A cultural portrait of contemporary Croatia emerges from this unusual twist on a music video.
Swedish artist Johanna Billing's work often takes the form of cultural portraits, depicting societies with a sense of melancholy and nostalgia. In her new work, Magical World (2005), Billing traveled to a suburb of Zagreb, Croatia, to film a group of children practicing and performing the 1968 song "Magical World," written by Sidney Barnes of Rotary Connection. The hopeful lyrics find new meaning as Billing cuts between shots of the rehearsing children (who struggle with newly learned English) and their dreary environment--a country emerging from communism and conflict and building toward membership in the European Union. (6:12 mins., continuous loop)
Johanna Billing lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. She has recently exhibited work at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, and Marabou Park Annex, Sundbyberg, Sweden (both in 2006); the 9th International Istanbul Biennial (2005); Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2005); and the Venice Biennale (2003).
Magical World Credits
Cinematographer: Manne Lindwall
Musical Arrangements: Petra Jezutkovic
Original Song by Sidney Barnes 1968 (Chevis Music publishing Corp, BMI)
Participants: Petra Jezutkovic, Sonja Boric, Tadej Horwatic-Cajko, Mara Mati-Soldan, Ena and Sara Anicic, Lenka, Martin and Josip Mestric, Klara and Lucija Petrac, Ivana Leksic, Nikolina Penic, Zvonomir Retkovac, Mane Galoviæ, and Tomislav Djurinec
Coproduced by WHW/Rooseum