Davide Pepe, who has been responsible for many of the beautiful backdrop projections for Current 93 and who is working on many other projects with David Tibet/Current 93, as well as Steven Stapleton, has also been collaborating with the legendary Diamanda Galás. The world premiere of the film that they have made together, Schrei 27, will be shown at London’s Barbican Centre on 22 & 23 April. Below is the press release concerning this remarkable—and harrowing—work. For more details and to obtain tickets go to here.
A film by Davide Pepe and Diamanda Galás
SPILL Festival of Performance
Silk Street Theatre, Barbican, London
1–9pm, 22–23 April 2011
Piercing, guttural screams of emotion, crescendos of raw human sound, visceral primeval calls and silence form the extended aria of pain that is Schrei 27, a film by Diamanda Galás and Davide Pepe that has its World Première at the Barbican’s SPILL Festival in 2011.
Comprising several short performances or ‘chapters’ of a confession that might have been induced through a chemical or mechanical manipulation of the brain, Schrei 27 follows a person – played by both Galás and a male actor – who is taken into a mental hospital after arrest for treason. There the person is subjected to torture in order to extract a confession, which is not given. Instead of the confession comes a ‘holy’ recrimination…
The film presents a powerful unrelenting psychological and physiological portrait of trauma caused to enemies of the state in a ‘medical facility’ where trained doctors deliver incremental changes of shock, light, heat and cold to their ‘patients’ in confined spaces. The piece alternates extreme high-energy vocals with absolute silence, using the unique speech and voice style that Galás has been researching and developing for the last thirty years. Abstract utterances and silence meld with passages – including from the Book of Job and St. Thomas Aquinas – about transitions between life and death, salvation and condemnation, sanity and madness.
In 1994, New American Radio commissioned Galás to compose Schrei 27, a 27-minute long work dealing with political or personal asylum institutionalization. It was further developed as Schrei X in 1996, as a live performance staged in complete darkness, and in 2007 curated as a quadraphonic installation, again in the dark, in Spain and the Canary Islands.
This is Galás’ first major film collaboration with Bolognese film and video artist Davide Pepe whose most recent feature, Giardini di Luce, was presented at the 60th Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Shorts Competition.
Hailed as one of the most important singers of our time, Diamanda Galás has earned international acclaim for her highly original and politically charged performance works, as well as her innovative treatment of jazz, blues, and rembetika. Death, insanity, imprisonment, AIDS, and dementia are themes she has explored since 1984, including Plague Mass, Vena Cava, Defixiones, Will and Testament, Masque Of The Red Death and Insekta.
The viewer will witness several short performances over the space of twenty-seven minutes alternating extreme high-energy vocal work with absolute silence. These performances reflect the state of a patient subjected to torture through chemical or mechanical manipulation of the brain, kept in a confined space with periodically or randomly triggered bright light, heat, beatings or electric shocks. There is a high density of speech-sound over time which is often machine-like in its velocity. The work employs the atypical speech and vocal signal processing that Galás has been researching since 1979. In 2005 Diamanda Galás asked Italian filmmaker Davide Pepe to create the visual analogue to Schrei 27. This is Galás’ first collaboration with a filmmaker in a major project.
Galás is known for her arresting concert performances and has been seen in the Barbican Hall on several occasions. SPILL and the Barbican are proud to present this important film installation which deals with asylum institutionalisation, originally commissioned by New American Radio and the Waker Arts Center in Minneapolis (US).