Eija-Liisa Ahtila

1 January 1970

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November 2 – December 16

The Hour of Prayer

2005, 14min 12sec
(DVD installation for 4 projections, 4:3, sound DD 5.1, original language English)

narrator/woman LAURA MALMIVAARA written & directed by EIJA-LIISA AHTILA cinematography ARTO KAIVANTO, ILPPO POHJOLA, EIJA-LIISA AHTILA editing HEIKKI KOTSALO sound design PETER NORDSTRÖM set design TIINA PAAVILAINEN financial support by AVEK, FRAME, SKR, TKT, Fondazione la Biennale di VENEZIA produced by ILPPO POHJOLA / CRYSTAL EYE, Tallberginkatu 1/44, 00180 Helsinki, Finland, mail@crystaleye.fi

“On that day, death entered our house, and time abandoned us there alone. I took my feet off the ground and curled them up under me, and tried just to be.”

THE HOUR OF PRAYER is a short tale about attachment and death. It is based on the artist’s own life. Via the events surrounding the death of a dog, it tells the story of death entering a house and of the process of dealing with grief. These events begin in New York during a winter storm in January and end in Benin, West Africa, eleven months later.

The first part of the narrative retells a classical tale, in which the words and events explain each other and form a chronological progression. As the narrator speaks, words for time are prominent and images and sounds record the changes of season in various landscapes. The installation is made up of original video material shot at the time of the events and of reconstructed situations. An actor / narrator presents the story directly to the camera on a dark expanse of sand, which as the story progresses is revealed to be a set. The work moves away from the events in the story and the attribution of meaning, becoming a more general presentation of a private experience. It ends with the actor walking through the different sets singing to viewers the words of Lhasa’s “Small Song”.

The Hour of Prayer is shown in four simultaneous projections. The material is split into four parts and the story has been edited to unfold on four screens. The intention is to explore the possibilities of disrupting the traditional causal logic, structure and space for perception in screen narrative, while still being able to follow the events.

© 2005 Crystal Eye Ltd, Helsinki

Written & Directed by Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Produced and Copyright owned by Crystal Eye Ltd, Helsinki
Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris

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