Benera and Estefan
Rehearsals for Peace, 2023

2 channel 4K video installation, color, stereo sound, 16:26 min,
hay, recycled wooden boards, tree branches, textiles, fur, military tripod, whip, and other found materials. 

Imagine a pastoral landscape where the rhythmic grazing of animals seamlessly accommodates the military training schedule, resulting in a surreal coexistence of sheep and armored vehicles. This peculiar juxtaposition characterizes the daily life of Cincu, a Transylvanian village nestled in central Romania.

A tale from the 16th century narrates the story of Ursula, a female figure disguised as a man, who successfully chased away occupying intruders (at that time, the Ottomans) using the supersonic sound of a whip. This account purportedly originated in Cincu, which today houses one of NATO’s key combat training zones in Romania.

Rehearsals for Peace breathes life into Ursula's legend within the present-day occupied pastoral landscape, employing the sonic might of whip-cracking as a spell. The film portrays a contemporary Ursula facing the modern armored vehicles, and harnessing the potential of the local ritual. She assimilates elements from the military's choreographic lexicon, like tactical hand signals, and intertwines them with the ancient practice of whip-cracking. 

performer: Simona Dabija
DOP & editor: Tudor Cioroiu
camera assistant: Andra Mirea
color grading: Simona Cristea
sound composition: Simina Oprescu
field recordist: Laurenţiu Coţac
mask and costume designers: Dinu Bodiciu, Olah Gyarfas
CGI: Sergiu Negulici

comissioned by Neue Berliner Kunstverein, 2023
co-produced by the n.b.k. Video-Forum and Austrian Federal Ministry for Art and Culture
Photo: © n.b.k. / Jens Ziehe / artists