A Year

A Year, 2015 | video, 18′

Directing & sound: Maïa Wolf | Images & editing: Maïa Wolf  &  Max Idje

Texts from: A letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Augustine of Canterbury (6th Century) | Ovid, Fasti, (6 A. D.)

« The Wheel Keeps Turning

A Year is a film essay that weaves writings from folklorist texts. We are taken on a journey that reflects our present while belonging to an ancient order. We are bound by rituals, sometimes maintaining them because it is all we have known. But as medievalist Philippe Walter proposes, many rural and urban rituals were linked to old Indo-European beliefs. The cyclic forces of the sun, moon and seasons are linked to sacred actions that are dispersed over the course of the year.

Time travelling. We are in the woods, the birthplace of fairytales. In a village in Geneva, a man wearing a tree costume covered in leaves and flowers heralds the spring. On the summer solstice, a fire burns brightly on the beach. People dance, drink and plunge into the flames: a symbol of renewal and fertility. Zombies walk the streets of Amsterdam on All Hallow’s Eve. Bells ring out at Sylvester to frighten bad spirits away. Through chaos we renew, giving birth to new ideas; through renewal we avoid decay.

The power of actions upheld through symbols over the years reminds me of American psychoanalyst M.A. Sechehaye, who invented the method for the treatment of schizophrenia that became known as symbolic realisation. Her research found that speech, regardless of its rich symbolism, could not go beyond the conscious, and that ‘she could reach buried complexes only through acts.’ Similarly, Maïa’s anthropological observations capture a cultural madness. Her camera lens documents these symbolic acts, provoking unconscious perspectives about what it is to be human. The tradition of anthropology bases its practice on understanding communal relationships; so too for the artist, whose task it is to hold up a mirror to society. »

Text by : Michelle Williams Gamaker

Work linked to the booklet Three Winter Rites