Collection / Works / Old Haunt by Uriel Orlow

HD video, Switzerland, United Kingdom, 2009
14 minutes 42 seconds Colour, 16:9, Stereo
Available formats: , BluRay, HD Digital file

Available for hire / Hire this work

Around a table an ensemble of five speakers re-visit - in the Swiss German dialect and accompanied by wine and cigarettes - their memories of the famous Café Odeon in Zürich: a contemporary, not yet crumbled ruin in whose still intact art-nouveau interior lie former utopias, stories and characters.

The video Old Haunt re-imagines this event as a polyphony of names, dates and anecdotes performed by a choir of soliloquists who move through harmony and dissonance. Joined by members of the audience, the a capella quintet delves into the past but performs in the present.

In English, the idiom 'old haunt' refers to a place frequently visited in the past. This expression, which resists literal translation, conjures the image of the ghost. Ghosts of the living and dead alike, of both individual and collective spirits haunt places. In a word, places are personed and ghosts help constitute their very real, yet intangible historicity: namely their living memory.

Memory, insofar as it is affective and magical, only accommodates those facts that suit it; it nourishes recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, personal or political, global, local or detached, particular or allegorical. Memory is subject to both (self-) censorship and projection.