by James Hansen
André Guerreiro Lopes’ The Flight of Tulugaq is a short, reflective piece fitting for the Wexner Center’s The Box. The Box’s intimate screen confronts the expansive flight of ravens across the Alaskan skyline, yet Lopes’ film undoubtedly suggests the intimacy of this mysterious act. The Box allows the viewer to stand amidst the expansive universe, yet also get close enough to interact with the patterned actions of the unbounded, expansive mythology built around Flight’s 9-minute running time.
Seen first coming out of and around a series of trees, a group of ravens ravens fly together in a group. They quietly rattle the branches of the trees, their movement altering the limited sounds of the landscape around them. The ravens bound from tree to tree, or rise just above. The birds, seen from the view of Lopes’ camera, are impossible to contain. They start closer to the frame, but quickly move further away, becoming dots in an empty sky. They glide across the landscape with an indefinable sense of freedom.
Flight continues as the birds move further away from the trees, slide upward and away from the abandoned world below them. Once isolated, they begin a strange dance in the sky. The ravens seem to play off one another, rolling downward before turning back up. Bouncing from side to side, up and down, they become partners of this mystical tango.
Yet, one by one, Lopes freezes the birds in the air. Forcefully stopping their flight, they are slowly brought together, peering out (and in) as two isolated eyes, two undoubtedly connected presences in this wonderful “song of the winds.” The ravens are no longer really flying so much as hovering, situated in a far off space to which Lopes’ camera cannot have access. They embody some long forgotten transcendent figure, always floating amidst an inaccessible, ungraspable expanse – one that can be seen and reflected upon from afar, yet can only be experienced and known by those part of its unique, distant flight.
The Flight of Tulugaq screened in the Wexner Center’s Box from February 1-28. See Jennifer Lange's conversation with Mr. Lopes for more information.