~ dainas ~

Balta puķe / The white flower: Latvian folk-poetry

This winner of the 2017 Maldito Festival de Videopoesía, by Spanish artist, filmmaker and videopoet Hernán Talavera, deploys an unspecified quantity of short, anonymous folk poems to great effect.

Dainas are small lyric poems coming from the oral tradition that constitute one of the most important and ancient treasures of Latvia. In 2001, dainas were declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. “Balta puķe” (“The white flower”) is a dialogue between some of these dainas and images recorded in Latvia in the winter of 2015. This dialogue revolves around the concept of “memento mori” -remember that you have to die- that reminds us the inexorability of Death.

Latvian language along with Lithuanian, are considered the most archaic Indo-European languages of those which are spoken today.

webpage (click through for the list of screenings)

Talavera is one of the filmmakers included in Versogramas, a 2017 documentary about videopoetry, in which he said that places are the main characters in his videopoems; he sees them as “little universes.” “Solitude and emptiness are not negative concepts” for him, but provide relief from the suffering caused by our endless quest for stimulation. He added that he frequently removes sound or color from his videos in a “compromise with austerity,” pointing out that “when you close your eyes you may begin to hear better.” One can certainly see this in Balta puķe.

There’s also a version with Spanish subtitles: La flor blanca.