Johanna Billing makes videos that weave music, movement and rhythm – placing subtle emphasis on the individual within representations of changing societies.
Her looped video installations dwell on routines, rehearsals and rituals, presenting us with people in concentrated situations, where changes are taking place, are about to take place or could take place. A specific performative activity is often used as a vehicle for articulating certain struggles – personal, social and political.
Connecting the modes of performance with a strictly film-like language, Billing in parts directs the participants and in parts puts in place a series of improvisations around the notion of performance and the possibility it holds to explore and expose issues of the complicated relationship of public and private, inside and exterior. The protagonists in Billing’s videos all play themselves but take part in staged, choreographed situations that oscillate between documentary and fiction, as a multi-layered interpretation of a place.
Billing often addresses political climates and cultural specificities, but more importantly she adapts her filmmaking as a fictive space to – through a documentary method – examine actual and contrived events and how that filmed compression illuminates their overlap. The result in many of Billing’s films and documented events and, is a product of an editing process, created with meticulous care, that puts equal focus on the visual material as on the sound recordings and gives special attention to details of physical movements and gestures and the activities taking place not only around the centre of the action. Billing’s films often involve music, which in her hands (Billing used to work as a music journalist as well as being the founder of a record label “Make it happen” between 1998-2010) becomes a character on its own, a medium of exchange, memory and reconstruction.
- 11 March 2020