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Against (2021). Neville Starling

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Away and Again Away forms the Bulawegian chapter of IM-POSSIBILITY, an international circuit of happenings curated by Elena Korzhenevich. Away and Again Away is composed of a two-channel film titled Against, and a sound piece by the one and only Simon Njami placed in conversation with an interview of our very own maestro of words, Yvonne Vera to form the installation The Dream Children. These pieces are set within the constant flux and connective power of the home-studio, a rhizomatic world of multiple possibilities.

As a non-specific memorial, Away and Again Away is an affirmation of difference through associations of disparate imagery paired with a non-referencing, non-symbolic, non-signifying music that Nietzsche might describe as “the immediate language of the will”. A music who’s meaning is activated by the listener’s sensibilities alone whilst still operating through a collective process. Away and Again Away interrogates the taut relationship between a closeness to tragedy and the differentiating nature of hope. Tragedy as a being-next-to, a remembrance, and hope as a desire sustaining vulnerability towards multiple possibilities.

Simultaneities, memories, repetitions, rebirths, disparate associations, an embrace of the unknown and languages of the will propel both the film and the aural conversation through mechanisms of personal interiority and externalisations where the subjective meets the primal Oneness of music.

The film is a diptychal montage edited from collected home-movies created during the final moments of the Zimbabwean independence struggle – this, importantly, is the generation that Yvonne Vera called “the dream children”. This imagery is carried by a reading of the beginning of Vera’s sublime novel, Butterfly Burning with her evocations of repetition and returns, placed in harmony with the Nietzschean “symbolic intuition” of Dionysian music. A music which allows us to mediate the imagery, document, story or memory beyond the ego into what Vera calls, “full desire”. This film takes its name, Against, from the chorus of a quote from Vera novel:

The brow is perpetually furrowed, constricted against this action, and against another remembered; against regret for a possible inaction, and against each memory that dares not to be understood. A silence, perhaps, or something near and anticipated but not yet done. There is waiting.

The sonic conversation, The Dream Children, is based entirely on the known as it relates to the unknown; we could call this memory and hope. Njami's sound piece is in French, a language not many Bulawegians will understand. Essentially transforming his work into a non-referential, non-symbolic music open to an infinity of possible meanings. Clearly based on language, this mysterious piece heightens the driving question: what is he is saying? Placed in conversation with an interview regarding a closeness to tragedy - a pathos - in Zimbabwe around the time of Vera’s resignation as the director of the National Gallery in Bulawayo, this opens up a vulnerability to a very personal, non-signified imaginations of a reply to that tragedy through the movement of music. A hope perhaps, or a presence of possible metamorphosis. Something beyond the known, beyond memory; to what Vera would call, “hope larger than memory.”

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