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THE HIGH PRIESTESS @ Chicago Ideas, November 2017

ARGENTUM

ARGENTUM is a performance piece devised and directed by Laura Biagi, and inspired by the Major Arcana.

1. THE MAGUS

This video, recorded and edited by Wade Iverson, was created on April 8, 2017, in Forest Park, Chicago, Illinois. The number one card of the Tarot, The Magus, was the source of inspiration for this video. The Magician, in the esoteric alchemical context, is the person who is able to travel between personal and universal consciousness, and to constantly witness the Truth contained in the saying “As above, so below.” The number One contains the quality of initiation, beginning, individualism, martial strength, new forms, and manifestation. The Magus is able to bring together silence and sound, work and play, burden and lightness. The soundtrack for this video, Al-Khem, is an original piece by Laura Biagi, mixed by Wade Iverson.

2. HIGH PRIESTESS

The High Priestess is inspired by card n. 2 of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. This piece revolves around language: the power of uttering words, how they create reality, and how they can destroy it. It is a meditation on four alphabets: Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew and Latin. The piece has a pre-recorded soundscape in which I utter all the letters of those alphabets. That is the High Priestess card, the power to give social meaning to sounds. Use this piece as a listening meditation: listen and breathe, and allow your thoughts to disappear into the building blocks of language, pure sound, pure breath…

Concept, Performance, Vocals – Laura Biagi (laurabiagi.com)

Sound Design – Victoria Deiorio (victoria-sound-design.com)

Video Production and Editing – Melisa Breiner-Sanders (BreinerSandersProductions.com)

 

3. THE EMPRESS

This video is based on a poem that I wrote a few years ago about funerary rituals I used to do as a child on the coast of the island of Sardinia. I would find dead insects and give them a full burial ceremony. It was a ritual play that I did by myself, immersed in the sensual surroundings of a wild beach. “Salty water inside and outside” refers to the correspondence between the sea and my own tears.
[Translation:
As a child I sang a chant that I would weave for hours
My hands, small and strong, built funerary structures for spiders, bees, and ants
In hot afternoons of the Smeralda Coast, the flavor os salt spiced my singing with imaginary and yet ancient tongues
From down below, the sky became the earth and plants birds
I let plants take me to openings where I sat and prepared the cemetery
One for each insect
Always the same and always different
Crosses were made of small sticks
Nature helped me find stones and flowers
I have seen my ancestors
Their round dance suspended over my head
Women dressed in black, their hair pinned to the back of their head
Today, like yesterday, I hear their voice…
… Onions, garlic, fennel
Salty water inside and outside
Cow shit and tomatoes
Salty water inside and outside
Spiders’ nests, bees and red bites
Salty water inside and outside
Green snake are you dying or what?
Salty water inside and outside
Salty water inside and outside
Salty water inside and outside]

20. JUDGMENT

The Major Arcana n. 20, Judgment, is a symbol of resurrection. Traditionally, it is the time when the Soul, after leaving the body, has to face a test. Depending on the tradition, the Soul will be punished or saved (Last Judgment), become enlightened or reincarnated (travels through the Duat, Bardo and across Loka).
In this autobiographical project, judgment is staged on the earthly plane, in the daily dance of Life and Death, and the adjustment that our personality has to make as we interact with each other, and the environment. Knowingly or not, we choose how perform ourselves moment by moment, based on experiences and expectations. The ways we judge and assess ourselves and others weaves the tapestry of our perceptions. Our attitude, our choices, will determine the judgment of our Soul. If Lady Death came to me now, would my Heart be light enough?
I recorded the videos in Pilsen, Chicago, in May 2017, during the festival Mole de Mayo. I was not able to ask permission to the people I portray. If you see yourself in this video and want me to take the frame down, let me know. My contact is at the end of the video. The soundtrack is based on my own vocalization and on a church bell. Guest appearance by vocalist Sarah Rodeo. Thanks to Isai Zarco for the generous hospitality on the day of the festival.

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