With Zeena Parkins
and Maja Ratkje
Loneliness and the Modern Pentathlon 2004 - 2005, Daria Martin
Wintergarden 2005, Daria Martin
London based, San Francisco born artist Daria Martin uses the medium of film to reveal and explore thematic polarities, to make explicit the artifice behind the lyricism and seduction created by her work. Reality versus illusion, stasis versus movement, modernity and romanticism are some of the tensions explored in her work. Her filmmaking is a purposeful mix of the sophisticated and the crude. Drawing on a rich source of philosophical and artistic theory while eschewing technological advances, her films aim to overtly seduce the viewer into a dreamy 'virtual reality'. Her film Loneliness And The Modern Pentathlon examines 20th century avant garde ideals via an arcane Olympic sport, the pentathlon, an anachronistic, but still surviving event comprised of running, swimming, shooting, horseback riding and fencing. Tensions between aspiration and exhaustion, between forward-looking modernity and nostalgic romanticism and between artifice and expression are heightened and unravelled in this layered film, which stars British New Wave cinema icon Rita Tushingham and features a dreamlike soundtrack by acclaimed New York based harpist Zeena Parkins.
Electra acted as music consultants and paired Martin with Zeena Parkins as a composer for Loneliness And The Modern Pentathlon. An accordionist, harpist, composer and improvisor, Parkins has also extended the language of the acoustic harp with the inventive use of playing techniques, preparations, and layers of digital and analogue processing. Parkins makes use of anything within reach as a possible tool with which she can enhance the sonic capabilities of her harps. She thinks of her harp as a 'sound machine of limitless capacity' and has used household objects and hardware store finds, including alligator clips, nails, rubber tubing, felt, hair clips, as well as more conventional leslie cabinets and guitar pedals to explore her instrument. The collaboration between Martin and Parkins led to the Tate Modern commission Regeneration on 2 April 2005 in the Turbine Hall, collaborative performance and installation. Regeneration featured a live performance of Parkins's new composition, alongside a set piece and slide show created by Martin.
Daria Martin's Wintergarden was filmed and premiered at the modern architectural masterpiece De La Warr Pavillion on the south coast of England. The film aims to create a new form of variety theatre, miming and fast-forwarding this genre's rich traditions to create an artwork that is surprisingly contemporary, even futuristic. Martin and Electra worked together to bring Norwegian composer Maja Ratkje into this project. She became the soundtrack composer and also plays a vital part in the film as an actor. Ratkje is a classically trained composer based in Norway using electronics and voice to create otherwordly sounds. She has composed operas, worked with large scale orchestras, as well as collaborated with electronic noise composer Lasse Marhaug, vocal improvisor Jaap Blonk toured with American noise rock group Wolfeyes as well as being a founding member of improvisation ensemble SPUNK and one half of noise duo Fe-Mail.