Song #1  (2015-2019)
Song #2 (2017-2019)
Song #3 (2019-2020)
multi-channel installation with stereo sound

photo: ©Dagmar Morath

September 25 to Dec 18 2022 at the Carleton University Art Gallery.

never before our time have so many people been uprooted.  Emigration, forced or chosen, across national frontiers or from village to metropolis, is the quintessential experience of our time.
—John Berger (And Our Faces My Heart, Brief as Photos 1984)

THREE SONGS is a series of multi-channel, spatial video installations, in which Laura Taler grapples with questions raised by experiences of migration.  Appearing as her döppleganger, Taler sings three songs:  A Romanian song in a German forest, an Argentinean tango at her late Grandmother’s house in Romania, and in Berlin’s historic Theatre Im Delphi and Gipsformerei — one of the world’s largest plaster cast replica workshops — a Yiddish song titled “Romania Romania”.

Catalyzed by her past and by the current refugee crisis, THREE SONGS explores questions of what it is to be “foreign”, and of language, untranslatability, loss, mourning and the reshaping of identity. How does one make a home in a different place, come to terms with what has been left behind, and imagine and create new futures?

In Song #1: Uite asa as vrea sa mor (This is how I’d like to die), she sings a Romanian song to the trees, ferns and birds in a German forest. Sung in her mother tongue with relish and mischief, Taler perform this drinking and dying song accompanied by a series of gestures and finger snaps — the mark of quiet applause and approval. If snapping could speak it might say, “Yes! I feel your pain”. Besides, you can’t clap and hold a drink at the same time.

In Song #2: El Adios (The Goodbye) she sings an Argentinean tango at her late Grandmother’s house in Romania. In this work, Taler tackles what Chris Kraus describes as emotion “pursued as discipline, as form” by addressing the separation from her homeland in the language she choose to learn as an adult. The actions in the video are comprised of a series of practical tasks, from folding linens to practicing dance steps. An atmosphere of stillness and repetition envelops the work and gestures towards the labour of mourning, an activity that must happen with and in front of other people.

In Song #3, Taler performs Romania Romania, a Yiddish song that speaks of a bygone era full of food, wine, and celebration. The work is shot inside Berlin’s Gipsformerei, the world’s largest plaster cast replica workshop, where sculptures are remade though molds and plaster, and at the Theater Im Delphi, one of the best remaining examples of a silent film theatre. The song harks back to what was once considered the golden age of Romania when, between the two world wars, Jewish and Romanian culture blossomed, despite continued discrimination. Although the song is about a specific place, the name Romania and the specific foods could easily be replaced by places more recently destroyed by wars. These wars, fought in the name of nationalism, propriety and vengeance, leave people’s homes and lives destroyed and displace them into the absurd. A song of joy becomes a song of mourning.

THREE SONGS is exhibited as three, multi-channel video installations that play on continuous loops.   English and French translations of each song’s lyrics scroll on three monitors.

THREE SONGS | credits

Song #1 2015-2019
HD video with stereo sound                   
2 continuous loops, 8m 45s

director | choreographer |performer        Laura Taler
camera                                                              Maria Ångerman
production assistants                                  Dagie Brundert
                                                                            Heather MacCrimmon
                                                                            Dagmar Morath
edit                                                                     Laura Taler
sound mix                                                         Jordy Bell
colour correction                                           Melanie Fordham

Uite asa as vrea sa mor                           
Music by                                                           Elly Roman
Lyrics by                                                           Nicu Kanner

Filmed in July 2015 on location in Germany at the Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft (Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park).

Song #22017-2019
HD video with stereo sound                   
5 continuous loops, 21m 24s

director|choreographer|performer                Laura Taler
camera                                                                   Vlad Carp
sound                                                                      Andrei Botnaru
second camera|drone                                        George Păvăloaia
makeup|production assistant                         Carmen Adriana Stavarache
edit                                                                          Neven Lochhead and Laura Taler
sound mix                                                             Jordy Bell
colour correction                                                Melanie Fordham
sound recording                                                  David Bignell
singing coaches                                                  Kellylee Evans, Amanda Mabro,
                                                                                 Megan Jerome
Argentinean Spanish consultant                   Carlos Boeri

El Adios                                            
Music by                                                                 Maruja Pacheco Huergo       
Lyrics by                                                                 Virgilio San Clemente
Filmed in October 2017 on location in Rebricea, Romania, in the house where the artist’s grandmother lived.

Song #3 2019-2020
HD video with stereo sound                   
3 continuous loops, 21m 37s

director | choreographer |performer            Laura Taler
camera                                                                  Marcus Elliott
sound                                                                     Joscha Eickel
camera assistant | second camera               Kleber Nascimento
grip | gaffer |second camera                           Lucas Heinze
theatre technician                                              Tilman Agüeras Gäng
makeup | hair                                                       Caterina Veronesi
costume design                                                   Tracey Glas
wardrobe                                                                Heather MacCrimmon
production manager                                           Angela Stiegler
assistant director                                                Emma Howes
stills photography                                               Dagmar Morath
edit                                                                           Kim Frank and Laura Taler
sound design                                                         Phil Strong
trumpet                                                                   David Buchbinder
sound mix                                                               Jordy Bell
colour correction                                                  Melanie Fordham
sound recording                                                    Jeremy Darby, Canterbury Music Company
singing coach                                                         Fides Krucker
Yiddish consultants                                              Floralove Katz, Lorin Sklamberg
sculpture creation                                                 Rosemary Breault-Landry,
                                                                                    David McDougall, Deborah Margo,
                                                                                    John Ancheta, Erin Armstrong

Romania, Romania                                  
Music & Lyrics                                                        Aaron Lebedeff

Filmed in October 2019 on location in Berlin at the Gipsformerei and the Theater im Delphi.

This body of work was created with significant support from all the collaborators.

Thank you to: Miguel Helfrisch and the team at the Gipsformerei; Nikolaus Schneider and the team at the Theater im Delphi; Ron Gallant and the team at Affinity Production Group; Yvonne Coutts and Lana Morton at Ottawa Dance Directive; Annette Hegel, Daniel Kaunisviita and the team at DARC; Sandra Dyck, Heather Anderson, Patrick Lacasse, Fiona Wright, Danielle Printup and Victoria McGlinchey at CUAG; along with Walter Zanetti, Odessa Boehm, Markus Lemm, Andrew Rose,Aaron Pollard, Andrew Johnston and Patrick Côté.

I am grateful for warm conversations with Guy Cools, Melissa Bull, Aboubakar Sanogo, Cornelia Principe, Megan Jerome, Marc-Alexandre Reinhardt, Deborah Margo, and Maura Doyle. Thank you to Minodora Taler, Laurian Taler, Xenia Taler, Nicu Spataru, Stanley Frankentaler, Charlotte Frank, Mitchell Frank and Saul Frank Taler for always standing by me.

A huge thank you to all those who donated to CUAG’s THREE SONGS Future Funder campaign. I also thank Migration and Diaspora Studies at Carleton University, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Dance Directive and DARC for their generosity in supporting this project.