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I'm Gonna Live Anyhow Until I Die
Johanna Billing

Set to a whistling violin soundtrack of improvisations inspired by the 1970s experimental musician Franco Battiato, Billing’s video follows a group of Italian children wandering the streets of Rome, seemingly free to do what they like, having left their parents behind at Al Biondo Tevere (the restaurant where Pier Paolo Pasolini had his last meal before he died).

After running through the park of the Roman Aqueduct, a courtyard in the 1930s working class district of Testaccio and Ostia’s Seadrome, the children finally arrive in an empty school in the centre of Rome, where time appears to have ceased. In a classroom that has been turned into storage, they start to play with troves of outdated educational tools and equipment in an attempt to understand what to do with them. Little by little, each child begins to compose black blots on sheets of drawing paper folded in half, creating blots that resemble those of the Rorschach test.

Influenced by her time in Rome during the protests against university reforms in 2010, Billing’s work queries the future of the younger generation and the undermining of the education system by the harmful politics of populism. Elsewhere, the work alludes to psychoanalysis, to Pasolini and his thoughts on Italy’s social and cultural changes. Billing’s film mines Italian history of progressive pedagogy, conducted by leading figures such as Bruno Munari with his tactile workshops for kids. The work foregrounds the early tradition of Italian filmmakers who, in their biographical films about the 1940s and 1950s, captured the freedom of children exploring their city as a way to reflect upon historical and societal changes.

Keywords School
Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Prod. format
Duration 00:16:29
Language Italian
Color Color
Sound Stereo
Year 2021
In text Johanna Billing
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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.