Parole e musica: David Lang. Mus.: Angel Blue (voce), Bryan Wagorn (direttore), David Creswell (viola), Anja Wood (violoncello), Miles Salerni (percussioni). Prod. Audio: Marlan Berry. Prod.: Bill Morrison DCP.
In 2012, George Willeman, the nitrate vault manager of the Library of Congress’s Audio Visual Conservation Center on the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, alerted me to a uniquely decayed film from their vaults. It was a reel from Pawns of Passion (1928), a silent German production known as Liebeshölle in its original language, which translates as “Love Hell.” The film had been donated to the Library by Bruce Lawton, Jr., who after the sudden death of a colleague, had come into possession of a large cache of nitrate films that had been stored for the better part of the century in a barn in Pennsylvania.
… The backstory of Pawns of Passion involves a Russian ballerina who, after having been separated from her young son in 1917, throws herself into the Seine in Paris, whereupon she is rescued by an artist … It is a rumination on love, and the borderline separating two souls, seemingly from the precipice of consciousness. The film is walking this same line. Left to rot in a barn, and then scanned and archived again for another eight years on my own personal hard drive, it has found a new life through David Lang’s words and music, and Angel Blue’s voice. What survives are these few images pulled from the river Styx, between this earth and the underworld.