In Madagascar, the most important religious festival, besides a funeral, is the so called “turning of the dead”. At intervals of several years, the bones of the deceased are taken out of the grave by the family, wrapped in fresh linen, and solemnly carried through the village accompanied by music, dancing and animal sacrifices. The purpose of this ritual is to show the deceased what changes have occurred since their death or last “turning”. For example: new born children, freshly cultivated fields or recently constructed buildings. The festival lasts for several days. Over the course of which, the relatives share their troubles with their ancestors and request assistance in their hardships.
During their residency in Madagascar in July 2019, Silas Heizmann and Miro Widmer will be researching this Malagasy tradition with a particular focus on the brass bands that play during the festival. The duo are interested in understanding the significance and place of European instruments in this context. Silas explains: “For our upcoming video-project, we plan on researching the backgrounds of the ceremonies and the involved marching-bands. Is there a story to be told? Do the musicians play individually, without the event and the bands?”
The two Swiss artists will work with Antanarivo-based production company Endemika Films, who will provide on the ground assistance with coordination, research and facilitating connections with local Malagasy families.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Silas Heizmann (*1990 in Basel) lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. He studied fine arts at the University of the Arts (FHNW) in Basel and at the Academy of Fine Arts (HGB) in Leipzig, Germany. Since 2015 he has worked as a freelance artist, graphic designer and screenprinter in Basel. In 2018 he was shortlisted for the Kiefer Hablitzel|Göhner Prize. He won the first prize of the Swiss competition at Videox in Zurich. Silas’ work is presented at film festivals and exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad. Recent exhibitions include the 3rd Tbilisi Triennale in Georgia, 2018; Swiss Art Awards, Kiefer Hablitzel|Göhner; COMING SOON, Studio 20, Yerevan; Something was about to happen here, 2017; There will be no slow motion or still life, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art ACCEA NPAK, Yerevan; 2016 Semantic RIOTS, Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel, 2016; and Plattform, Kunstraum Walcheturm, Zürich.
Miro Widmer (*1989 In Basel) lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. He works as a freelance cinematographer and musician. His works include various co-productions with artists, musicians and directors such as Why Not, 2018 (cinematography, editing); Coming Soon, 2017 (cinematography, editing); Vostok, 2017 (director, cinematography, editing), Playback, 2014 (cinematography/light), Landi Bandi: Travel Cheap, 2013 (cinematography/light). He also composed the soundtrack for the theater production for Theater Falle Basel Der Prozess, 2018 and Gut gegen Nordwind, 2012. As a musician, Miro plays in various formations such as Zaperlipopette (drummer, performer); and Combineharvester (drummer).