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Black and white image with a black background. Two figures emerge from the dark, as if lying backwards, with heads hanging upside down. The figures have light skin and dark hair and have their eyes closed and arms outstretched.

Clare Langan, Flight from the City, 2015. Single-channel video, 7 min. Selected by Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland

Flight from the City (2015) is about connection, love, separation, and transition. Starkly shot in ‘black’ water—in the hot springs at Flúðir, Iceland—Langan focuses on the powerful bond between a mother and daughter. While the film addresses universal concerns of humanity in the intimate relationships between a child, a parent, or a partner, the title of the film might also suggest flight from the safety of home. The projection of our experiences become part of the film’s narrative and the entwined and distanced bodies, which we view on screen, ultimately become our own.

The film was shot at Flúðir, Iceland especially for Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s (1969–2018) composition “Flight from the City.” The film was used to launch his 2016 album Orphée. This is the second collaboration between Jóhannsson and Langan, the first being The Floating World (2013).

Artist Q&A

Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?

I am from Dublin, Ireland, and became interested in the moving Image while studying fine art at NCAD Dublin. I was particularly taken at that time with the work of Andrei Tarkovsky and later, while studying at New York University, I was introduced to the experimental film scene there.

What inspired/influenced you to make the work?

The Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson had done the music for my film The Floating World (2013) and asked me if I was interested in making a film for him in exchange. So he sent me the track “Flight from the City,” which then went on to launch his album Orphée. He gave me complete artistic control, and simply to make a film in reaction to his music. At the time I did not know his story behind the music. I shot the film in Iceland with a close friend of mine, Tristan Gribbin, and her nine-year-old daughter Leela. Tristan had recently lost her father and I too had suffered recent loss, so we discussed making a film about love and loss, connection and letting go. It was only when Jóhann released the album and I read the byline that I realized the music was also about his experience of love, loss, and transition.


Clare Langan (Irish, b. 1967) is an Irish artist and filmmaker. Exhibitions and screenings include Kino Der Kunst, Munich (2020); Physical Cinema Festival, Reykjavik (2019); Shaping Ireland, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (2019); The Best of Kino der Kunst, Dirimart, Istanbul (2018), B3 Biennial of the Moving Image, Frankfurt (2017), Lyon Biennale (2007), and Film Trilogy, MoMA, New York (2004).

Her films have received numerous awards, including the Prix Videoformes 2014, Clermont-Ferrand, and the Principle Prize at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival (2007). She represented Ireland at the 25th Bienal de São Paolo (2002).