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Sarah vanagt, vermeire katrien
The Wave
Experimental doc. | hdv | color | 20'0'' | Belgium / France | 2012
In "The Wave" the archaeological gaze of the viewer is set in motion: a mass grave from the Spanish Civil War (1936?39) opens and closes itself. In 2011 we placed a camera above the spot where nine victims were buried after their execution by Franco?s supporters in June 1939. On day one of the excavation, a digging crane gently loosened the top layer of soil, until the archaeologists came across a skull with a bullet hole. Then the archaeologists continued their work by hand. The skeletons appeared, then disappeared, as if a strong wind blew that removed the sand and uncovered death, a primal truth.
Sarah Vanagt studied history at the universities of Antwerp, Sussex and Groningen, and film at the National Film and Television School (UK). She makes documentaries, video installations and photos, in which she combines her interest for history with her interest for (the origins of) cinema. Her graduation film AFTER YEARS OF WALKING (2003) looks at the rewriting of Rwandan history after the genocide of 1994. In LITTLE FIGURES (2003), a short experimental documentary film, three immigrant children in Brussels play the role of three historical statues. The documentary film BEGIN BEGAN BEGUN (2005) and the video-installation LES MOUCHOIRS DE KABILA (2005) both focus on the play-world of children growing up in the war-torn border zone between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and look at the way in which children deal with death, the recent wars and elections. The short film FIRST ELECTIONS (2006) is a single-screen version of LES MOUCHOIRS DE KABILA. In 2007 Vanagt first presented POWER CUT at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels. The installation consists of short videos and photos made by three Congolese street children, and of voice-recordings by two young soldiers who took part in the recent wars in Congo and Rwanda. The single-channel version of this installation is called SILENT ELECTIONS (2009). In HEAD (2007), the installation Vanagt made for the Young Belgian Painters Award, she combined super 8 footage of the ancient city of Pompei with images of new-born babies. The video installation ASH TREE (2007) is based on Mary Shelly`s childhood. A 5-year old girl wanders on a graveyard in London while she spells the letters on the graves. The child`s first contact with the alphabet is at once her first contact with death. Since 2006 Vanagt works on a series of photos of special graveyards and monuments in Europe. The photo series SOLAR CEMETERY (2009), about solar panels on a Spanish cemetery, was made with a camera obscura, and presented on solar-powered light boxes. BOULEVARD D`YPRES / IEPERLAAN (2010) is an experimental documentary shot in the street where Vanagt lives. She turned an empty store houses into a film studio, and invited her neighbours ? a mix of refugees, shopkeepers, newcomers ? to come and tell a story, a fairy tale. The short piece THE CORRIDOR (2010) focuses on the mute encounter between a donkey and an old man in an English nursing home. In October 2011 Katrien Vermeire en Vanagt filmed the exhumation of a mass grave of Franco victims in Spain. Based on the material they brought home from Spain they made a film (20`), a photo series and two wrapped flipbooks (title The Wave, 2012). Currently Vanagt is working on a film based on pencil rubbings made in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (premiere in May 2013).