Clara Casian is a Romanian visual artist with interest in archives and deconstructing histories through personal and political lens. Her work combines carefully constructed archive fragments of historical significance with hybrid mixes of image, sound and text layered in a rhythmic montage.
The encounter with the history of Savoy Books expanded her interest in using archives. A Savoyard’s First Brush with Censorship looked at the context behind the publishing work of M. Butterworth and the early signs of censorship in 1970s Manchester. The film was followed by further research, and the resulting film House on the Borderland connected Butterworth’s recollections of The Savoy Wars – a twenty-five-year battle with the Manchester police, overlaid with Fay Ballard’s narrative of her father JG Ballard’s creation of an artwork. The project on alternative publishing and censorship was supported through the Artist Film scheme at HOME, Manchester, and it was developed as part of Feature Expanded, an international training programme between Manchester and Florence. House on the Borderland, was shown as part of LA MOVIDA 14th Apr – 17 Jul 2017, HOME Manchester.
Other projects include Intentional Community, a feature-length film in collaboration with visual artist Nick Jordan, with support from Arts Council England, and Sediments – Barrow Islands. In Sediments, she explores the history of Barrow in Furness and the tensions between natural and man-made environments, caused by traces of ecological processes and environmental cleanup.
Since 2016, Casian has collaborated with music composer Robin Richards on film and music projects, resulting in projected screenings of the original film with live score perfomances. Birdsong-Stories from Pripyat, which premiered as part of HOME’s Artist Film Weekender, uses video archives, records of testimonies from liquidators, and echoes of the disaster, to develop an aesthetic practice that responds to the tensions between industrial and man-made. The steps taken in completing the project involved a series of film sessions in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, more specifically, Pripyat town, which was left deserted after the evacuation. Birdsong – Stories from Pripyat is accompanied by The Earth Asleep, which responds to the tragedy of the 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima disaster.
Production still in Pripyat, during the making of Birdsong – Stories from Pripyat