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A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness

Ben Rivers / FR, EE, DE, 2013 / 98 min.

Musician Robert A.A. Lowe (aka Lichens) wanders out of the Finnish wilderness into a black metal show in this strange and hypnotic work on spiritual longing and ecstatic beauty. Screened to accompany the exhibition around the EYE Art & Film Prize.

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Ben Rivers, winner of the EYE Art & Film Prize, and Ben Russell follow a man in three apparently unrelated episodes in his life. After a stunning 360-degree shot of a northern lake at sunrise, we travel with him to a small island in Estonia, where a commune of fifteen live their lives in peace. Next we see him leading an isolated existence in the majestic wilderness of northern Finland, though he fails to connect with nature. Finally we watch him perform as the front man of a black metal band during a grim concert in Norway, in an intense 35-minute single take.

The hypnotic A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness is full of darkness, ecstatic beauty and an optimism of the darkest kind. The makers call it a radical proposal to explore possible utopias in the postmodern era.



Ben Rivers

Production year




Original title

A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness


98 min.





Part of

Hito Steyerl, Ben Rivers, Wang Bing - EYE Art & Film Prize

The intersection between film and visual art is an important focus of exhibition policy at Eye. To underline this, Eye and the Paddy and Joan Leigh Fermor Arts Fund launched an annual prize in 2015 to promote new work by an artist/filmmaker who is making an important contribution to this interdisciplinary field.

Learn more
Hito Steyerl, Liquidity, Inc. (2014)
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