WALZER had it’s world premiere and got nominated at the BFI London Film Festival 2022 XR/Expanded
Ulrich Schrauth, curator of the BFI London Film Festival Expanded wrote:
‘Composer and performance artist Frieda Gustavs collaborates with visual artist and photography collector Leo Erken on this thought-provoking VR experience. A complex, three-dimensional virtual collage is created out of thousands of old photographs gleaned from private collections, online marketplaces and flea markets. It serves as a backdrop for non-linear narratives encompassing women’s rights and the first wave of feminism in Western Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As this collection was amassed, personal histories emerged that, in the resulting work, allow participants to create their own journeys, drawing on characters and events from this era. Opening in a thick fog, a sole balloon begins the journey, which features an original score by Gustavs – the waltz of the project’s title’.
Al Jazeera about the BFI London Film Festival 2022 XR/Expanded
Walzer is a virtual reality experience with several stories circling women’s rights and the first wave of feminism during the late 19th and early 20th century.
As you travel through a virtual photographic landscape, a waltz is your guide. When you move around, the waltz morphs into a variety of moods. It never leaves your side. Multiple different instruments invite you into multiple different atmospheres. Voices whisper, sing, yell, narrate stories, songs and poems in eight different languages. They want you to know about far away places, your own past and emotions that may feel familiar. Even though they might address you in a language you don’t understand, you could be enlightened by other visitors. Inside this virtual world the user’s knowledge, background and behavior determines the experience. Afterwards you have to discuss with others to determine what you have just experienced.
In the woods a young girl who lived around 1906, expresses her anger at a shift in attention towards her newborn sister.
At the beach and in the sea women seek relaxation and freedom.
When you look through the facades of western cities you see huge anonymous female workforces.
At a fair women and men are dreaming of mobility.
During the great terror in the Soviet Union – in the 1930s – millions of women disappeared and were erased from history.
A young female dancer has turned into a statue.
Between 1855 and 1865 women of all classes wore the crinoline with pride. For many it was a cage.
Colonisation financed a historic square. The stones and statues remind us of cultural appropriation and exploitation.
An international street crowded with women morphs into early 20th century Amsterdam where living conditions were so bad that many children did not reach adulthood.
A tableau featuring Amsterdam women shows social inequality in the 19th and early 20th century.
Groups of women walk into the mountains. On top of the rocks two prominent Dutch feminists arise: Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929), first wave feminist leader and first female medical doctor in the Netherlands and Wilhelmina Drucker (1847-1925) feminist leader, politician and writer.
At a corner you can see two portraits of anonymous women by German born Emma Kirchner (1830-1909). She was a single mother and the first female in the Netherlands who made a living as a photographer using her full maiden name.
The Dutch society in the late 19th and early 20th century had strong limits for female friendships. Institutional and parental control forced young women to move around in groups of three. A virtual square at night in Amsterdam is dedicated to the prison of social control.
This vr was built with thousands of unknown personal photographs found on flea markets, online marketplaces and private collections. Personal history that was hiding in boxes and albums. Most pictures were made by anonymous photographers or, as most of them from the 19th century, in local photo studios. During the process of collecting and digital restoration, intriguing stories emerged. Narratives developed when we connected pictures with other pictures and combined them with music, words, sounds and 3D technology.
Walzer was created by composer & performer Frieda Gustavs and visual artist & photography collector Leo Erken with technical support by Cris Mollee and Malou Minkjan.
The central waltz in the project was composed by Frieda Gustavs and performed by Catarina Gomez, Pedro Silva, Mafalda C. Oliveira, Daniel Ferreira (saxophones), Khrystyna Kulchynska (cello), Anastasia Zavorina (double bass), Arjan Linker (trombone), Piotr Majoor (trumpet), Nuno Lobo (bassoon), Teresa Costa (bass flute) and Frieda Gustavs (gamelan, glockenspiel, accordion, melódica, guitar, bouzouki, ukulele, cavaquinho, piano and voice).
Voice girl in the woods: Ann Kolman. Russian voices: Nadezhda Titova, Natalia Eremina and Yana Volovich. English voice: Emily Bannister. German and Dutch voice: Frieda Gustavs. German voice: Svea Gustavs, Polish voice: Nina Pokutycka, Dutch voices: Kristy van Dijk, Ernie Buts and Mies Dijksterhuis. Japanese and Dutch voice: Kiriko Mechanicus. Italian voice: Olivia Benali. Portuguese voice: Inês Lopes.
Special thanks to Jilt van Moorst and Marie Louise Schipper.
Click on image to enlarge.