“Nightfall” returned to Green-Wood Cemetery this year with an exciting mix of local community members and participants from all over. Death of Classical, the Afro Jazz Alliance, Rooftop Films, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Morbid Anatomy and The Moth have teamed up with Green-Wood Cemetery to feature artists at this architecturally well-known National Historic Landmark for an evening to remember .
Centered on memories of life, death, and everything beautiful in between, “Nightfall” inspired every dreamer to dream.
The entrance gates opened at the magic hour and revealed the famous arch with fuchsia lights. Everyone stopped to take a picture before sunset and the stars became our guides. The birds were still singing and snuggling up for the night. They were a sweet reminder of how the presence of nature always makes for a beautiful experience. Right after the entrance there was music playing and various paths were open for people to take and explore as they pleased. An atmosphere of fun and excitement reigned.
To the left of the entrance and up the first hill was the Rooftop Films opening film installation. There was a single black-and-white screen titled “Energy! by Thorsten Fleisch (Germany). It featured an uncontrolled 30,000 volt high voltage discharge exposing multiple sheets of photographic paper arranged in time to create a new visual system of electronic organization. Accompanied by the music of Jens Thiele, it was a breathtaking experience. For me personally, everything I could think of became everything I looked at. The screen exploded into the veins of nature which were shadowy tree trunks, leaves and tombstones protruding from the soft ground. I imagined the souls of the graveyard vibrating in unison and rising together in unison. This film was incredibly skillful and captivating in its placement and delivery.
I crossed the well-lit path, still to my left, and entered a darker part of the cemetery. I was drawn to an area of many silent trees. A bright screen appeared. “Gotham, MVT 2” by filmmaker Bill Morrison (USA) and composer Michael Gordon (USA) has become a colorful lantern of photographic stills from New York’s past. I could also see the traffic lights in the distance flowing along busy streets, including the Brooklyn Bridge. The film’s symphonic aesthetic translated well to how lower Manhattan could be seen from this vantage point. The red, green and white lights below were dancing and playing.
“Manhatta” by photographer and painter Charles Sheeler (USA) and photographer Paul Strand (USA), then played and revealed a 35mm film of 1920s New York full of life and beginnings. Based on Walt Whitman’s poem, “Mannahatta,” this film is cited as the first avant-garde film to be made in America. Above this area was a large tree that hosted a video projection of Loïe Fuller dancing. His movements moved in sync with the wind. The gray sky and the stars became his new backdrop. This concept was very imaginative and very inclusive with nature. One could breathe and sway to the silence of this charted film in complete peace of mind. For me, I felt like I could fly and be held, at the same time, by a very special pair of arms. It was then that the night sky opened its heart and beckoned me.
“Solo Piano – NYC” by Anthony Sherin (USA) was on top of the Gowanus Hills. Featuring the final 24 hours of a once-wanted piano, the five-minute film captured the interactions of passers-by. One could have felt a thoughtful connection between this film and the surrounding monuments of Green-Wood Cemetery. I left with a sense of impermanence and remembered how lucky I had been to experience that night in person. I also enjoyed the minimal piano pinching composition that came with this film. It was dreamlike and surreal.
As I walked down Meadow Ave, I heard a man’s voice welcoming everyone to the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. An ethereal woman dressed in a white crinoline and LED lights walked on stilts and floated above the crowd. A tightrope performer performed a routine to background music. A group of jugglers bobbed and jumped in a wild frenzy. There was laughter and joy at the rendezvous!
On the other side of this area, a live music show took place and members of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance played their instruments brilliantly. The couples danced and/or found a place to sit on the lawn to absorb it all. By this point the wind had eased and you could really sink into their surroundings wherever they decide to be.
The modern chapel, originally designed by Warren and Wetmore in 1913, was the centerpiece of “Nightfall 2022”. This multifunctional, non-denominational Gothic limestone space, transformed into a stage for singer Daisy Press and dancer Liana Kleinman. Members of the public gathered on the candle-lined steps and were completely silent as Daisy’s voice emanated from within the illuminated chapel. She alternated between playing her crystal singing bowls and shruti boxes, as well as a swirl tube. His works included songs from his album of Hildegard von Bingen sings, titled “You Are the Flower”, which was released on September 9 on all streaming platforms.
Liana Kleinman’s movements were poetic and closely tied to Daisy’s voice. The two synthesized a body of sound and movement that created a harmonious atmosphere for everyone from anywhere to enjoy. Daisy also made excellent use of space resonance when she sang inside the chapel. Then, when she joined Liana Kleinman on the steps and in the open air, her voice became intimately real. She sang to the heart of the listener. You could say it was a well thought out collaboration. They performed in tribute to the powers of a moving voice paired with an emotional dancer. Jit was an incredibly moving and healing performance.
Overall, “Nightfall” celebrated the highest purpose of community gathering and reminded everyone of the beauty of life, death, and everything in between.