Joanna Rajkowska and Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman
Night Herons

Video / Commissioned work


Paranoia TV

Production specifics
Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’20

With the kind support of Polish Institute Vienna

What if Rajka’s father had not made a pact with the swamp that protected him from Auschwitz? What if the doe he killed remembered the swamp? What if Robert’s great-grandmother left Poland by the forest that knew the doe? What if the rabbinic council of exiles in Amsterdam had not cursed Baruch de Spinoza? What if we can incite such memory to reverse the curse, the pact, the murder, the leaving? Night Herons tells the story of a hunt in the ever-shrinking forests of Kujawsko-Pomorskie in Poland. The film deploys marionettes in the actual forest environments as well as sets reconstructed from memory. Its protagonists—the corpses of hunted animals—journey through a series of situations, soundscapes, and recitations that mix historical invocations with the intimate family entanglements of both artists. In orchestrating the ancient Slavic singing form of “white voice” with traditional Ashkenazi healing methods, basic postmortem practices reserved for human bodies, and the curse and writings of Spinoza, the artists construct a risky hybrid, an interspecies rebellion, and radical lamentation against what they swear will kill us all.

Music: Mutant Goat (Ola Kozioł, Andrew Dixon, Suavas Lewy)
Dramaturgy: Joanna Rajkowska, Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman, Andrew Dixon
Sets: Andrew Dixon, Basia Ciacek, Viktoriia Tofan
Marionettes: Joanna Rajkowska, Lili Bargłowska, Basia Ciacek, Andrew Dixon, Viktoriia Tofan
Animals: Wiktoria Tofan, Joanna Rajkowska
Costumes: Wiesława Rozwonkowska, Konrad Pietruszyński
Props: Lili Bargłowska, Joanna Rajkowska, Konrad Pietruszyński, Rosa Dixon
Ceramics: Danuta Jarecka
Marionettists: Andrew Dixon, Basia Ciacek, Joanna Rajkowska
Voice over: Matthew Daniel, Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman
DOP: Leszek Molski
Editing: Marcelina Górka
Sound design and mix: Franciszek Kozłowski
Puppet design consultant: Basia Poczwardowska
Shooting boards: Leszek Molski
Publicity photograph: Marek Szczepański
Producers: Agnieszka Sobocińska, Dorota Przyłubska