The Train Stopped At Höja

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Propaganda poster for the train that filmmaker Aleksandr Medvedkin operated from

We were told, and it was many years ago so the details and facts are blurry, about how these trains would transport paintings borrowed from Russian art museums around the countryside and make stops at various villages. Once every month, a new painting would arrive in your village. It would be carried from the train station to the town hall or the house of culture. The people of the village would form a queue outside and wait to be let in. You would enter an auditorium, where the painting stood, covered up, on a small stage or podium at the front. Once everybody was sitting down, the painting would be uncovered for twenty minutes, and people would sit, just looking at this one painting, for the full twenty minutes.

(The poster pictured above has nothing to do with this story – it announces the arrival of another train, carrying filmmaking- and editing equipment, which will turn your small village into the temporary site for the production of a newsreel. Maybe a distant relative to the Super 8 workshops in Mozambique that we looked into in a previous post.)

We carried this story around in the backs of our heads, until we were approached by Moderna Museet in Malmö, the museum of modern art. They asked if we wanted to collaborate on a screening, and we asked if we could borrow works from their collection, to show in our small village.

The village of Höja has 60 mailboxes, and around 200 inhabitants.

From the 400 works in the collection of Moderna that were classified as moving images, we chose four. They were screened in Höja on August 6. To mark the occasion, we had booked a band, Lila gatuorkestern, with connections to the village, to play a gig before the screening. Nils Svensk from Moderna Museet was present, to hold an introduction and answer questions from the audience.

The films that were shown:

Till minne av en stor man – ILAC (1972), by Björn Lövin
ILAC is a ficticious insurance company. Its underlying principle, Lövin writes, is that of inverted risk. “According to this principle a whole life can be insured, on condition that the life values are formulated in terms of consumer levels and social relationships.” If you enter into a contract with ILAC, you are promised security and a perfect life, on condition that you honour the obligations of the contract.

His-story (1998), by Deimantas Narkevičius
The film tells the story of the precarious life of the father of Deimantas Narkevičius in Lithuania during the Soviet years. The film was made with the same cameras and rolls of films that was used in the Soviet Union during the 1970’s. “I wanted to make a film about the time when I was growing up, with the kinds of images that were made then, in order to tell a story that would have been impossible to tell back then.”

Turn on (2004), by Adrian Paci
Unemployed men sit waiting next to a city square in the Albanian town Shkodër. Each morning they go there in the hopes of being offered employment. In the film, Adrian Paci has paid them to hold up lightbilbs connected to rumbling generators. “The flickering light of the bulbs can be read as a contradictory metaphor for the men’s vulnerable condition but also for their inner strength and spirit. In the twilight, the bulbs appear shining like stars against a dark sky.”

Women at Work I – Under Construction (1999) by Maja Bajevic
Refugee women worked at embroidering patterns on the protective tarp covering the facade of the National Museum of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which was under renovation for damages incurred during the war. At night, the women worked by lamplight, creating small intimate rooms with see-through walls. Their embroidery works were otherwise excluded from the collections of the National Museum.

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The tour bus of our cinema

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