In the summer of 2001 I was in Kosovo making a documentary about life after the war there. I visited a small town where a traveling theater company had come to perform â€˜Little Red Riding Hood in danger,â€™ a play written to teach kids about land mines in the fields and roads surrounding the town. While I was there I met a young girl and interviewed her about life in the town. After the play, I tried to find her again but she had disappeared. This film started with the memory of this moment. In the film Iâ€™m connecting three stories, the story of meeting this girl, a story about a woman working in an art library in Berlin, and my own story, about how memory and the present can connect.
the same moon everywhere
For Trebor, Emma, and Rosa
Henri Bergson Memory of the Present and False Recognition The memory seems to be to the perception what the image reflected in the mirror is to the object in front of it. The object can be touched as well as seen; acts on us as well as we on it; is pregnant with possible actions; it is actual. The image is virtual, and though it resembles the object, it is incapable of doing what the object does. Our actual existence then, whilst it is unrolled in time, duplicates itself all along with a virtual existence, a mirror-image. Every moment of our life presents two aspects, it is actual and virtual, perception on the one side and memory on the other. Each moment of life is split up as and when it is posited. Or rather, it consists in this very splitting, for the present moment, always going forward, fleeting limit between the immediate past which is now no more and the immediate future which is not yet, would be a mere abstraction were it not the moving mirror which continually reflects perception as a memory. [An article in the â€œRevue Philosophiqueâ€œ, December, 1908, from Mind-Energy. Lectures and Essays, Westport-London: Greenwood Press 1975, pages 134-135, translated by H. Wildon Carr]
Ismail Kadare And when my memory And when my fading memory, Like the after-midnight trams, Stops only at the main stations, I will not forget you. I will remember That quiet evening, endless in your eyes, The stifled sob upon my shoulder, Like snow that cannot be brushed off. The separation came And I departed, far from you. Nothing unusual, But some night Someone’s fingers will weave themselves into your hair, My distant fingers, stretching across the miles. [Edhe kur kujtesa, from the volume Shekulli im, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1961, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published
in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 78]
Edhe kur kujtesa Edhe kur kujtesa ime e lodhur Ashtu si ato tramvajet e pasmesnatës Vetëm në stacionet kryesore do të ndalojë, Une ty s’do të harroj. Do të kujtoj Mbrëmjen e heshtur, të pafund të syve të tu, Dënesën e mbytur, rrëzuar mbi supin tim Si një dëborë e pashkundshme. Ndarja erdhi Po iki larg teje... Asgjë e jashtëzakonshme, Veç ndonjë nate Gishtat e dikujt do të mpleksen në flokët e tu Me të largëtit gishtat e mi, me kilometra të gjatë...
The Same Moon Everywhere
I met her in the summer of 2001 in a small town in Kosovo. It was in the southeastern edge of the country, about 45 minutes’ drive from the capital, Pristina. I was driven there in a Red Cross jeep, down a narrow two-lane highway surrounded by mineladen fields. Off to the right, in a hazy distance, the U.S. military base Camp Bondsteel spread its gray form across the landscape. The day was hot July, road cracked and flat like the fields. As the Jeep bumped along I talked with the driver but don’t remember about what. I was thinking back to the morning’s meeting at the Red Cross offices where I paged through large publications displaying muddied, torn, moldy and damaged clothing and shoes, evidence of absent persons, location unknown. The “Books of Belongings.” He was telling me what we were driving to see. A play for the children in a town near the border: a variation on “Little Red Riding Hood” designed to keep kids from picking up unexploded mines. The landscape had to be relearned. History folds over itself and rattles on, connected by ribbons of time and people. It’s like the Jacob’s Ladder toys of childhood. Tip the top layer and it does it again and you can’t figure out how the one side connects to the other, but there it is again and again, tipping and unfolding, turning and tipping again. We’ve arrived at the town. I’ve been hiding out the entire trip, one eye glued to the eyepiece of my video camera. I’m there to make a
documentary about life in Kosovo just after the war’s end. I’m always filming, so what enters my memory is forced through checkpoints of glass and plastic, translated into electronic signals and inscribed as pixels on a mini digital videotape. And this is what I am doing as we leave the Red Cross Jeep and enter the town square. Kids are already there with their parents and a young man with a guitar is playing, warming up the crowd as the theater company unfolds its simple backdrop. I go up to the shops and kids crowd around me looking at and into the camera. I ask a young girl in the center of the group some questions. I film the kids and turn the viewfinder around so they can see themselves. The girl is answering my questions with great delight; she’s practicing English and impressing her friends and I’m making a movie of her. The play begins: “Little Red Riding Hood in Danger.” I turn to look; the kids disperse. The girl disappears. I left the tapes in a plastic bag in a box until last year. I unpacked them just before we moved. I looked at that one more than once. I see the amphitheater, the van, the scrappy set, the girl grinning at me-and I turn off the picture and pack the tapes back in the box. I bring the box downstairs and throw the whole thing away. ---
The bus station was uneventful. Her heart was pounding but it wasn’t any problem. Crossing the border out was a different story, but she doesn’t want to talk about that. Here everything is normal most of the time but sometimes if she overhears people complaining about the price of garbage bags or a broken escalator she gets upset. Cold sweat, pale, heart pounding. She tells me that at that moment she divides into “the me now who’s here and the 10 year old me tiptoeing around, or in the basement at night listening to the bombs in other parts of the valley or up in the mountains.” The same moon rises at night, the moon over the little kid huddled underground and over the people bickering about the price of apple cake in the shop window. And that seems impossible to her still. She loves poetry but can’t explain exactly why. “It’s like feeling,” she says, but feeling that’s compressed or shattered. Shards of feeling packed into a page. She has her own place and works part time at the library. She likes the job and the people. There’s a special section in the library where people can check out prints, paintings and sculptures. “You can change the whole way your place looks every few months and redecorate,” she says, “I do it too.” She likes best when she can bring the art up and can see who ordered it. A leather-clad man with tattoos orders three little floral watercolors; an old lady carries out a marble sculpture and a brightly colored lithograph of a nude.
A lot of the stuff never moves; paintings sit in the basement year after year. She feels a little sorry for those artists, she tells me, but figures they probably forgot they made those things anyway. I ask her to choose, if she had to choose her favorites. “That’s hard,” she says, but gives it some thought. “Something big and colorful, something that goes out, that expands. Give me a little time, I’ll pick a few and show you.”
The Same Moon Everywhere A film by Jenny Perlin 16mm/HD, color & b/w sound, 19:45, 2013 with Ema Ndoja Camera: Sebastian Krügler, Jenny Perlin Sound Mix: Ansgar Frerich, Die Basis Berlin FIlm Lab: Arri Berlin/München Thank you Heather Abel, Ariella Ben-Dov, Nova Benway, Candice Breitz, Mark Borg, Robert Brody, Barton Byg, Bibi Calderaro, Luis Camnitzer, Tacita Dean, Robert Elsie, Anna Faroqhi, Ansgar Frerich, Marion Fricke, Roswitha Fricke, Jackie Goss, Andy Graydon, Eva Grudin, Selby Hickey, Andrea Jacoby, Alexandra Keller, Lissy Knauer, Sebastian Krügler, William Kentridge, Matthew Lyons, R.A. McBride, Mireille Mosler, Paula Naughton, Ema Ndoja, Giancarlo Norese, Volker Pantenburg, Max Peltzer, ˇ The Perlins, Tadej Pogacar, Laura Poitras, Simon Preston, Anne Pycha, Stefan Saffer, Stefanie Schlüter, Max Schneider, Trebor Scholz, Allegra Silbiger, Shirin Simo, Shelly Silver, Anne Stanwix, Frazer Ward, Blerta Zeqiri, Adam Zucker, Laura Zucker
colophon Jenny Perlin The Same Moon Everywhere
Izdal / Published by Zavod P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Hruševska 66 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia www.zavod-parasite.si ˇ Zanj / Represented by: Tadej Pogacar Design/Layout: Giancarlo Norese Tisk / Printed by: Tiskarna Peklaj Naklada / Number of copies: 60 Images from The Same Moon Everywhere and related photographs courtesy the artist, Galerie M+R Fricke, Berlin and Simon Preston Gallery, New York Tisk knjige umetnice je podprlo Ministrstvo za kulturo RS in MOL Oddelek za kulturo / The publishing of this artist book was supported by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia and Municipality of Ljubljana Ljubljana 2013