Boris Nieslony: "Ma" (2003)

Ma (2003)
Performance: Boris Nieslony
Director: Gerald Harringer

In the autumn of 2002 and spring 2003 Gerald Harringer shoots the experimental short film Ma with the German performance artist Boris Nieslony. It is about a hiking tour from the Czech-Austrian border to Hallstatt. The film interweaves scenes of the journey with impressively minimalist performances and dreams by Boris Nieslony.

The film centres on a man, who sets off on a very lonely journey. His path takes him from a deserted village on the former death strip between the Czech Republic and Austria into the mountains. The last part of his hiking tour starts on the expanses of the high plateau on the Dachstein, his journey ends in Hallstatt. As in the Australian aborigines’ paths, which are mapped in the form of songs (“Songlines”) there are dreams showing the way to the nameless protagonist and leading him to impressively symbolic acts and rituals. This border area between dream and reality is also denoted by the film title Ma, being the Japanese word for “gap”.

The hiker’s inner world is also accessed by dreams Boris Nieslony has recorded. In Ma the Viennese actor Otto David lends them his voice. As a background to the images, the subtly impressive and electronically shaped film music by the Linzer composer Thomas Reinhart emphasizes the concentrated contemplative atmosphere of the film.

Ma is awarded with the prize for the best short film at the Austrian film festival Diagonale 2004.

Screenplay: Gerald Harringer, Boris Nieslony
Director: Gerald Harringer
Actor: Boris Nieslony
Directors of photography: Michael Ruhsam & Dieter Strauch
Montage: Dieter Strauch & Gerald Harringer
Music: Thomas Reinhart
Narrator: Otto David
Assistant Director: Helena Balaouras
Production: Die Fabrikanten

Some stills frames from the film "Ma"

Boris Nieslony: Dreams (from: MA)

"A long long time ago, I dreamed of a field, a large field, outside a city. I see the dream again very clearly before me: gray, cement-colored balls are coming from the sky. They float down towards the earth and the closer they come, the bigger they get. On the outside they have no incisions, openings, doors or anything, like spaceships, and it occurs to me that they are like Leibniz' monads, completely closed hermetically in themselves, like some kind of primal things. They land on the earth and lots of people come and stand around them, and then doors open and figures come out on the steps. They look like gummi-bears, just as colorful, they are just those same colors. I find it exciting, I just watch curiously, and all at once there is this uncanny feeling, as though the crowd is suddenly afraid. And so it is. Suddenly they are afraid and that turns into aggressiveness, and then the first people start picking up stones and I scream: No, no, don't do anything, that's completely normal, no ..... But then people start throwing stones and I say: Well, if that's how it is, then you need to get out of here. And then I ran away."

"I dreamed I was sitting in a car and all around me were many people I knew from Cologne. We drove along a street and I looked out the window with interest. On the right side I saw houses, bleak and gray. A very long stretch of a block of houses. On the left I saw mountains and people like those in Tibet, living their everyday life and doing ordinary things. Some of them live in houses that are built into and by the mountain. I keep looking right, then left and back again. From the front seat, someone turns around and says to me that I should finally stop deceiving myself."

"In my dream I wander along the Italian coast near Genoa and come to a cliff, look down and see a large bay that can only be entered from the sea. All my attempts to climb down the cliff fail. I go to the south side to the sea, and suddenly I see lots of strange animals in the bay. I manage to climb into the bay over rocks reaching far out into the sea, and then I see a hut that has no door and no windows, but openings instead. The hut is painted light blue on the outside.
I notice that it is already late in the evening and I can no longer return. I decide to spend the night in the hut. Then I wake up, because the water is swirling around me and I know now that I will drown. I experience this quite calmly, though, and I drown calmly, too."

"Yesterday I dreamed of a meadow, where a black crow was being hacked to death by four white crows. Then I am standing around with a group of people, who start moving slowly. I don't know the people. I keep trying to ask something, but get no answer. The people start turning and moving in one direction. I follow them and we come to the lattice gate of a wicker fence. The people go through it, some of them have lambs on their shoulders. They are all shepherds. But they won't let me through. I stand at the gate and ask again if I can go through. One turns around, comes back and says: The triangular partition isn't like that. You have to do it that way, but intuitively pay attention to something else. The word and the partition is not the right thing. Then the people disappear."

"In my dream I am standing at a train station in the country. I wander around the ticket hall and notice a number of flyers with pictures of angels. I start collecting them all, although I am afraid I might be doing something wrong, go to the platform and see a train coming. I see that it is a train going in the other direction. I go behind the station building to a newspaper kiosk. There I see a man reading an Arabic newspaper. I look into it briefly and see a large picture of an angel there, too. I ask the man if it is a newspaper from today. He says yes and I go into the kiosk to buy the newspaper, which I leave in the station building again later. Waiting for the train, I say to myself out loud: But I mustn't forget my angel."

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