In its visual translation of two politically charged pieces by the American composer Frederic Rzewski, Manon de Boer´s video Attica is a multilayered exploration of the theme of time and temporal experience.
Dominated by grainy black and white, the film begins immediately with the last bars of the composition "Coming Together", the musical version of a letter written by Sam Melville, a prisoner at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York who was one of the instigators of the prison revolt there in 1971. It ended with over forty fatalities, including Melville himself.
At first, the camera pans slowly past the individual musicians. However, during the introductory monologue on Attica, it comes to rest on the speaker, and for the remaining duration of the performance completes a 360° circle around it. This slow pan through a vague gray twilight underscores the circular structure of the music, giving the viewer the impression of static timelessness and disorientation, which may have also been experienced by the inmates of Attica prison.
Yet the gentle, almost pastoral character of the music is a disturbing contrast to the resigned tone of the statement by Richard X. Clark, on which the piece is based. Clark was another leader of the rebellion. When, after his release, he was asked by a journalist how he felt now that he was leaving Attica behind, he replied, "Attica is in front of me". (Sayaka Honsho, Misti Wilson)