Sleep Connect

By Jo Phillips

Creativity exists as a social project that can illuminate the lives of individuals and society as a whole‘, so says Studio Richter Mahr a collaborative space for sound artist Max Richter and his working partner Yulia Mahr. Their project ‘Sleep’ a film for these frenetic times, a meditative respite from the rush and chaos of the modern world, studying the universal experience of sleep that unites us all. Sleep Connect explores this film as it re-enters cinemas and celebrates the re-opening of the independent cinema spaces.

Max Richter performs his 8-hour musical piece ‘SLEEP’ in the Grote Zaal at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 July 2017. Photo by Rahi Rezvani.

Sleep; something we all need we all crave (a good night’s sleep) the rest, recuperation, and the need to repair. It is universal and a subject much discussed. A liminal sleep refers to the spaces in between things, the moments between sleep and waking liminal spaces can be seen as very creative. In a world where we spend so much time curating information thrown at us, forever keeping out minds buzzing, sleep has a far greater significance than maybe before as our rest times between working seem no longer to exist.

‘Max Richter’s Sleep’, is a documentary telling the story behind the composer’s work, which will reopen in cinemas from Tuesday 8th September accompanied by a Q&A with Max Richter and his creative partner and producer of Sleep Yulia Mahr. His music SLEEP is an eight-hour overnight piece, (think of it as a sleep companion) that has been performed in many international destinations and has received many awards. This film of the concert is an incarnation of his 2015 album of the same name. There is also a one hour version. The sound understandably is calm, slow, melodic, and gently hypnotic.

Max Richter – SLEEP im Kraftwerk Berlin am 15.03.2016 Photo Stefan Hoederath

Max Richter is a German-British composer and pianist. Working within postminimalism as well as the meeting of contemporary classical and popular musical styles. He is well known for numerous and diverse collaborations such as musicians Future Sound of London, and Roni Size, as well as choreographer Wayne McGregor to name but a few, and he training is steeped in classical music. Yulia Mahr his creative partner is the Creative Director at Studio Richter Mahr, as well as being, is an award-winning director, Artist, and Curator.

Think of the film as a ‘meditative respite from the rush and chaos of the modern world’, The film follows the pair as they navigate an ambitious performance of Sleep at an open-air concert in Los Angeles. 

The film is a ground-breaking visual portrait that echoes the contemplative essence of Richter’s work, offering a poetic depiction of the ‘liminal state’ audiences experience when attending a live performance – where fans slumber through the overnight concert in beds, not seats.  From personal archive weaved with performance footage from Berlin, Sydney, and Paris creating a rich portrait of a shared artistic process, along with contributions that illuminate both the science and story behind the work.

The work has been hugely successful worldwide and was premiered in London four years ago and has since been performed around the world and most recently at the Great Wall of China.

Earlier this year Max Richter released his pioneering new album Voices to critical acclaim. This major recording project was inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The album is an artistic response to our turbulent times and the human potential for compassion.  Alongside the album, Yulia Mahr created videos for the first two singles All Human Beings and ‘Mercy’. The videos offer a glimpse into a full audiovisual project which will be announced later in the year.

Studio Richter Mahr, alongside the composer as the studio, acts as an incubator for a wide variety of art and music projects. For more information on the film and tickets please go to Max Richter music.com

If you enjoyed this piece then why not read A Good Nights Sleep here