Andrei’s Maria is an artistic film essay about Andrei Tarkovsky’s Swedish produced film The Sacrifice, shot in Närsholmen, Gotland in 1986. In Andrei’s Maria, the Icelandic actress Guðrún Gísladóttir returns to Närsholmen thirty years after the recording of Tarkovsky’s film. With her is her daughter Vera Illugadóttir, with whom she shares recollections of the production. It is an interpretation and an homage to the character Maria, a witch destined to save the world from nuclear disaster. The film explores Tarkovsky’s critique of civilization while simultaneously telling the behind-the-scenes story from the unique perspective of Gísladóttir.
The new material is interwoven with the original film through the technique of montage. Existential questions, paired with the progression of time and space, are at the centre of the narrative, which is driven forward by memories of the film’s production. The mother-daughter relationship and the complexities of social heritage are other central themes of the non-linear, unpaved story that aim to describe how all of us, through time, are part of a collective movement forward; it explores the circular motion of time, like the ebb and flow of waves crashing into shore.
The story line develops around Närsholmen, the peninsula in Gotland where the film was shot in the 80’s, which invokes contemporary issues of the steady rearmament of Gotland and the looming threat of a global nuclear weapons war. The exile situation that Tarkovsky found himself in at the time serves to remind us of the Cold War; both through the reflections of Gísladóttir and her choice to distribute the film in support of the anti-nuclear arms movement, and through Tarkovsky’s call on world leaders, such as Olof Palme, to help solve the precarious situation his Russian family found themselves in.
The film delves deep into the esoteric knowledge of Tarkovsky and his interest in the interpretation of dreams, which offers a clear break from the standard methods of rational film production. The montage script draws on archival material and conversations I had with the women involved in Tarkovsky’s production, whose experiences, I found, were crucial to emphasize.
The original idea was to create a film that would reflect the local community’s experience of the recording of the film, which in addition to making its mark on the populations’ memory has also significantly shaped the identity of the place. I wanted to contribute another form of homage, one that operates on different, constantly shifting layers, while also serving as a complementary tool for further interpretation and understanding of The Sacrifice.
– Ingela Johansson
The film is produced with support from BAC.
Technical assistance and collaboration-production: Camilla Topuntoli
Sound, Patrik Johansson: Per-Henrik Mäenpää
Text editing: Frida Sandström
Ingela Johansson is a Stockholm based artist, whose research-based artistic practice often responds to site-specific issues with an interest in social history and collective memory. Her interdisciplinary approach combines various aesthetic strategies and media to create an engaging body of work. In 2016 Johansson received The Visual Arts Fund’s 2 years working grant, Swedish Arts Grants Committee, and has previously exhibited at Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden and Alternativa, Gdańsk, Poland, 2016.
This exhibition is part of Kunsthall Trondheim’s contribution to the project The Question of Will.