BAFTA-winning artist and filmmaker Yulia Mahr reveals her new video for Prelude 2 the third single from VOICES 2.
The ‘Prelude 2’ video is an artistic response to our turbulent times and highlights the plight of refugees. According to the United Nations, more than 20,000 migrants and refugees have drowned in the past seven years trying to cross the Mediterranean. Many people including women and children, lost their lives while trying to escape persecution and poverty.
The inherent beauty in Mahr’s imagery is contrasted with harsh brutality of war and global turmoil. The film also is a metaphor for the sensation of drowning that people feel when overwhelmed. Despite its sombre mood, positivity runs throughout: a sense of potential in a future as yet unwritten, with a younger, activist generation emerging.
Yulia Mahr said “When I was a little child I almost drowned, saved at the very last moment by my mother. I still remember the sensation so vividly – it was hazy and dreamy and the seconds went by in slow motion. I wasn’t panicking but it was totally overwhelming – a feeling of the inevitable unfolding. I’ve tried to bring something of the memory of those moments to this video. And my own sense of the power of that, in juxtaposition to the amniotic fluid that gives us life.”
The powerful themes of humanitarianism running through VOICES and single Prelude 2 were informed by Yulia’s own upbringing. She was born in Hungary. At the time, under communism, most women had to work and so Yulia was, in those early years, raised largely by her Grandmother.
Her Grandmother had been a simultaneous translator between five languages . Herself a refugee during the Second World War, who had escaped to Chile – she had worked with and befriended Allende, Neruda and Che Guevara. She raised Yulia in Budapest and her deep humanitarianism and warmth fed the inspiration for VOICES.
When Yulia was seven, she and her mother fled Budapest. They arrived in the UK. Her mother, intent on getting a university education, put herself through college in her mid thirties. They found a place to live by answering an ad in Time Out for a single mother who was either a refugee or migrant that needed a place to live.
She explains, “I was born in Hungary at a time when it was a Communist country. I have such vivid memories of our street, where the buildings were still peppered with bullet holes from the revolution in 56, and where some were still in ruins from World War Two.
In those days each person was allocated a certain predetermined amount of living space, so every flat would contain multiple generations or sometimes even different families. I lived with my great grandfather, my grandmother, aunts, father and mother in three rooms.
My grandmother had fled persecution by the Nazis to the safety of Chile for 20 years – and so in the confines of our flat I was raised on stories of escape, persecution, community and hope. My grandmother remained a humanitarian throughout her life – helping refugees and being part of an international movement towards peace.
In the end my own convoluted story saw my mother and I replicating the large scale migrations of the 20th century and I arrived in the UK – lonely, confused and desperate for security.
While I could rarely see my grandmother after that – her spirit has never left me and it is this spirit that informed the conception and writing of VOICES.”
VOICES 2 follows directly from its first part, the soundtrack to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Order your copy here.