Federico Vladimir Strate Pezdirc and Pablo Esbert Lilienfeld, Songs of Hain, 2017. Still from film.
9 September 2017
Songs of Hain is an expanded documentary about the Selknam people, one of the native communities from Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego (the largest island in the southern tip of Chile and Argentina) who were almost made extinct by the European settlers in the early 20th century.
The Selknam did not use a writing system and were not image-makers but their rituals, dances, and chants had a complex and rich performativity. Their main cultural manifestation was the Hain ceremony in which men dressed up as spirits to perform the Selknam cosmogony for an audience of women and children who – not knowing that the spirits were men in disguise – experienced the performances with fear. Through the Hain ceremony masculine power was legitimized and the patriarchal social organization of the Selknam people safeguarded.
Songs of Hain is a re-enactment of the Hain ceremony. Through research with archaeologists, Selknam descendants, and feminist activists, choreographer and musician Pablo Esbert and filmmaker Federico Strate have reinterpreted different passages of the ceremony. In collaboration with a choir and a group of folkloric dancers of diverse origins, the artists have adapted costumes, makeup, masks, chants, gestures, and dances.
PS/Y’s Hysteria is a combined arts programme that explores health and illness in contemporary society, focusing on issues of gender, race and cultural identity. Hysteria is curated by Mette Kjærgaard Præst and takes place in partnership with organisations and institutions across London from August 2017 – April 2018.