US PREMIERE: In the darkness of a cinema space, the audience sits blindfolded. Behind each row of audience members is a row of children who in hushed voices describe a film only they can see. Accompanied by the soundtrack (which has no dialogue), the whispered descriptions are a fragile, fragmentary and at times struggling but courageous attempt by the children to make sense of what they see projected on the screen.
Based on the method of audio description, Blind Cinema as a live event is an experience where the act of watching a film becomes a shared investment: A collaborative and imaginative act between seeing children and blinded adults. It embraces the fact that the act of trying to find the right words to describe (even if at times being ‘at a loss for words’) and of trying to hold onto the consequently unstable images created in the mind’s eye, will always only be an approximation. To articulate in words in order to share experiences involves a struggle, a struggle that seems to be closest to those in the midst of discovering language’s potential and limits. In focusing on that which lies beyond the sense of sight (leaving the illusory reality of cinema to re-enter that of the imagination), the attention oscillates between each shared but internal world guided by the whispering voice, and the shared physical space of the darkened cinema.
The film, which has been specifically made for this performance, will be seen by each group of children for the first time. Hence, each performance will have a new group of describing children aged between 8 and 11. Blind Cinema is a co-production between Vooruit (Gent), Beursschowburg (Brussels), and Bronks Theatre (Brussels). This edition of Blind Cinema is presented in partnership with Portland Public Schools (PPS), with the collaboration of Boise-Eliot ⁄ Humboldt School and King School. Special thanks to Kristen Brayson, Kevin Bacon, Jill Sage, and participating teachers at PPS for their enthusiastic support of this project.
Britt Hatzius works in film, video, sound, and performance, exploring ideas around language, interpretation, and the potential for discrepancies, ruptures, and (mis/)communication. Her work has been shown internationally at galleries, institutions, and performance and media arts festivals. Recent collaborations include the cinematic installation Micro Events (2012) with Tom Kok, the interactive performance This Is Not My Voice Speaking (2013) with Ant Hampton, and a site-specific installation As Never Before, As Never Again (2014) with Ant Hampton.
Direction & concept: Britt Hatzius
Dramaturgy: Ant Hampton
Film: Britt Hatzius, Simon Arazi, Boris Belay, Maxim
Design & production (blindfolds & contraptions): Britt Hatzius, Maria Koerkel, Gert Aertsen
Creative producer: Katja Timmerberg
Thanks to: Thomas Tajo, Georgia Venetakis, Geertje De Ceuleneer, Axel Cleeremans, Campbell Works Gallery, Susanne Dietz, Neil Benun, Miila, Nico, Alice, Josh, Marina, Rebecca, Anne Haaning, Dunkan Speakman, LABO BxL, Houle, Cunio and Bown (music), and everyone who kindly attended the many try-outs.