Magical World is a result of collaboration with a group of children from a free after-school music club based at a run down 1980s cultural centre in Dubrava, a suburb of Zagreb, Croatia. The focus of the work is a group of children rehearsing ?Magical Worldg, chosen by Billing and written by the black American singer Sidney Barnes (1968), who was part of the group Rotary Connection. Magical World captures the momentous shift between old and new economic and ideological systems. A personal transition is expressed by the song that could also be said to allude to the fast-paced development taking place in a relatively young country facing European Union demands for future integration into the group of member states. This is further articulated as the children struggle to handle the arrival of the international use of English, and as such follows the meaning of the lyrics. The song is at times both melancholic and existential and is conceivably at odds with their tender age. The rehearsal is interwoven with life outside, leading up to an intimate performance by the children in their music class.
Cinematographer: Manne Lindwall, Musical Arrangements: Petra Jezutkovic, Original Song by Sidney Barnes 1968 (Chevis Music publishing Corp, BMI), Co-produced by WHW/Rooseum, Production Assistant: Sonja Boric
The Swedish artist Johanna Billing’s video works deal with the performative side of rituals, routines and rehearsals always in a loop to generate a certain sentiment. Billling has produced works in many different countries and contexts. In 2004–2005 she produced Magical World in Zagreb, where she was invited by the curator collective WHW (What, How and for Whom?). Billing is co-founder of the record company Make it Happen in Sweden.
Johanna Billing, SE 2005, 6:12 min, loop
Courtesy of Johanna Billing and Hollybush Gardens, London