The Stories that Travelled

990 660 Ann Mortifee

Once they are shared, stories can travel in surprising ways and for great distances. This is the tale of how two stories told to a friend while we were sitting in the sand on the west coast of BC landed on the wall of an art gallery in Michigan.

eshalev_gerz_install_7My friend Esther Shalev-Gerz is a contemporary artist who often works with video. She was visiting the west coast from her home in Paris, France, and we were catching up on each other’s lives since our last visit. While we talked, Esther was filming, so the camera was rolling while I told two particular stories. The first story was about a woman who had attended one of my voice workshops. (A Voice in the Darkness) The other story was about the death of my husband, Paul Horn.

Little did I know that when Esther returned to Paris she would transform the telling of these two stories into two unique art pieces that she calls video diptychs. She named them Blue Pneuma and Golden Pneuma. Esther chose those names because pneuma is an ancient Greek word for breath as a vital spirit, a soul or a creative force. Her videos blend images of me telling the stories with photographs of nature. In my story about Paul’s death, eroding desert rocks are seen. In the story about a woman’s voice being lost and then found, erosion on the shores of the Salton Sea are featured. The blended imagery shows the likenesses and differences between nature and the human experience.

While she was working on the videos, Esther was preparing for a major exhibit of her work that was taking place at an art gallery in Detroit. She decided to include Blue Pneuma and Golden Pneuma in the show, and said that as people watched the videos, some wept, some were speechless, and some breathed out deep sighs. If, like me, you missed Esther’s show, you can view the videos on Esther’s website or through Vimeo.

I never imagined that the stories I told would be transformed in such a sensitive, creative way. But perhaps I am not surprised. Stories have a life of their own. They travel. The woman in my workshop told me her story. I shared it with Esther, along with my story about Paul. She then communicated the stories as her art form. Perhaps one day this story will travel on through you. You never know. Stories are like that. They trouble, inspire, teach, and touch us to see the world with greater awareness.

Ann Mortifee

Singer Ann Mortifee is a genre unto herself. Blessed with a remarkable four-octave range and a gift for impacting hearts with her music and lyrics, her albums, concerts, full-length musicals, scores (ballet, film, opera, TV), and In Love with the Mystery book have generated national/international distinctions and awards. She is an Order of Canada Member, the country’s highest civilian honour. A world traveller, compelling storyteller, and sought-after keynote speaker for major conferences, Ann creates and facilitates inspiring arts and consciousness workshops and co-founded two foundations - for social innovation and for forestry conservation. Based in BC, Ann is the wife of the late jazz flutist, Paul Horn.

All stories by: Ann Mortifee