SÁNDOR VÁLY AND JÚLIA HEÉGER / SACRED SONGS
“I praise the dance, for it frees people from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community. I praise the dance, which demands everything: health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul. Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people, who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling. Dancing demands a whole person, one who is firmly anchored in the centre of his life, who is not obsessed by lust for people and things and the demon of isolation in his own ego. Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers. I praise the dance. O man, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
The rediscovered Hildegard Von Bingen (1098-1179) is experiencing a renaissance. Besides her thoughts and writings, there are a good number of treatments and reissues of her musical oeuvre and work. These musical recordings and releases pay tribute to Europe’s first female composer Hildegard Von Bingen, the diverse and ramifying German mystic, the naturalist abbess, whose work spread into the fields of natural science, of medicine, of poetry and of music. It’s exciting to rediscover Hildegard from the distance of a millennium and to give her voice in the present.
At the same time, a different experience and discovery led me to her and to the concept through which this musical work came about.
My work was conceived during contemplation at church when I noticed the space formed by the lack of dance, when every single art form is present in churches from painting, to sculpture, to music, to architecture, from the stained glass windows to the joinery. The church is an internal image of the human world reflected outwards by the soul. A vision in form! All this was created by artists in order to communicate with God. Art is communication, alliance, the deepest primordial expressive force of the human soul. But how could dance be overlooked?
Recognising this question, work on Sacred Songs began. It grew from a lack of dance into a complex audio-visual work, whose final goal was to reintegrate dance into sacred spaces, and to which I wanted to give a poetic, but provocative language. And so, the basic idea didn’t begin with a need for music, but with a need for dance, movement, for which I found Hildegard Von Bingen’s pieces.
Since dance is an elusive medium similar to music, we only have indirect information on the history of dance. In all likelihood, the early church praised God with dance, too, in accordance with earlier Jewish traditions. The changes started later with the spreading of pagan Christianity, and the simultaneous appearance of steadily more prevalent Neoplatonist and Gnostic teachings. The separation of body and soul was typical of both philosophies, the elevation of the spiritual world and the rejection of the body.
The main thought of Gnosticism is that salvation can be found in true – hidden and secret – knowledge: we have split from our divine genesis and forgotten about our grand origin which can only be reacquired with the help of true knowledge. At the very top is the informed, the knowledgeable, an entirely spiritual being, and at the bottom predominantly are the carnal. This is the origin of dualism, and the teachings of good and bad.
Neoplatonism’s attitude towards the duality of the world is similar: every visible thing is a weaker version, a reflection of something which already exists in the soul. Similar to a Gnostic, this philosophy deems the body, the earthly visible world to be of a lower rank. The body is linked to the fallen world, which is impure and perishes. It is the lowest, basest form of existence. (1) In the old Christian church these teachings put forth the perspective which was one of the main reasons for the rejection of dance. The other reason was dance’s connection with pagan religions. (E.g. the Cult of Dionysus.)
1.This view completely contradicts the Bible in which the God tells the earth it’s good. (Genesis 1:31)
The situation was worsened after Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan when pagan religions were “consecrated”, and pagan icons and customs to be integrated into Christian teachings were given new labels. Consequently, as with drinking, the pious fathers forbid dances from the sacrament. Things came to the point where because of the entertaining dances typically held to celebrate the first night of the holidays in 789 the church council forbid dancing in churches and churchyards.
At the same time, in old Christian liturgy dance had a role. The significance of dance is apparent, as it’s frequently addressed in the old Christian writings. Tertullian mentions that on the eve of the 2nd and 3rd centuries the hymns in the church were accompanied by dance performances, the scenes of dance in the old testament were added to the liturgy. In early Christian churches, in the space in front of the altar, dance was part of the ceremony during larger holidays (Christmas, Twelfth Night, Easter, Whitsun).
So with this work I wanted to give rise to dance, to sacred dance and to provocation. To reintroduce dance to churches. I wanted to provoke because since the birth of Christianity we have built tight spiritual restrictions around ourselves which won’t help us to communicate with God, but on the contrary, we’re separating ourselves from God, denying one of the oldest and purest forms of communication, as old as mankind, and born out of love for life.
In order to make this idea a reality, I presented an arrangement of three pieces by Hildegard Von Bingen’s “O vis eternitatis”, “O tu sauvissima virga” and “O vis eternitatis_eternity”, in a collaboration with the singer Julia Heeger, and dancing from Anna Kivinen, Tiina Sysimusta, Sanna-Maria Santos as the visual aspect of this musical material. Together, music, dance, film meld into a greater audio-visual work, of which this is the musical part.
1.the power of eternity
in the beginning before the beginning, there was nothing, whose invisible image and inaudible sound was filled by an ungraspable radiance, a monotonous vibration which was both the image and the sound of nothing, the motionless primordial movement, the unteased totality, the unemerged entirety.
this unnameable, which we can put into words only loosely, to which we’ve been fitting names seemingly suitable for one another according to our beliefs and intentions, selected from later, unemerged details, so we might talk about the unutterable, in this incomprehensible and inaccessible moment this unnameable, this unutterable decided to stir from its inertia, and began to awake, though it was never asleep
it carefully stretched its bodiless body, and voiced its monotonous vibration, as a peacock might its train. it cleared its throat, it cracked its limbs, and in its entirety inspected and experienced its own body parts, the radiable capacity over details, and found that all was well, that it would fill that space that had always been full with it
in song it burst forth, outlining in audio the Word’s creepers, the Word’s curling winds, the Word’s babbling eddies, and it shuddered the surfaces and depths of its future things and beings across the eternal present of timelessness, it stirred up waves in the slowly emerging parts. it was the beginning of the beginning, the Word of no names, the singing voice of creation which burst forth setting in motion eternal expansion
there’s no extension to the expansion, no movement to the emergence, no matter to the materialization, as there’s none to the nothing, the totality, the entirety. the creator’s power has freedom, as the nothing, too, has the freedom to be nothing and everything, and that freedom grants extension, movement and matter to the nothing, to the all, to itself
everything in reality really is everything, as we can see, hear and feel in the expansion, with our every sensory organ, with knowns and with unknowns. but our sensory organs, the knowns and the unknowns are mere parts of the whole, therefore the entirety is ungraspable, therefore selection between the parts isn’t made consciously, and the parts are recognised as a whole, and thence the whole is falsely recognised, being unrecognisable. falsely recognising the whole from the details: these are the emotions.
only a never-ending, unflinching gaze, an unblinking eye would be able to see the whole, which is, in actuality, itself. but that eye is able to inspect the entirety, the totality of those parts distinguished with the help of the emotions, so that without emotions dictating or disrupting, it can see the totality, the entirety, the everything within, which is the same as the nothing before the beginning
this eye is both eye and ear and touch and movement and unfamiliar sensation, and this eye resides in respiration and spiration. in the spiration we can experience the power of eternity across the eternal present of timelessness until nothing and everything both are and are not, now
1. oh, sweetest virgin, you
cloudburst, earthquake. the heavens groan, the solid lingers. the tremulous octopus tries its limbs, slap, splitting the space.
when the virgin’s hand caresses the length of the universe, the wild beast swoons, it loses its deadly rage. the creepers and the streams grow, they bend, they surround its feverish body that is the universe and that spasmed in a hallowed stupor. the body shows signs that though it’s under the influence of the sacred devotion, of the placid spirit, though its strength is bridled by the virgin’s languid glance, it can’t deny itself. the body reveals that it isn’t in spite of the holy tranquillity it is as it is, that it’s in its very essence. if it falls asleep, it will wake, if it wakes, it will rage, if it rages, let the virgin goddess have mercy
and as the virgin’s song, her unyielding, unflinching being gushes above all and right through all, irreversibly consuming and pervading, the unbridled cracks and rasps, clamours and carouses in the forces of the universe, the unbridled buzzes in its lungs, it belches in its heart, it bubbles in its stomach, in its intestines…
and so alongside one another nourishment and poison journey about the routes, along the roads, they whistle and whine, gallop and flutter, and so they carry on themselves, within themselves frisking, prancing, steaming, coupling – eternally splitting and fusing – infinity.
[[[ 1.) Vály’s music isn’t background music. But it isn’t foreground music either. It’s worthwhile being listened to aloud and through headphones. It’s worthwhile being listened to in an armchair, with closed, inwardly opened eyes, but wide awake. And then it will flood into, it will pass into us, and we will pass into the music, opening up us, and opening up to us. I don’t listen to the music, I allow it to enter me and it will allow me to enter it, accepting me, embracing me.
B.) If this process occurs, then I’m not listening to the music, I’m living it and I’m living the music listening to me and living me, and I come into contact with myself, because everything which is in music, is in me too, and what’s in the music and in me is in the world, and the world is in me.
iii.) Two qualities of the music’s uni-ty stir the two qualities of my-inner-world (it’s never any different), and when the two qualities are both present, that’s the moment for, the time for acceptance. The time for acceptance is the time for mercy, and, as we can always sense the time for acceptance, the time for mercy, now we feel the time has come, all of this is present, and then I, too, am present, in time, in timelessness.
-.) It isn’t painful, it isn’t joyous, it isn’t classifiable, it isn’t qualifiable. Much more than any class, than any quality, more and no more: it is. That’s all it is. That is is.
ε.) The etymology of integration: integer, integra, integrum = untouched, unblemished, unspoiled, intact, whole. Integration = IN- + TANGO (tangere, tetigi, TACTUS): touch, reach, arrive + -able, -and, -ant, -al, -ate, -ity.
The untouched and touched of tango and tactus alternate in integration. When the length of time between alternation accelerates, shortens infinitely, simultaneousness synchronicity manifests itself. When synchronicity manifests itself, the distinction between the untouched and the touched disappears.
nothing has been born (what’s born is nothing) since the world exists, everything which was always present in the nothing simply enters, emerges, materializes one after the other. creation, if it happened only once, then it happened once upon a time, this time and in this time, continuously. the nothing and its every consciousness have equal need for the body, for the material, as the body, the material has for the consciousness, so that in unity both, namely, in each of their unities, they feel: pulsate, are, exist
where does eternity’s power derive from to maintain and to set itself in motion? is the sweetest virgin the one who bears the responsibility of life and nurses life itself, or the immeasurable energy of the wild beast that gives drive to the mind’s boundless imagination and to dull material
the answer is in the question, it’s impossible to answer this question. the two parts of the power are only separable from one another, inasmuch as the magnetic north and south poles are: a unipolar magnet is an unimaginable image. and yet the force split, separated; it separated into polarities, but it’s impossible to name either as the victor because the wholeness is lost. but the whole can’t be lost, as loss, too, exists in wholeness. if we follow these to the end, it becomes clear: separation exists only in thought, hence only those that think experience its anguish
what can a thinker do, if they don’t want to be in anguish? they (re)unite in themselves, in thought what always was in unison. conjunctio oppositorum. this is the act of integration
what unites two forces? how can integration occur? the opposites can’t exclude one another, they can only come and go in one another, creating wholeness as two elements of the same quality. which could unite the two forces, the virgin and the beast
the same question, again and again, what could unite the two forces (which are one according to their nature)
the answer is short and simple
c. and f. again and again and again. Infinitely
Sacred Songs_ track 1_ O Vis Aeternitatis 20:30 min
Sacred Songs_ track 2_ O Tu Suavissima Virga 19:27 min
Sacred Songs_ track 3_ O Vis Aeternitatis_Eternity 13:10 min
Sacred Songs_ Exhibition_Palazzo Lucarini, Italy 2021
Sacred Songs_ Exhibition_Palazzo Lucarini, Italy 2021