My grandmother loved The Sound of Music – especially the first five minutes. The opening scene of the movie features a mountainous landscape that was familiar to her, having grown up in the regional town of Celje in Slovenia. She would watch the opening scene and comment on how it reminded her of her youth and hometown, of times before the war and before her migration to Australia in the 1950s.
After my grandmother passed away at the beginning of the turn of the century, I have revisited this scene many times in an attempt see what my grandmother saw on the other side of the mountains, beyond the forest, in the river and up in the sky. As an Australian-Slovenian who has never been to Slovenia, my personal experience of my grandmother’s response to the first 5 minutes of the Sound of Music is a potent symbol of what it is like to have a connection and feel an empathy for a place that you have only experienced through the partially-told stories, actions and emotions of another.
Having no primary experience of Celje myself, my image of this village, Slovenia and my cultural heritage and present is tied to a desire to see what was lies beyond and behind those mountains, forests, river and sky. Trying to augment my view to catch a glimpse of what my grandmother was looking at but succeeding only in being able to slow down and reverse what is being presented to me. This is the basis of a new work I’m currently creating, which will be presented in January 2018. More details to come.