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Video description

The Brilliant and the Dark film mimics the methodology of the music video as a site of pre-recorded playback and live lip synch, and appropriates the tactics of the promotional music video. The film re-animates a 1969 performance by re-staging moments documented in photographs of the event held in the Women's Library collection - from backstage preparations to choreographed movements from the live performance. The performers (all-female alternative choir Gaggle) are seen in new costumes referencing the originals and amidst remade props. The archive re-enactment takes place in The Women's Library, the space which functions to protect the material that informed the resulting work and provides the location for the video shoot. The video takes as a starting point The Brilliant and the Dark, a cantata for women’s voices composed by Malcolm Williamson and Ursula Vaughan Williams, and first performed by 1,000 women volunteers at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. The libretto approaches history from the Middle Ages to WWII through the eyes of women, via characters including witch-hunters, embroiderers, crusaders’ wives, plague stricken women, mourners and war workers.

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