A setting of the opening of Hadžem Hajdarević's short story, "The Clinic for Plastic Surgery" ("Klinika za plastičnu hirurgiju"), for string quartet, pre-recorded voice and electronics, and video. Video by Katrine Burkitt. English translation below.
Special thanks to the Lydian String Quartet and Jasmin Mehović.
* * *
I don't know how much I slept. Maybe three hours, may ten times more, but it seemed to me that I had slept so long that I began to doubt even my own awakening.
I dreamed of a forest. The forest did not have recognizable seasons at all. There was no time of day either. I could have sworn that the entire landscape was made up of carefully designed plasticky playdough. On almost every trunk hung photographs or, rather, imprinted pictures of the same face. Below each picture was written only one name: MIRALEM. Latin or cyrillic letters were non-standardized. Here and there, even, in some places jumbled together. Clearly different hands had written them. The name was written out several times even in Arabic. On a tree, which by its bark and leaves was reminiscent of an oak, the face had glasses, a drooping moustache, a purple turtleneck, like on international wanted poster for smugglers of weapons and drugs, on individual branches the face had just a beard, or the head was completely bald, some of the faces had fat cheeks and rolling double-chins, some were excessively thin, gaunt, but the same expression was always in the photographs, directed straight at the viewer. Always, however, the signature stood beneath the picture: MIRALEM.
Flies buzzed all around. Like frenzied, black flecks in the sky. In the branches droned oily swarms. One swarm positioned on a beech stump reminded me of scattered lead type. Miralem had died ages ago, yelled someone from the purple hillside. Again he is alive, so alive he couldn't be more alive, reverberated the echo and grew into a melody that reminded me of something that that someone wanted to take away from me forever, but actually is unintentionally returning to me. At the same time it occurred to me, actually, that it was neither voice nor echo, but rather it seemed like all of that together. Later there were no trees. On the plastic-blue horizon hung an enormous placard with Miralem's face. And signature. Flies, in thick swarms, buzzed the same all around. Unsuccessfully I swatted at them with my hands. The flies were going in my nose, ears, under my eyelids, crawling under my clothing.
Now I become aware that I have awakened multiple times through the night and morning, but that each time I have become entangled anew in the endless flag of Miralem's face.
* * *