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Ritualised Frequencies

Church of the Sacred Heart, Edinburgh
Saturday July 21st 2012
Madonna may have been getting sacred and profane with what was by all 
accounts a limp Like A Prayer routine over at Murrayfield, but it took 
Saturday night in a Jesuit chapel hall to really come together. The 
occasion was 16mm film divas Screen Banditas latest cross-art 
'adventure in real film', as they put it for this exposition of rituals 
both ancient and modern by way of live soundtracks to crucial 
ethnographic anthropological archive footage.

Artist Ariadne Xenou sets a striking tone with a brief introduction 
that puts the stress on ritual as a liminal experience, in which social 
orders and conventions are upended, but most people are sitting on the 
floor by this time anyway, only standing during the interval to form an 
orderly queue to witness Xenou's striking installation in a tiny 
ante-room.

Before that, the depiction of native New Zealanders in 'Maori Days' is 
underscored by a duo of the The One Ensemble/Volcano the Bear auteur 
Daniel Padden and Howie Reeve of Tattie Toes. As on-screen rubbing 
noses moves into twitching, gyrating rites, the duo's shuffly, 
twang-laden rhythms emulate and echo the hand-clapping abandonment 
captured on camera.

Xenou's vintage back-lit photographs provide a rare moment of 
stillness, tucked away as they are in the ante-room's shrine-like 
cocoon, where death, transfiguration and any other altered state 
required can take a well-earned breather.

For Maya Deren's 'Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti', filmed 
between 1947 and 1954, and not pieced together until after Deren's 
death by her third husband Teiji Ito in the early 1980s, former 
Whitehouse provocateur William Bennett in his Cut Hands guise offers a 
more martial, full-on clatter. Deren's insider-take on voodoo, slo-mo 
animal sacrifices and the dervish-like palpitations of those on-screen 
may have been filmed in Haiti, but, led by Bennett's increasingly 
frenetic electronic pounding, it all starts to resemble congregations a 
little closer to home.

Part 'Live and Let Die', part rave generation wig-out in the woods, 
part Lothian Road at chucking out time, if such sounds and visions were 
beamed before a pop-eyed club-land crowd in search of salvation in a 
late-night, lights-down context,  the trip would be even more 
intoxicating.

The List, July 2012

ends

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