Opening with a series of limpid dream like sequences in which the sea emerges from an Aldeburgh dawn, our view sweeps slowly across an estuary of invisible silt as we follow the course, upriver towards Snape, pursuing the narrowing stream all the way back to its source; the route echoing the direction of Benjamin Britten's regular escape from the noise of his Aldeburgh residence, The Red House, where he was frequently disturbed by overflying USAF planes, to his place of sanctuary, Chapel House in Horham. Going against the current of the river's inexorable passage to the sea, the journey meditative, lyrical and spiritual; retraces an
equally primal search for silence.
The life of the English composer, whose work was profoundly connected to the Suffolk region, hovers
behind Alexander and Susan Maris's haunting video work âSilentium' (2007), which takes its title from
a piece of music by one of Britten's greatest admirers, Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, for whom silence is akin
to something sacred, and represents the promise of a new beginning. Pärt's composition Tabula Rasa (1977),
meaning âblank slate', and in particular its second movement, Silentium whose qualities have been
described in terms of gently swirling mists through which patterns emerge provides the inspiration
for the temporal structure of the video.
As a recurring feature of an artistic collaboration that has continued over more than fifteen years, Alexander
and Susan Maris have often explored the relationship between myth and landscape; choosing to focus
on geographical sites which reverberate with cultural and environmental concerns, or a specific artistic event
which took place there.
Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella. Funded by Arts Council England.
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