Project: Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children Project

The Project

The Midnight’s Children Project is a musical and artistic interpretation of Salman Rushdie’s highly acclaimed, award winning novel, for the purpose of demonstrating how we as humans apply magical realism to resolve cultural conflict and genocide. This collaboration of leading experts in the Arts, Sciences and Humanities aims do educate and explore the healing properties of three methods of expression: word, visual art and sound.

Connecting Literature, Art and Music

More than 30 years after its first publication, Salman Rushdie’s epic novel, Midnight’s Children resonates more than ever in a world of growing conflict, calling for articulate, creative story telling. Visual artist Alexander Klingspor and Violinist-Composer Ittai Shapira have integrated visual art and music in response to the book, exploring story telling through their respective disciplines. We believe that literature, visual art, and music can be effective tools for us to better understand one another in a world of growing conflict; And what better way than the magical realism of novelist Salman Rushdie, be it in a museum, classroom, a concert hall, and for populations in need-globally.

Salman Rushdie

What one hopes for most for one’s work is that it will stand the test of time and continue to be alive long after the moment of its creation. I was excited and moved that two artists as gifted – and as young! – as Ittai Shapira and Alexander Klingspor should wish to come together to respond to Midnight’s Children and create new work. My role is to discuss with them what they find in the book and to say how it fits with my own feelings about it, both then, when I wrote it, and now. I can’t wait to see and hear the results of this three-way collaboration.

Alexander Klingspor

When composer and violinist Ittai Shapira proposed the idea of collaborating on the theme of Salman Rushdie’s masterpiece Midnight’s Children, I felt thrilled, honored, and extremely challenged. How does one live up in visual language to the written words of one of the most brilliant authors of our time? Midnight’s Children is a story as beautifully told, as it is complex, with many dimensions to it.

Based upon Mr. Rushdie’s book “Midnight’s Children”, I’ve created a first sketch for an installation piece that would correlate with the story of the book; it’s magical realism, linear human time and cyclic time of Indian mythology. Along with the music of Mr. Shapira, the painting will be complete, as it will depict similar events of the book as the music.

Being that the canvas is a two-dimensional surface, and the Midnight’s Children is a complex story with many dimensions referring to both linear time of man and cyclic time of Indian mythology, I’ve constructed a storyline on a circular canvas. The book refers to clock time, so the center of this canvas is a clock, and moving around it is the storyline. Additionally, there will be three rotating storylines referring to the three main books within the overall plot. These three storylines will be able to move independently from one another. This way the viewer will experience the music inspired by any particular chapter/part of the book according to the rotating part of the painting.

Ittai Shapira

Having read Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, I was struck by Mr. Rushdie’s masterful and compelling way of depicting the juxtaposition of tradition and independence on one hand, fantasy and reality on the other, in short-Magical Realism. Conversations with the illustrious painter Alexander Klingspor made me realize that our approaches to painting and musical composition share many similarities, such as Texture, Rhythm and Color.

Key dates in the book ground the story line in reality; I decided to experiment with translating numerological dates to their corresponding pitches and sound waves. Reacting to the incredibly imaginative narrative, I used a continuous musical thread with melodies, musical foreground and background, developing a life of their own, yet guided by the book.

Mr. Klingspor’s colors, linear and cyclic time in ways that would allow different characters of the book to come to life in the viewer’s mind, while being part of an epic story line. I believe that conversations with Mr. Rushdie and Mr. Klingspor have influenced my work greatly.  Having recorded the concerto with the BBC National Orchestra is Wales, our mission is to help develop a cohesive piece to which people from different disciplines and cultures can relate and experience in a diversified fashion.  This perennial project is now designed to use the power of the Arts to heal on an educational, medical, and collective level.