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Magical World
Johanna Billing

Magical World takes place over a summer’s day in 2005 at an after-school community centre in Dubrava, a suburb of Zagreb. A group of children and musicians recite a cover of the song ‘Magical World’ (written by Sidney Barnes), originally produced by the American psychedelic soul band Rotary Connection. Active during the social upheavals and the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the work of Rotary Connection reflected a desire for change without articulating an explicit politics. The film juxtaposes the historical context of this song with the prospect of a new generation growing up in a relatively young country, faced with the daunting demands of a capitalist future as a new member state within Europe. The children, who are all born after the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, deliver both a haunting and hopeful rendition of the song with reservation and pride. A young Croatian boy sings the first verses, enigmatic and defiant tone: ‘Why do you want to wake me from such a beautiful dream? Can’t you see that I am sleeping? We live in a Magical World…’. The recording shifts on occasion from the interior setting of the music rehearsal to exterior views of its surroundings, where Billing captures the time-worn location of the cultural centre, constructed in the 1980s yet left incomplete. This architectural environment mirrors a community still recovering from the break-up of former Yugoslavia. 

Keywords Music, Choir
Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (4:3 Letterbox)
Prod. format Generic SD-video
Duration 00:06:12
Language English
Color Color
Year 2005
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About the artist

Johanna Billing

Jönköping, Sweden, 1973; lives and works in Stockholm

Johanna Billing has been making video works since 1999 that weave together music, movement and rhythm. Merging the production modes of collective live events and workshops with a cinematic language, the films often focus on aspects of learning and how time plays a key role in that process. Billing in part directs the participants and in part activates a series of improvisations around the notion of performance and the possibility it holds to explore issues of the public and the private as well as the individual in the society as a whole. Billing often addresses political climates and cultural specificities. She transforms through a documentary method, her filmmaking in a fictive space to examine actual and contrived events and how that filmed compression illuminates their overlap. Billing’s videos often feature modified scores and music composed by the artist or in close dialogue with participants, using sound as an essential device for collaboration and communication.