The shrine to summon the souls
The shrine to summon the souls opens a cycle of short films investigating and constructing an ongoing reinterpretation of history using symbolic locations, frameworks of historiography, historical, political, and sociological ideologies, and various cultural relics.
Blossoming cherry trees in the gardens surrounding Yasukuni Shrine (The Shrine to Summon the Souls) in Tokyo offer a spectacle of fugitive beauty and an intense experience of time as if passing moments were visible with every tiny white petal falling on stones paving the paths between the trees. It is a special moment for a meeting of many narratives of the past and the present seemingly out of time, where the living walk alike the absent spirits. The temple is consecrated to the heroes of the country, among them controversial ones from the period of the Second World War. The memory is being aestheticized, but under the surface of a charming landscape, the violence, contempt, rage and hate due to a failure of the struggle for freedom is echoed by a human voice.
The video uses fragments of the original text and music of Pasolini’s film “La Rabbia” from 1963. The image alternates with three kinds of sequences of long shots of trees and sky, medium shots showing empty paths or feet of passing people and close-ups of ground looking like an abstract composition. Through the musical layer as well as through the spoken passages the Rage is summoned like a spirit accompanying a new film material (50 years later), which this time does not document the living, but shows a garden as a receptacle of an uneasy memory and the only violence in the image is in the cuts between shots. Instead of archival footage of uprisings and faces of people fighting for their causes used by Pasolini in “La rabbia”, in the video, there are faceless images of a nearly abstract space dominated by nature and emptiness that reveal a vulnerable beauty and unexplained common tragedy of history.
The interpretation of the Pasolini’s “La Rabbia” in the work presents sadness as a result of a choice to remember. Unlike the platonic concept of the beauty as an idea identical with the ultimate good and the truth, although it shines through the dull reality, it is rather a reminder of failure and vulnerability. The fear, responsibility, and beauty reside in a memory that can be found in an individual narrative of a collective experience.
Konstanty Szydłowski, 2013