Das Lied aus dem Grab
“Das Lied aus dem Grab” eng. “The Song from the Grave” originates from the previous durational concept of mine entitled “The Song of a Soldier on Watch (WW3 Lili Marlene) started in 2011. as a durational living installation, being performed throughout European countries and Canada, currently in the form of one man opera.
Here is the partial text written by Dobrila Denegri for the Theatre of Life exhibition, CoCA Torun, Poland 2012.
In the piece “The Song of Soldier on Watch (WW3 Lili Marlene)” he seems to incarnate both, the figure of the mythical heroine from the song as well as the figure of the soldier who wrote it. In 1915 Hans Leip, a German poet and playwright called to join the army and fight on the Eastern front during World War I, wrote lyrics for the song than entitled “The Girl Under the Lantern” which later on, especially during the World War II, became extremely popular by the name Lili Marlene. During the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia in 1941, Radio Belgrade became Soldatensender Belgrad and broadcasted programs to entertain the German armed forces. This song was played frequently and was also very popular on both sides of the front line. “Lili Marlene’’ was presumably one of the first songs of which one thought it could lead to an individual and collective resistance of the soldiers on the front.
For this single screen HD video, I have decided to visit the burial site of Marlene Dietrich at the III. Städtischer Friedhof Stubenrauchstraße cemetery in Berlin, Germany. I am seating next to the simple gravestone miraculously illuminated by the sun, surreally still, wearing a black suit and full makeup, staring at Marlene´s gravesite, singing Lili Marlene song a cappella.
This is not the song sang directly to Marlene Dietrich but rather to the personification of a soldier lying dead in the tomb, longing eternally for his love to come back, over and over again.
This is what Lili Marlene song is all about.
Directed, performed and post-produced by Branko Milisković
Support by Helen Schröder
HD single-screen video, Stereo 16:9, Duration: 5’23’’
III. Städtischer Friedhof Stubenrauchstraße, Berlin, Germany
September 19, 2017
‘‘This video is chilling, solemn, controversial, sad, a lot of different things. The sunlight illuminating the tombstone at the start feels almost like a cheap prop, but then we realize it’s accidental and it becomes magical.‘‘ David Laufer
”It is touching, sad but delightful as well.”
‘’Super. Very great! Theatrical looks like a scene from opera.’’
‘‘Gentle and sad – a man with a beautiful makeup, the song and it’s military background, your performance and the gesture of “joining” the other side, Marlene’s tomb… simple and strong.‘‘
”What we could see is somewhat decadent, romantic borderline inquiry, performed through beautiful body postures and very pleasant color of the voice. The particular grave place is definitely an extraordinary mark for reflexive and allusive, saturnine artist presence as we can see in this video. A final thought comes about symmetry since the song referrers to Lili & Marlene, a duality that is strongly underlined in the original, published in 1937, which is exactly 80 years ago.”
”Everything is inevitable in this video, sadness that comes after joy, a sun that comes after the rain, there is no escape from it all for the better or worse. Nature is an active participant in this work, birds singing, leaves trembling in the wind, colors of the plants. Accidental “audience” laughing in the background adds to the absurdity of it all while I am crying to your voice which like a sharp blade cuts me into pieces inside. Thank you, Branko.”
‘‘Recalling still-life painting, this video has a strong chromatic and metaphorical language. It makes sense to ask whether this picture is freeze-frame, the initiation of an unexpected moment to occur. In this unusual blend of poetry and metaphorical diary, we are witnessing the true spirit of the artist’s vision. The birds and the artist, meticulously synchronized in their breathing, singing about life between lives.‘‘