Conversations at the Edge Spring 2018
February 15 - April 19
Conversations at the Edge is a dynamic weekly series of screenings, artist talks, and performances by some of the most compelling media artists of yesterday and today. CATE is organized by the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank.
Visit the CATE blog at blogs.saic.edu/cate.
Ephraim Asili: Diaspora Suite
2011-17, Ephraim Asili, Various nations, ca. 92 min.
- Thu, Feb 22nd 6:00pm
In 2011, New York-based filmmaker, DJ, and traveler Ephraim Asili began an extraordinary suite of films on the African diaspora. These films — FORGED WAYS (2011), AMERICAN HUNGER (2013), MANY THOUSANDS GONE (2015), KINDAH (2016), and FLUID FRONTIERS (2017) — bring together archival research and Asili’s travels through Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States to chart cultural connections across time and space. FLUID FRONTIERS, for example, explores ideas of resistance and liberation through Detroit’s Broadside Press, one of the most important imprints for Black poetry. Asili asks residents of Detroit and nearby Windsor to read these poems without rehearsal, potently collapsing history, contemporary politics, and art through their magnetic performances. In earlier works like AMERICAN HUNGER, Asili knits together images from Ghana’s Cape Coast slave fort and the New Jersey shore in an effort to understand his own relationship with Western colonialism and U.S. imperialism. Digital file. Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank. (George William Price and Amy Beste)
February 22: Ephraim Asili is scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Purge This Land
2017, Lee Anne Schmidt, USA, 80 min.
- Thu, Mar 1st 6:00pm
Just before his execution, white abolitionist John Brown wrote, “I am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” In her new film, PURGE THIS LAND, L.A.-based filmmaker Lee Anne Schmitt uses Brown’s legacy to consider the long shadows of slavery and systemic, violent racism on the US’s psychic and physical landscape. She interweaves shots of rural back roads and urban centers throughout the country, memorializing the sites of Brown’s radicalization alongside those of race riots, police shootings, and other forms of white racial violence and black disenfranchisement over the last 150 years. Set to a score referencing the histories of black music by Jeff Parker, the film resists easy resolution, modeling resistance instead. DCP digital. (Amy Beste)
March 1: Lee Anne Schmitt and Jeff Parker are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Laura Huertas Millán: Ethnographic Fictions
2016-17, Laura Huertas Millán, Colombia/Mexico, ca. 72 min.
- Thu, Mar 8th 6:00pm
Investigating the terrain between fiction and ethnography, French-Colombian filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán has created a multi-faceted body of work where political history and personal narrative meet. Her 2016 film SOL NEGRO is a portrait of Antonia, a Colombian opera singer, her sister, and her niece. Empathy and anger are exchanged between the women as they each reckon with feelings of deep sorrow and entrapment — within themselves and within the family. LA LIBERTAD (2017) explores the ties that bind labor and creativity by centering on the Navarros, a Mesoamerican matriarchal family that has inherited and mastered the art of weaving on the backstrap loom. Across both of these ethnographic fictions, Huertas Millán’s careful attention to detail reflects the exquisite experience of everyday life. DCP digital. (Ariel Clark-Semyck)
March 9: Laura Huertas Millán is scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Latham Zearfoss: Home Movies
2008-18, Latham Zearfoss, USA, ca. 70 min.
- Thu, Feb 15th 6:00pm
The poetic and pop-infused videos of Chicago-based artist and organizer Latham Zearfoss unite themes of love, community, family, political legacy, personal agency, and collective action. In HOME MOVIE (2012), cell phone videos of social gatherings and public performances are layered with close-ups of natural life, naked bodies, and domestic interiors to form a kaleidoscopic notion of home — as a shared space, a sense of belonging, and site of intimacy. In EXTRAE (2016), shots of cats, unmade beds, and dried flower petals are paired with an irreverent ode to Tyrone Garner, one of the plaintiffs in the 2003 Supreme Court case that overturned archaic sodomy laws throughout the U.S. Zearfoss presents a collection of videos spanning the last decade, including the premiere of two new works, GOTH PARTY and WHITE BALANCE, and he restages SOMETHING TO MOVE IN (2014) and LOVE IS A STRANGER (2012) as live, interactive performances. With Darling Shear, Caroline Campbell, Lea Tshilds. Multiple formats. (Amy Beste)