an installation of text, song, light
by helen varley jamieson
Music from Fragments of Love,
composed and sung by Helen
Text by Sappho, in a version by Anne Carson
her light stretches combines
Helen Chadwick's hauntingly beautiful compositions for Sappho's
words with ethereal text animations that assemble and dissolve
in an expanding space of reflection and refraction.
Sappho's poetry has drifted across the centuries
to us in fragments, moving from stone tablets to printed words,
translated across languages and transformed into music; now her
words are transmediated into drifting pixels of light across
"A magical space that left me floating ... that
quietened me ... that allowed me to breathe deeply."
Jill Greenhalgh, theatre director (UK)
"The installation was original and beautiful
and came as a stark surpise from the location it was placed
in. It gave me a direct emotional message of darkness, sorrow
and sweet beauty."
Geddy Aniksdal, actor, Grenland Friteater (Norway)
"The darkness, the resonant space, the magic
of the text play and Helen's celestial voice which seems to
come from the heavens themselves, the echoes of the mirrors,
it's the digital version of the caves of the ancients ..."
Madeline McNamara, actor and director
Audiences enter the space a few
at a time, pausing on the threshhold to allow their eyes to adjust
to the darkness and to listen to Chadwick's echoing voice. Then
they move slowly into a constantly changing space created by
projected text that appears, moves and vanishes in response
to the music. Words form and fracture, spill onto the floor
and play across the bodies of the audience. A
contemplative space is created between Chadwick's voice
and the visualisation of the words.
her light stretches was
first realised at the Holstebro Slagteriet as part of the 2016
Transit Festival, Holstebro, Denmark with the support of Odin
Teatret and City of Munich Department of Arts and Culture.
Thanks to the installation team of Maria Porter, Gutto Basso
and Tomas Lindström; and to Suzon Fuks for video documentation.
The concept has been developed from a similar installation, Recipes
for Life, created by Helen Varley Jamieson in collaboration
with Eva Ursprung in
Graz, Austria in 2010.
Fragments of Love was released
as an album in February 2016, www.helenchadwick.com.
The text comes from If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho first
published by Vintage Books, copyright Anne Carson 2002. By kind
permission of Anne Carson and Aragi Inc.