This single-channel video installation was shot in a free after-school center in Dubrava, a suburb of Zagreb, Croatia. Never-ending footage of children rehearsing the 1968 Rotary Connection song Magical World, written by Sidney Barnes, acts as an anthem for an uncertain future and presents a glimpse of a country in transition. The children deliver a haunting and hopeful rendition with reservation and pride. In forced and newly learned English, a young Croatian boy sings the enigmatic and defiant first lines: “Why do you want to wake me from such a beautiful dream? Can’t you see that I am sleeping? We live in a Magical World…” Billing portrays a micro-moment, which mirrors a community still recovering from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
Johanna Billing lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. The artist uses performance and video to portray group interactions, merging the real and the staged. Billing received her MFA from Kanstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in 1999. She has been the subject of numerous solo shows over the last few years in Europe and the U.S. and was included in the 9th Istanbul Biennial, the 50th Venice Biennial and the 1st Prague Biennial, Marabou Park, Sweden, P.S. 1, New York and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Her work is part of the collections of the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, Holland, Ulrich Museum of Art, Kansas and Moderna Musset, Stockholm.