Šejla Kamerić / Anri Sala

1395 Days Without Red

the Whitworth, The University of Manchester
01 July 2011 - 04 September 2011

Video: Excerpt of 1395 Days Without Red directed by Šejla Kamerić

2 minutes 27 seconds
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A woman makes her way through a silent, empty city. At every crossing she stops and looks. Should she wait or should she run? What is she waiting for, and why should she run?

The city is Sarajevo, and the route the woman takes became known as Sniper Alley during the siege of the city endured by its citizens for 1395 days from 1992 until the end of the siege in 1996. 

The woman, played by Spanish actress Maribel Verdú, is reliving the experience of the trauma of the siege. It is her individual journey through the collective memory of the city.  She is trying to reach a rehearsal of an orchestra. The action cuts back and forth from the woman braving the crossings to the musicians rehearsing passages from Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony.  

Conceived, developed and filmed by Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala in collaboration with composer and conductor Ari Benjamin Meyers, the collaboration resulted in two films edited from the same footage and with the same title but with different shapes and tempos. Both films were first presented at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester from 2 July until 4 September 2011, and have subsequently been shown together in London, Barcelona and Istanbul.


Video: Excerpt of 1395 Days Without Red directed by Šejla Kamerić

A film by Šejla Kamerić in collaboration with Anri Sala and Ari Benjamin Meyers.

You can also watch this video on Vimeo and YouTube.
Image: Production still taken during filming of 1395 Days Without Red by Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala in collaboration with Ari Benjamin Meyers (2011). Photograph: Milomir Kovačević Strašni

Video: Excerpt of 1395 Days Without Red directed by Anri Sala

2 minutes 10 seconds
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Video: Excerpt of 1395 Days Without Red directed by Anri Sala

Video: Excerpt of 1395 Days Without Red (2011), a film by Anri Sala in collaboration with Liria Begeja.
Also available to view on Vimeo and YouTube.

Making 1395 Days Without Red

An interview with Ari Benjamin Meyers
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Making 1395 Days Without Red

An interview with Ari Benjamin Meyers

Interviewer: What was your role in 1395 Days without Red? How did it come about?

ABM: Anri and I had worked together before. Actually we first worked together here at the Manchester International Festival, in 2007, on a project called Il Tempo del Postino. Then he called me around three years ago and told me about this project with Šejla Kamerić and said music played a very important part. And that's how it started. I was very interested right away, because usually we know that the role of music in film is just, well, 'film music' and it seemed as if here it would play a very different role. It became a very intense collaboration, because of the way we were all working so closely together from the start.

I: Much of the film depicts the performance of this music and a journey that Maribel Verdú’s character is taking across Sarajevo. What’s the relationship between the two?

ABM: Usually in a film, the music enhances what you see, so you have a love scene or a scary scene and the music heightens that. That's its job. But in this case, since there's no script and no dialogue, the music became the basis of choreographing her journey. Šejla and Anri had made a sort of map of the route that the actress would take through Sarajevo, but the way she would walk, how fast or slow she would go, how she was breathing, her attitude would be based on music; everything about that walk was in one way or another based on music. As a performer she needed a basis to act with and the idea was always to avoid defining it with explanation or text. It's not so much a case of ‘did the music come first or the visuals’ as they really went hand in hand, even to the point that when we were shooting, Maribel had an earpiece and was listening to this music while on set. It was a very exciting way to be involved in a film.

I: Please talk about the piece of music itself... it’s Tchaikovsky’s 6th 

ABM: It’s from the first movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, the Pathetique. On the one hand it's all Tchaikovsky, and on the other hand you could say it's not Tchaikovsky at all. Part of what I did was to try to compose a rehearsal, so I was writing in mistakes and parts that maybe someone watching the film would hear or maybe just register – one beat too long or a phrase repeated once too often. But it's all about very subtle changes. Very, very little things, but just to give you a sense that something's not right, or to move the story forward. It was like a recomposition or perhaps more accurately a deconstruction of Tchaikovsky.

It's a very special symphony. He died nine days after finishing the symphony – it is the last thing he wrote before he died. When I suggested it to Anri and Šejla it fit right away. What's important is it's a piece people know. So in certain contexts and we can play against that and work against type, which made it a very exciting choice.

I: It’s interesting that the only dialogue belongs to you, the conductor, and it’s in the form of directions to the orchestra...

ABM: What you see when you first watch these films is a seemingly haphazard walk and a sort of rehearsal. But I think the more you look, the more you notice how well planned it is: the entire project from start to finish is meticulously timed and worked out, and even the words that I'm saying were written into the script. So when I'm saying things like “tempo”, “let's go back” or “let's go forward”, they relate to the journey as well as the music.

I: So how is it, now, to see the completed works? Has the role of the music played out in the way you expected?

ABM: Well as a classically trained conductor I'm always working against the way in which music has traditionally been subsumed by other art forms. It sometimes seems to me that music can never be allowed to be just another art medium, like video or drawing. This project has shown a way of working with music that we aren't used to – that's why it's important to me.



Image: A still from 1395 Days Without Red directed by Anri Sala (2011)

Writing: Nine Impressions of 1395 Days

By Ozren Kebo, 2011
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Nine Impressions of 1395 Days

By Ozren Kebo, 2011

 

1. A minimalistic essay

A film is successful to the extent that it succeeds in portraying life – in extracting the narrative and thought-provoking potential that life contains. By all measures, the siege of Sarajevo was an extreme situation and this makes it an ideal subject for film but also a classic trap for directors with a penchant for the extreme. Such situations may fulfil their true cinematic and artistic potential only when the extremes they contain are subdued and suppressed, when they are artistically transposed and reduced to that subtle substance which tells a story in an entirely different way. Which is how 1395 Days without Red came to be, a minimalistic essay about extremely difficult times.

2. Far away from life, far away from truth

We are constantly subjected to the relentless terror of the Hollywood film. Its key means of expression are the detonation, the car chase, the fight and the pole dance; its leading character a helicopter. This helicopter will, at some point between minutes 45 and 80, inevitably explode, inevitably whilst airborne and inevitably accompanied by a spectacular pyrotechnical display. The more there are detonations, flames and incredible, near-atomic mushroom clouds rising from common fires, the greater the success of the film. The chief narrative quality of this dominant genre of the contemporary film industry is its remoteness from life. Where Hollywood ends, life begins.

3. What are the faces, legs, movements, bodies telling us?

Šejla Kamerić chose a city butchered by detonations and turned it into a film without pyrotechnics. As a bonus, she succeeded in stirring up our memories of the horror that lasted 1395 days. Instead of explosions, the story of bombing in this well-composed, obsessive, compulsive film is told through mime, looks, grimaces, the legs of a person running, filmed just so, as legs independent of the body, as carriers of something that ought to be a human being, but got dehumanised precisely by this act of running, it being the main form of body language in the city under siege.

4. Streets deserted of people, only pedestrians are seen

1395 Days without Red can be seen as a very successful anti-Hollywood experiment: it achieves an expressive maximum using minimal resources. Everything in the film is stripped to its core. There is no traffic in the streets. Not even people. In their place are pedestrians, robbed of their human status, making their way through the city on foot, trying to retrieve (that is, regain) their lost status. Pedestrians are life-like, and not just a bunch of extras. The success of your survival technique in the besieged city was all about your technique of moving through that city. Some of the methods used can be seen in the walk, pace, look, posture and the grimace of unforgettable Maribel Verdú.

Read the rest.


Image: Maribel Verdu in a production still taken during filming (2011). Photograph: Milomir Kovačević Strašni

Writing: Terrains Vague

By Matthew Beaumont, 2011
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This is a city that at the same time is and isn’t under siege. We observe no identifiable acts of violence. The streets are not shaken by bombs or strafed by bullets.

Terrains vague

By Matthew Beaumont, 2011

The streets were deserted, as usually happens in the gaps of history, in the terrains vagues of time.

This ominous sentence is taken from Nabokov’s novel Bend Sinister (1947), in which the exiled author looked back with a sense of calmly uncomprehending horror at the Europe from which he had recently fled to the US, and in particular its besieged, dispeopled cities, among them Berlin and Paris. The book’s title refers to a heraldic device, a bar drawn from the left side, but Nabokov used it to suggest, as he put it, ‘an outline broken by refraction, a distortion in the mirror of being, a wrong turn taken by life, a sinistral and sinister world.’ It is this kind of distorted, broken world that 1395 Days without Red evokes with quietly disturbing beauty.

Šejla Kamerić’s and Anris Sala’s films, carefully mirroring and refracting one another, both track an ordinary woman’s journey by foot through the city. This is a city that at the same time is and isn’t under siege. We observe no identifiable acts of violence. The streets are not shaken by bombs or strafed by bullets. But they are nonetheless emptied of all traffic, and so seem eerily deserted – like one of Giorgio de Chirico’s mysterious, melancholic cityscapes from a century ago, in which the cruelties of history, never directly portrayed, fall as oppressive shadows across monumental squares from which the bustling public life of the city has ebbed. In 1395 Days without Red, the almost agoraphobic sense of emptiness persists even though numerous pedestrians can be seen walking through the city.

For these people are living ordinary lives in the face of some nameless, faceless threat. At each intersection of the city’s roads, in the sudden openings where buildings no longer offer a limited protection, people queue, looking at once listless and steelily determined. Then, abruptly, they rush across the empty space of the junction, sprinting or shambling according to their physical capacities, in an attempt to elude the enigmatic danger secreted in the city’s architecture, its geography.

These films are disaster films, then, and as such are distantly related to countless Hollywood movies that derive a more or less perverse pleasure from portraying alien life-forms destroying a metropolitan city. But the sense of horror evoked in 1395 Days without Red is a horror vacui, a fear of the emptied, asocial city (it is thus part of a tradition that runs back at least as far as Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826), in which the eponymous character must finally come to terms with the fact that Rome itself, the centre of civilisation, is nothing but an empty museum of the past, a mausoleum). The crossings, tramlines and silent squares of Sarajevo literalise the gaps of history identified by Nabokov. In negotiating them – it is an irony that Nabokov would have recognised – the citizens of Sarajevo look as if they are playing a peculiarly grim children’s game, grandmother’s footsteps perhaps.

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Talk: Anri Sala in Conversation with Jessica Morgan

1 hour 2 minutes
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Talk: Anri Sala in Conversation with Jessica Morgan

In this talk, Anri Sala discusses 1395 Days Without Red with Jessica Morgan, The Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art, Tate Modern. Recorded at 10 – 12 Francis St, London, on 21st October 2011.

You can also listen to this recording on Soundcloud.


Podcast 5: Destinations

1395 Days Without Red also featured in the 5th edition of our podcast.

Produced by Iain Chambers and released on 18 October 2011, four artists: Lavinia Greenlaw, Ryan Gander, Anri Sala and Šejla Kamerić discuss the ideas and motivations that guided them to their own particular destinations touching upon ideas of departing and arriving, and more specifically what happens to us in between.

You can listen to Podcast 5: Destinations on Soundcloud


Image: Production still taken during filming (2011). Photograph: Milomir Kovačević Strašni

In The Artangel Collection

Anri Sala
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1395 Days Without Red

Anri Sala's film 1395 Days Without Red was made in collaboration with Liria Begeja and Ari Benjamin Meyers, is a co-commission with the Whitworth, The University of Manchester, and is part of The Artangel Collection. ​


  • Artist: Anri Sala 
  • Title: 1395 Days Without Red
  • Date: 2011
  • Medium: HD video / Surround sound 5.0
  • Duration: 43 minutes and 45 seconds
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In The Artangel Collection

Šejla Kamerić
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1395 Days Without Red

Šejla Kamerić film 1395 Days Without Red was made in collaboration with Ari Benjamin Meyers, and is part of The Artangel Collection. The work is a co-commission with the Whitworth, The University of Manchester and since its initial presentation in 2011,  Šejla Kamerić's film has been screened at mac birmingham in 2014 and at P21 Gallery in London in 2015.


  • Artist: Šejla Kamerić
  • Title: 1395 Days Without Red
  • Date: 2011
  • Medium: HD video / Surround sound 5.1
  • Duration 61 minutes
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Press

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It's all atmosphere and place, the invocation of fear and spirit, relived moments, loss and hope. Both films are a kind of return, a doubling of memory and presence. – Adrian Searle, Guardian

Selected Press

It's all atmosphere and place, the invocation of fear and spirit, relived moments, loss and hope. Both films are a kind of return, a doubling of memory and presence. – Adrian Searle, Guardian, 4 July 2011
By the end I found I was sweating. Tchaikovsky’s radiant music had become as urgent and insistent as Bernard Herrmann’s score for Hitchcock’s Vertigo. – Richard Dorment, Telegraph, 12 July 2011

There is little denying the efficacy of the film’s structure as a platform on which both the grand and the minute are explored in their opposites. In doing so, Šejla Kamerić & Anri Sala have managed to make a modern silent film that achieves so much by saying so little.  – Douglas Brennan, Ceasefire, 19 October 2011

About the artists

Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala
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Šejla Kamerić

Šejla Kamerić was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has received widespread acclaim for her poignant intimacy and social commentary. Based on her own experiences, memories and dreams, which were influenced by the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992–1995). Kamerić’s work takes us to spaces of displacement and discrimination, insisting that the delicate and the sublime are not pushed aside during catastrophe or hardship, but that rather they exist simultaneously, revealing a complex, psychogeographic landscape and the tenacity of the human spirit. The sadness and beauty, hope and pain that shines out of her works are part of the stories we share. The weight of her themes stands in powerful contrast to her individual aesthetics and to her choice of delicate materials. Kamerić received The ECF Routes Princess Margriet Award for Cultural Diversity in 2011 and a DAAD-Berlin Artist Residency Fellowship in 2007. Her first short film What do I Know premiered in the Corto Cortissimo section of the Venice International Film Festival in 2007 and has been screened in more than 40 international film festivals. It was selected for Best Short Film at Zagreb Film Festival (2007) and Best Fiction Film at Adana Film Festival (2008).

Kamerić’s film Thursday premiered in the official section at the International Rotterdam Film Festival in 2015. Her work is included in renowned European collections such as Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris; MACBA, Barcelona; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; ERSTE Collection, Vienna; Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul; Art Collection Telekom, Bonn.

Her project Ab uno disce omnes, commissioned by Wellcome Collection, was shown in London as part of the exhibition Forensics: The anatomy of crime. In 2015, Kamerić’s work was shown in an extensive solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Kosovo, which will be followed, by her retrospective exhibition at ARTER - Vehbi Koç Foundation in Istanbul in December.

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Anri Sala

Anri Sala was born in Tirana, Albania, in 1976 and grew up under the most repressive regime in Europe, the Stalinist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. His body of work, primarily in video, is distinguished not so much by a particular look or subject matter as by a specific sensibility. Working primarily with music and location-based filming, Sala’s works are precise evocations of particular sensibilities, made in places as far afield as Albania, Africa, Berlin and now Sarajevo.

Anri Sala was educated at the National Academy of Arts, Tirana; at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris; and at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Tourcoing. Sala has exhibited internationally and is the recipient of numerous prizes. Recent solo shows include Background/Foreground with Edi Rama (About Change Collection, Berlin, 2010) and Purchase Not By Moonlight at various galleries including Marian Goodman Gallery in New York (2009), Contemporary Arts Centre in Cincinatti (2009) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami (2008).


Images: (left) Šejla Kamerić with the camera operator and (above) Maribel Verdú and Šejla Kamerić on the set of 1395 Days Without Red during filming (2011). Photographs: Milomir Kovačević Strašni

Production Credits

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Production Credits


Biographies

Ari Benjamin Meyers was born in 1972 in New York and now lives in Berlin. He is a composer and conductor internationally known for his diverse output and as a specialist for complex, cross-genre productions. His work, which is increasingly being presented in an art context, often takes the form of productive sabotage: he constructs and deconstructs musical situations that play on the expectations of audiences. The range of his activities is evidenced by his many collaborations including with the artists Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Anri Sala, and Tino Sehgal, the bands Einstürzende Neubauten (with whom he has made two cd’s), The Orb, and The Residents, the performance group La Fura dels Baus, the interdisciplinary architecture team Raumlabor Berlin, and the electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnik. His most recent film score was for the French horror film La Meute, which had its premiere as an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival. He is the founder of Soundfair and initiated the trend-setting project Club Redux – a platform in which he explored the pairing of contemporary music with dance and electronic music in a series of club nights in Berlin. The 17-piece Redux Orchestra that grew out of these performances has established itself as an independent force on the new music scene; their first solo CD was released on Potomak/Indigo and is a recording of Meyers’ 70 minute work SYMPHONY X. The German newspaper Die Zeit described his work this way: “A completely new music that doesn't even have a name yet.”

Maribel Verdú is an actress who has performed in films such as Alfonso Cuarón Y tu mamá también (2001), Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Fernando Trueba's Belle Époque (1992) and Vicente Aranda's Amantes (2006).


Image: Production still taken during filming of 1395 Days Without Red by Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala in collaboration with Ari Benjamin Meyers (2011). Photograph: Milomir Kovačević Strašni

Credits

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Who made this possible?

Credits

1395 Days Without Red was commissioned by Artangel with Manchester International Festival, Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester), Fundació Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), enabled by Han Nefkens, H+F patronage, Festival d’Automne (Paris), Arts Council England, European Cultural Foundation, Film Fund Sarajevo, Marian Goodman Gallery (New York), Hauser & Wirth (London & Zurich). Co-produced by Artangel and SCCA/pro.ba.

Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England and the private patronage of the Artangel International CircleSpecial Angels and The Company of Angels.


 

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