Lamenting is an age-old oral tradition that combines singing and weeping. All over the world, women traditionally sang – and still sing – these songs at transitional moments in life such as funerals and weddings, upon the departure of a loved one going off to war, or simply to commiserate about the hardships of life. The lament ritual is used to express sorrow and grief, to heal hurts and traumas, and to bridge the past with the present in order to forge ahead into the future.

Lament, Song for Transitions was made after a workshop organized by the artist during her stay at Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland, in 2010, for which the lament singer Pirkko Fihlman was invited to teach the nearly forgotten Karelian ancient techniques of lamenting.

Incorporated in the video is footage of a re-enactment that became Finland’s first ethnological film: Häidenvietto Karjalan runomailla (A Wedding in the Karelian Songlands), 1921 by A. O. Väisänen and U. T. Sirelius. Part of the workshop took place at the Karelian Pentinotsa house in the open-air museum Seurasaari, Helsinki. In the video, various types of video transitions, like cut, fade, wipe, mix, dissolve, and crossfade, are used to move from one shot to another. However, rather than creating a smooth linear story, these transitions become an important element in the video, bringing focus onto the spaces or moments in between different situations and locations.

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Lament, Song for Transitions
Mathilde ter Heijne
2014
10/40+10
1 channel video, color video, stereo audio
1440px x 1080px, 6'36"