_Heis [greek εἷς]: One. To be one. To be complete, unified in oneself.
This project traces the journey of one human being towards self fulfilment.
It’s a daily struggle played out by the mind, body and heart.
. . .
French Indie director Anais Volpé’s latest work is difficult to place within a technical paradigm. _Heis spans over three separate sub-projects: a feature film, a collection of web-series, and a mixed-media art installation that re-contextualizes the audiovisual material within a gallery setting. Inter-related but distinct, the trio unfolds like a pandora’s box of memories. Sounds, visual impressions, loops, snippets, monologues, sensations- all evoked in stream of consciousness and artfully woven into a delicate, emotionally charged narrative. The sensory experience of _heis brings to mind a house of mirrors, in which each frame introduces a new contextual perspective; adding depth and layers of empathetic qualities to that which has come before.
_Heis was self produced, shot between France, China and the USA, and took two years to complete from incubation to its final journey to the halls and screens of the international film circuits. Volpé describes her ambitious DIY transmedia project as “a junction between fiction, fictional documentary, experimental essay, pictures recycling, writing, voice-over, editing, sound design and the use of severals recording devices (digital cameras, film camera, smartphone, etc…)” During the editing process her methodology took inspiration from collage and oil painting- fragments were juxtaposed, moved around, placed side by side and layered on top of each other to create new meaning.
Taking a phenomenological twist on cinematic storytelling, Volpés project invites the viewer not merely to observe a progression of events, but to sense, feel, and experience a narrative more intuitively through the hearts and souls of the protagonists. Memories unravel the way one might replay them in a dream- embedded in a muffled fog of nostalgia, or sharp and painful, tinted in the vivid hues of recollection. The film envelops you in a multi-sensory experience where sound and image interact playfully, steering the focus into terrains that are at times harmonious and at times jarringly dissonant.
As grounds behind the experimental nature of her project, Anais Volpe points to the protean potential of the audiovisual content. “I wanted to push the limits of the materials, to obtain three different but complementary readings. You can watch [the components] separately, and in the order you want. That’s the goal of the project.”
_heis (chroniques) – A feature film.
_heis Chroniques navigates the tensions between togetherness and self; the classic coming-of-age ritual of the family dynamic as young adults transition (or resist transition) into full-fledged independence. Love creates conflicting pressures between kin: as the family struggles to reconcile the responsibilities of interdependence with their personal needs for freedom, growth, and individuality.
“Between love and anger, emancipation and guilt, HEIS is a blood and a life story : a family tale.
-Heis is the mothers’ worrying, the daughters’ desire, the sons’ resignation or maybe the opposite. It’s the salt and the sugar of the brotherhood. The bitterness of intolerance, the sweetness of understanding.”
_heis is set in two speeds and two languages, to highlight the intergenerational dichotomy between youth and parents. Yet the thematical complexity runs throughout the film, providing a common thread between the chronological period, country, or language of each individual frame.
The feature film will be released in Paris and Berlin, after screenings in independent film festivals.
_heis (pile ou face) – A web series.
_heis Pile ou Face (Heads or Tails) is a web-series about life contrasts and choices. The series delves into the struggles of youth: the difficult questions around love and abandonment, togetherness and solitude, dreams and resignations, family and emancipation, job prospects and the lack thereof.
Where do all the decisions we make ultimately lead us ? How will all the things we’ve been exposed to finally come together?
_heis (pile ou face) is composed of 5 eleven-minutes episodes, which can be viewed independently as short-films or together as a series. The episodes will be released throughout 2016, as well as being aired in a handful of festivals including International Film Festival of Coté-Court, NYC Web Fest, International Film Festival of Reykjavik, Chicago Blow-Up Arthouse Film Festival, Angers Film Festival and Festival Les Pépites du Cinéma.
_heis (on the wall) – An art exhibition.
Where are we coming from ? Where are we going ? Do we remember the last time our mother held us in her arms?
_heis (on the wall) is an art installation which blends fine/visual art and digital media. It examines the despair of a generation that waves high hopes against tough times.
“(_heis On the Wall) deals with the nostalgia for a period we will never know. Kids from the 90’s, adults of the 2010’s. Kids’ memories against minimum wage, or the opposite, I don’t know anymore.”
Volpé’s mixed media installation brings together digital art, audio and visual material in connection with the feature film and the web series. It revisits its central theme in a multitude of ways: captioned photographs, objects and symbolic props from the film set such as old VHS tapes, telephones, QR codes, modems, collages, digital tablet with snippets of video on loop, audio material and sound effects such as headphones through which the viewer can listen to music and voiceovers blaring from an old radio.
The art installation is scalable depending of the location and the space available. It mutates from exhibition to exhibition, details being added, changed and taken away- though the conceptual core stays the same throughout.
The central theme of the installation is the fear and uncertainty of youth. The fear of rising political tension in the world. The fear of being the first generation unable to provide for their own children. These anxieties are brought to life in a news loop, for example- You close your eyes and listen to it through your headset, in a corner of the gallery. “Youth, Parents. Family, Guilt. You listen to the mother’s voice, the tremors in her expression. Should we fulfil our familial duties, or free ourself from her? Notion de quête de rêves, de sang, de vie. Collages and VHS. Past, present, future. Patch things up, try be one.”
_heis On the Wall has previously been shown in 3 art spaces: an art gallery in Auxerre, a coffee-shop gallery in Paris, and as part of a street art exhibition in New York. It is currently running in a canteen art gallery through to March 2016, and is scheduled to exhibition in Berlin and London in the coming months.