Laura Poitras’ Oscar-nominated film »All the Beauty and the Bloodshed« is an epic, emotional and interconnected story about internationally renowned artist and activist Nan Goldin. Told through intimate interviews, photography, and footage, central to the story is her personal fight to hold the Sackler family accountable for the opioid crisis. The film cuts to the bone with its incandescent celebration of life and condemnation of those who threaten it. Art and activism are one and the same.
Helping to interweave Goldin’s past and present, multi-disciplinary duo Soundwalk Collective soundtrack her personal and political struggles to sublime effect. The contemporary sonic arts platform of founder and artist Stephan Crasneanscki and producer Simone Merli, the pair work with a rotating constellation of artists and musicians, developing site-and-context-specific sound projects through which to examine conceptual, literary, or artistic themes. And for all the beauty and the bloodshed on show here, the duo strike the balance just right; their compositions in collaboration with Zacharias Falkenberg and Johannes Malfatti producing a trance that oscillates between grace and madness.
Within the score, Crasneanscki draws connections with the life and work of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, who was removed from society through confinement in institutions. In his last poems, written as fragments while he was plagued by mental illness, Hölderlin renders nature, in all its fragility and ephemerality. Similar themes merge in Laura's portrait of Goldin and serve as an inspiration for the composition of the choral songs and cantus within the soundtrack. Through the repetition of words and the layering of voices, the lyric scansion operates like a language possessed, echoing various styles from sacred music to modern minimalist techniques. The music is characterised by quivering strings and swells, de-tuning and lingering, shifting around the surreal, and creating a spectrum of musical experience. Exerts of Nan’s narration are featured in two of the tracks, her powerful narration offering a more direct approach to the storytelling.
In »All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,« Poitras shows protest is really Goldin’s great artwork: Her entire life had been leading to this moment of passionate expression, an inspired situationist gesture which fused the personal and the political. Art can change the world, which Poitras and Goldin tell us with powerful results. While there are multiple threads in this remarkable portrait which could have carried entire films, the soundtrack provides a sonic identity that helps keep track of proceedings. Utterly unique in their approach, Soundwalk Collective have delivered a gripping and thoughtful score, helping turn Goldin’s personal pain into culture-rattling impact.