred Steps by writer Michaële Cutaya
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