HD video, 05’56”, 2011

Magicians is a short film featuring owls, old men, swamps and children. They all gather together in the narrative which, by using the logic of radical misreading of the urban surfaces, connects places and events that would not have met otherwise.

“How to do things with the imagination” is the question that Egle Budvytytė ponders in her latest video work Magicians. She explores ways of creating with non-verbal imagination as well as words. Indeed, Budvytytė extends the well-known speech act theory as expounded in How to do things with words by the philosopher of language John Austin into a warm plea for the power of the imagination. In her six-minute video, Budvytytė clarifies her proposition by putting the notion of “Doing things with the imagination” into practice. For the time being, she sets aside scholarly discourse on magic, mysticism, and Western esotericism, relying instead on her own personal observations.

While the camera cautiously registers everyday and staged scenes in the street, in the park, or in sports or games fields, Budvytytė provides her own poetic commentary on passers-by in a voiceover. Thus, the sight of Moroccan men in dark caftans, on their way to attend a service at the local mosque, prompts her to muse on the idea that they are imitating blackbirds, which supposedly possess magical knowledge and an ability to vanish unexpectedly into crevices. Furthermore, they have the habit of isolating themselves from their surroundings and living in trees, looking down on the world from above. Budvytytė contrasts the image of the timid blackbird to that of the night owl guarding his territory, in a loose allusion to the growing distance between different cultural and religious groups in urban areas.

In Budvytytė’s video, the power of the imagination and the registration of reality engage in poetic combat. This is reminiscent of the filmic essays of Chris Marker, with their alternating documentary images and fiction. Like Marker, Budvytytė strings together locations and motifs, documentary and fictional episodes, reality and metaphor. By using video, audio, and staged scenes, she blurs the dividing line between imagination and reality as part of her study of the way in which human beings relate to their surroundings.

Kathrin Jentjens