Aviad Zinemanas and Dor Zlekha Levy


Hagit Emma Werner

“Amor” The audio-visual installation by musician Aviad Zinemanas and video artist Dor Zlekha Levy,
set out to investigate a specific emotional condition named Saudade.
A Portuguese word expresses the sweet melancholy accompanying the recognition that the object
of our deepest yearning will no longer return. It is, of course, a universal experience, but the Portuguese
have managed to give it a name, which has become an entire culture, a “Portuguese way of life.”
Musically, Saudade began with the dozens of ships that set sail from Portugal and coincidentally
“discovered” Brazil. The masses who then left their homeland for the New World left behind scores of
Portuguese who lost their loved ones, a loss expressed in the Fado clubs with the mournful keening of
women for the husbands who had sailed off. The musical style of Saudade is, therefore, a portmanteau
created in the vast ocean between the Portuguese Fado clubs and the Brazilian Bossa nova – the sad
samba. Ironically, the most famous Saudade song is one of the first Bossa nova songs ever to be recorded:
Joao Gilberto’s Chega de Saudade, or “no more Saudade.”

Amor started as a musical work composed by Aviad Zinemanas.
Zinemanas listened to dozens of songs featuring Saudade as a key motif, trying to understand it as a
reduced frequency and not a particular theme. This frequency is expressed in color, pitch, and length
of notes, and not in the dynamic of specific narrative development. Despite the inspiration from existing
works, the tones and textures we hear express the voice of Zinemanas, his very own Saudade. Zinemanas
created an audio track onto which he embedded samples from popular songs. Still, these samples went
through a unique processing filter and were largely lost in the process – so that the work itself is a sort of
Saudade for previous musical works. The various musical layers emerging from the speakers almost hang
still in the air, keeping the auditory frequency Zinemanas tried to create. Their movement in space is gentle.
There are no peaks or plummets. No catharsis. Just Saudade.
When Zinemanas played his new work for Dor Zlekha Levy, the latter wondered whether he could
create a similar reconstruction of Saudade as a video work. The word’s universal presence in popular
culture prompted Zlekha Levy to search for its visual manifestations in blockbuster movies, which represent
a more banal and popular perception of romantic yearning.
Everything available to Zlekha Levy as digital material – meaning everything that could be sampled
and processed – became raw material, out of which he extracted the frames that expressed the digital
frequency he desired, moments that became objects of Saudade. By focusing on fragments of movement,
expressions, and physical gestures, he presents the similarity among various objects of Saudade and
exposes the structure of the shared experience. Out of the horizontal frame, he cuts a vertical view – a
“story” where he slows down the several seconds he chose to cut from the source until they are dismantled
from their specific identity and bleed into color and motion. The characters, taken from films shot in
different countries and times, seem almost identical when devoid of their context and perspective. They
float or hover as a kind of collective Saudade, as a sum of all human loss.

Hagit Emma Werner


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