Conversations at the Edge Autumn 2016
September 29 - November 17
Conversations at the Edge is a weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists. The series is organized by SAIC's Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank.
Sally Cruikshank’s Cabaret
1971-2016, Sally Cruikshank, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Sep 29th 6:00pm
"Excellently wonky and vibrant ... Amidst the interspecies telekinesis and bouncy tunes, there's a real concern for the foibles and follies of being alive—whatever and whenever your body. And it's funny. It's really funny." – Jesse Malmed, Cine-File
Since the 1970s, Sally Cruikshank has produced some of the most mind-bending independent animations of her generation. Featuring a motley assortment of talking animals and smart objects, her works blend the anarchic style of Depression-era cartoons with a darkly humorous sensibility. In her best-known film, QUASI AT THE QUACKADERO (1975), a misshapen duck blunders through a surreal amusement park. In FACE LIKE A FROG (1987), creatures cavort to music by Danny Elfman. Cruikshank presents work from throughout her career, including classic "Sesame Street" spots and a recent new media project featuring a chatbot named Whinsey. Film prints courtesy of the Sally Cruikshank and Jon Davison Collection at the Academy Film Archive. Various formats. (Amy Beste)
SEPTEMBER 29: Sally Cruikshank will be present for audience discussion.
The Perlin Papers
2006-12, Jenny Perlin, USA, ca. 54 min.
- Thu, Oct 6th 6:00pm
The 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg — US citizens accused of spying for the Soviet Union — haunts "The Perlin Papers," Jenny Perlin’s (MFA 1998) unsettling exploration of the United States’ culture of paranoia during the Cold War. Produced as a cycle of eight films, the project draws from an archive of FBI files kept on hundreds of people only tangentially related to the case. Perlin highlights the minutiae and assumptions recorded in the archive. In one sequence, an FBI-bugged dinner party comes to life, full of ellipses and muffled words; in another, the hasty notes of a government informant are carefully reanimated. The result brings the era’s darkest moments into conversation with state surveillance today. Digital file. (Amy Beste)
OCTOBER 6: Jenny Perlin will be present for audience discussion.
2016, multiple artists, multiple countries, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 13th 6:00pm
Temporary Highs is a series of linked exhibitions by curator Lindsay Howard that explores how the structure of the internet enables reward-seeking behavior in a compulsive cycle of sharing and consumption. It focuses on artworks that operate in a space where immediate gratification is paramount and multitasking has become a requisite social behavior. Featuring works by Pascual Sisto, Addie Wagenknecht, Petra Cortright, and others, this screening examines the pleasure and anxiety around these experiences as well as the constant search for validation, understanding, and connection. Multiple formats. (Lindsay Howard)
OCTOBER 13: Lindsay Howard will be present for audience discussion.
Sara Magenheimer: Slow Zoom Long Pause
2011–16, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 20th 6:00pm
In her arresting videos, Sara Magenheimer mixes humor and playfulness with a sophisticated inquiry into language and meaning-making. Using visual puns, graphics, and text-to-voice computer programs, her work explores the slippery dimensions of communication. In SEVEN SIGNS THAT MEAN SILENCE (2013), two disembodied computer voices describe in-between places where meaning hides. In SLOW ZOOM LONG PAUSE (2015), characters meditate on the many ways language fails. Multiple formats.
Presented in collaboration with Video Data Bank as part of the organization’s 40th Anniversary Year.
OCTOBER 20: Sara Magenheimer will be present for audience discussion.
Nicolás Pereda: Minotaur and The Palace
2013–15, Mexico, ca. 91 min.
- Thu, Oct 27th 6:00pm
Nicolás Pereda’s extraordinary films intertwine documentary and narrative to portray everyday life in Mexico. In his first Chicago appearance, Pereda presents two recent works, each a suggestive fable of labor and leisure. THE PALACE (2013) follows an enigmatic household of women and young girls who train each other to become housekeepers. The puzzle-like chamber piece MINOTAUR (2015) focuses on a trio of young adults as they read, sleep, and commune in the soft light of a Mexico City apartment. In Spanish with English subtitles. DCP. (Amy Beste)
Presented in collaboration with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, which presents a second program with Pereda on Friday, October 28.
OCTOBER 27: Nicolás Pereda will be present for audience discussion.
Paul Kos: Sympathetic Vibrations
1970–2007, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Nov 3rd 6:00pm
A key figure in West Coast video and conceptual art, Paul Kos makes poetic and often playful works from humble materials mined for their physical properties and metaphorical possibilities. In the elegant ICE MAKES FIRE (1974–2004), Kos fashions a block of ice into a lens that can start a fire; in the enigmatic WARLOCK(ING) (1971), he sets small game traps to catch the rain. In this rare evening with the artist, Kos presents a collection of videos made over 40 years and discusses the principles of his practice. Video file. (Video Data Bank)
Presented in collaboration with Video Data Bank as part of the organization’s 40th Anniversary Year, this program also launches the VDB-produced box set Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos.
NOVEMBER 3: Paul Kos will be present for audience discussion.
2012–16, USA, ca. 90 min.
- Thu, Nov 10th 6:00pm
Jacolby Satterwhite combines dance, 3D animation, and the family archive in vast digital phantasmagorias that explore memory, desire, and black gay identity. He often incorporates his mother’s own creative output into his work: her drawings serve as neon-like signs in his groundbreaking series REIFYING DESIRE (2012–14), and her voice is the sonic backbone of his recent BIRDS OF PARADISE (2016). Satterwhite brings his mother’s work into a dizzying and ever-shifting constellation of references—from science fiction to Renaissance painting—radically queering and re-contextualizing personal narratives and canonical histories. In his first Chicago appearance, Satterwhite presents selections from REIFYING DESIRE and new work. Multiple formats. (Amy Beste)
NOVEMBER 10: Jacolby Satterwhite will be present for audience discussion. Introduced and moderated by Dr. Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator at MCA Chicago.
Brett Story: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
2016, Canada/USA, 87 min
- Thu, Nov 17th 6:00pm
"An impressive, genre-subverting work" — Astra Taylor, Filmmaker Magazine
THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES, by the award-winning filmmaker and geographer Brett Story, is an absorbing meditation on the unexpected ways prison shapes lives and landscapes far beyond its walls. Shot across the United States, the film highlights ordinary places tied to the penal system by location, family, and economy: a California mountainside where female prisoners fight the region’s raging wildfires, a Bronx warehouse producing inmate care packages that adhere to New York’s arcane regulations, and an Appalachian coal town betting its future on the promise of prison jobs. Together these vignettes raise important questions about race, power, poverty, and the complex systems that sustain mass incarceration. DCP.
NOVEMBER 17: Brett Story will be present for audience discussion.