Songs of Hain is an expanded documentary about the Selknam people, one of the native communities from Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego (the largest island in the southern tip of Chile and Argentina) who were almost made extinct by the European settlers in the early 20th century. The Selknam did not use a writing system and were not image-makers but their rituals, dances, and chants had a complex and rich performativity. Their main cultural manifestation was the Hain ceremony in which men dressed up as spirits to perform the Selknam cosmogony for an audience of women and children who - presumably not knowing that the spirits were men in disguise - experienced the performances with fear. Through the Hain ceremony masculine power was legitimized and the patriarchal social organization of the Selknam people safeguarded.
Songs of Hain is a re-enactment of the Hain ceremony. Through research with archaeologists, Selknam descendants, and feminist activists, choreographer and musician Pablo Lilienfeld and filmmaker Federico Strate have reinterpreted the images that European anthropologists took of the ceremony. In collaboration with a choir and a group of folkloric dancers of diverse origins, the artists have adapted costumes, makeup, masks, chants, gestures and dances.
In this Hain there are no dressed-up men and no terrified women. There are two fake blondes, two colonial choreographers assisted by a whole team of spirits. The masks become pixels, the body-painting becomes filters and the voices are turned into vocoders. The spirits are transformed into stage sets, into FX, into VR, into MP3. The blondes are in control but they do not believe their own orders. The dancers outwardly obey because in fact they are following their own ancestors and dance and sing for them.
But everybody believes in what they are doing, in the intuition that runs in the blood.
A project by Pablo Lilienfeld and Federico Vladimir
Music based on the selknam chants sung by Lola Kiepja and recorded by Anne Chapman in 1966
Choreographies based on the descriptions made by Martin Gusinde of the selknam dances Hostan, Kewanix and Kulpush, performed during the Hain ceremony of 1923
With Estela Mansur, Margarita Maldonado, Estela Maldonado, Ljudmila Pezdirc, Monica Kerner, Cecilia Marani, Iván Figueroa (Colectivo Lemebel), María Fernanda Araya, Alika Kinan, Margarita Alvarado, Brenda Vilte, Mirtha Salamanca and Miguel Pantoja.
Dancers: Relonche Aconcagua, Lorenza Aillapan, Natalia Bullon, Juan Cruz, Álvaro Jara, Ximena López, Isabel Torres, Jeannette Varas, Victoria Veloz, Paulina Vielma, NIcolás Puntar, Kati Javorsek and Nati Javorsek.
USACH Choir: Marta Gajardo, Consuelo Padilla, Natalia Belardy, Áurea Argomedo, Norma Alarcón, Raúl Galleguillos, Sebastián Muñoz, Cristian Valdes, Diego Garate and Franco Medina.
Colectivo Lemebel: Valentina Aguilera, Cristóbal Ceballos, Iván Figueroa, Vitalia González, Catalina Machuca, Matías Medina, Javiera Orellana, Bastián Rodríguez, María Fernanda Pérez
Narrators: Cecilia Marani y Natalia Sosa
16mm: Ernesto Baca
2nd camera operators: Tomás Duarte y Jerson Fernández
Modified celluloid workshop: Nelson Vargas
3D modeling and animation: Patricio Concha y Nelson Espinoza
Sound assistant: Alejandro Marani
Tanu costume design: Aarón López
Prosthetic make-up assistants: María Jesús Reyes y Jorge Arocar
This project was possible thanks to the Scholarship for Overseas creation from Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Fundación Gas Natural Fenosa, A Coruña - Spain
With the support from NAVE, Santiago de Chile, Chile
Film screening + after talk
Haizebegi Festival. Bayonne, French Basque Country
Film screening + installation Monitoring - Kasseler DokFest
Screening + after talk
Ciclo Audiovisual Tradiciones Subvertidas
La Casa Encendida, Madrid
NAVE, Santiago de Chile
Cantos del Hain - residency sharing
TanzHaus, Zurich Switzerland
Film. Inside PS/Y Hysteria programm
1/6/2017 – 17/09/2017
Film + installation
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Gas Natural Unión Fenosa
Public film shooting. NAVE, Santiago de Chile
TEXT BY QUIELA NUC
In Songs of Hain the performativity of ancestral dances and ceremonies are updated through bodies and voices subdued for centuries by their own communities and families. Federico Vladimir and Pablo Lilienfeld work with multiple layers in what ends up being a documentary that overflows all the limits of the genre. They play with celluloid and digital, they paint it, scratch it and tear it apart, they destroy the image to create new cosmogonies born from the freedom given by the chroma-key green. In this remaking of history and collapsing of time, Intimacy and collectivity dance together without a safe distance. Among the guests invited to the neoceremony of the Hain are archaeologists, feminist activists, specialists in ethno-aesthetics, Selk’nam, Mapuche, Aymara, Chilean and Argentinian descendants. Also, two fake blonde Europeans whose grandparents fled a continent at war.
Quiela Nuc, curator of the program Tradiciones Subvertidas in La Casa Encendida