1001 Lights is conceived of as a large-scale video installation to reflect the intimate and life affirming quality of the Sabbath candle-lighting ceremony. One hundred participants from across Montréal’s varied Jewish community have been filmed sharing their practice. Brought together, these moments testify to the cultural and spiritual force of the candle-lighting experience. The installation evokes a fluid and impressionistic mosaic of shared spiritual experience that draws and builds on the practitioner’s hand gestures and presence, an individual’s ritualized movement and tradition.
1001 Lights reveals a myriad of flames from lit candles appearing on multiple screens, interlayed with hypnotic and repetitive hand movements passing through the ritual of the Shabbat candle-lighting ceremony. The spectator will be immersed in the serenity and awe of the majestic light of the candles and the gentle and purposeful movements of the hands. In such an installation, the viewer is invited into an ambiance of contemplation, a place and time where the outside world momentarily takes a pause, giving time to reflect with these traces of humanity.
Under the guidance of choreographer Ami Shulman, a group of dancers and artists (Carol Prieur, Nancy Prieur, Linda Rabin, and Elizabeth Emberly) developed a choreographic hand dance based upon these candle-lighting traditions. The women’s age range spans generations – they are in their 30’s, 40’s, 60’s, and 70’s. These intimately filmed sequences serve as a central element within the installation.
The sound design for 1001 Lights is subdued and discrete, creating an atmosphere of harmony and texture that is mysterious and enigmatic, enriched in a surround sound environment.
15 min (continuous loop)
Directed: Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer
Choreographer: Ami Shulman
Cinematographer: Michael Wees
Editor: Jules de Niverville
Sound design: Luc Papineau
Produced by Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer
Kind financial support provided by the Canada Council for the Arts (Dance on Screen Production Fund), and the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA) Professional Development Fund.