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video, color, miniDV and 16mm transferred to BETA, screening format DVD, 10:23, 2004.g.

 

In February 2005, the Croatian National Theatre tried to emulate the Viennese Opern ball by launching its own annual Ball. The Viennese Opern Ball has long been seen in Croatia as the pinnacle of high society, and Vienna as the heart of an imaginary Croatian cultural and political heritage – the Austro Hungarian Empire. The imaginary source shaping Croatian national identity is Vienna. The venture is primarily a business venture, the commodity on sale is the fantasy of an Imperial past, a colonised subject’s longing for belonging to the mother state.

During her two month resideny in Vienna in 2003 Nicole Hewitt recorded and filmed preparations, auditions and reharsals for the annual Vienese Opera Ball. She then used the audio material to reconstruct the rehearsals and micro scenes that occurred in Vienna. What we see is a mime act which sometimes concurrs with the original audio and at other times slips.

The visuals are shot on mini DV and 16 mm. The mini DV footage emulates the mini DV footage shot from the rehearsals in Vienna, while the 16 mm signals a literal mise en scene of history as political fantasy. The 16 mm footage is telecined in two stages. The first straight from negative on antiquated Croatian TV technology, so the defficiency of the image is the result of a comparative technological backwardness, the second stage was telecined from a positive print and through comparative technological modernity achieves a technicolour hue.

The images were separated frame by frame, frozen and then set into a series of dissolves, which brings upon a stilted reanimation of stillness. This is at once a strategy to render time dense but also to pluck it out of history and place mimicry in the rhetorical.

Direction, Animation, Editing, Production: Nicole Hewitt Photography: Bruno Bahunek Featuring: Bruno Bahunek, Branka Benčić, Jelena Bračun, Nicole Hewitt, Ana Hušman, Miro Huzjak, Marija Ivšić, Ivana Jurić, Slaven Kopač, Ljubica Letinić, Igor Pavlica, Vjeran Pavlinić, Darijan Perić, Maja Rožman, Natalaija Škalić, Nana Sklevicki, Marija Sršen, Mirjana Groeneweg Topolovec