Symphony for Absent Wildlife

Date: 2020
Materials: Single screen projection with quadrophonic sound
Dimensions: Projection ratio 16:9. Duration 18'
Exhibition history: 2020 Courant Vert, Fondation Groupe EDF, Paris, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta

The film Symphony for Absent Wildlife draws together four performances staged in the Banff National Park, Calgary, Milan and London to weave a story of loss through the history of the point-blanket. The felt point-blanket was an exchange commodity between First Nations peoples and the early European trappers.

The wool blankets were woven and felted in the North of England, traded for beaver fur in Canada, and gradually effaced the indigenous cultural identity, to become the ‘democratic’ capote. Felt is also the material used for the orchestra’s costume depicted in the film. It is shaped into the masks of birds and animals connected with the spirit belief system of the indigenous peoples in Canada. These creatures –bison, wolves, eagles– hunted to near extinction, were once abundant across the Albertan plains. A symphony is played on bird-whistles and recounts the cycle of disappearance as the dawn-chorus closes with a heart-wrenching silence.

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