Conversations at the Edge Fall 2017
October 12 - November 16
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.
The Pink Egg
2016, Jim Trainor, USA, 71 min.
- Thu, Oct 12th 6:00pm
Featuring his trademark dark comedy and fascination with the natural world, Chicago-based animator Jim Trainor explores the complex and curious lives of insects in his first live-action feature. Casting humans in the starring roles, THE PINK EGG follows life-cycles of “The Seven Sisters,” a group of evolutionarily related wasps and bees. Unitard costumes and candy-colored props set the stage for the feeding, mating, and hunting rituals of a civilization as successful as our own, yet founded on utterly alien principles. The narrative advances without dialogue or narration, leaving the audience to puzzle out its mysterious goings-on, evoking a Mother Nature who keeps her cards close to her chest. Digital file.
2006-17, Various artists, Various nations, ca. 80 min.
- Thu, Oct 19th 6:00pm
In an epoch defined by avatars, reality bubbles, and the rapid spread of alt-facts, the role of computer simulation technologies and the parallel worlds they produce take on new dimensions. Curated by Claudia Hart, Rachel Clarke, and Pat Reynolds, "The Real-Fake" brings together 23 artists working with 3-D simulation tools to produce a new esthetic and ethic of the fake. For example, the Russian collective AES+F turns geopolitical hierarchies upside down in an uncanny digital trompe l’oeil; Moreshin Allahyari creates an imaginary space to explore the communication breakdowns caused by limitations to Internet access; and the avatar and virtual artist LaTurbo Avedon explores the Internet’s physical manifestations in a new work commissioned for this show. This program is part of a much larger and ongoing project, including additional screenings, gallery exhibitions, and writing. Hart and Clarke will introduce the program and be joined by Avedon for a discussion afterward. Digital file.
Tense Nature: The Changeover System
2017, Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder, USA, 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 26th 6:00pm
Known for performances that transform films into stunning sculptures of light, New York-based artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder return to Chicago with their latest live work. The piece unites the Gene Siskel Film Center’s two theaters by cycling the reels of one feature-length film through each of its four 35mm projectors. The artists introduce glassware and other diffracting media to bend, scatter, distort, and redefine the film’s image. Joined by Chicago-based musician Brian Case, who builds darkly ambient soundscapes from stuttered tape loops and layered lock grooves, the three guide the audience between the two spaces to produce a spectral montage in three dimensions. Presented in collaboration with Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Live performance.
Alex Gerbaulet: Digging Deep
2005-17, Alex Gerbaulet, Germany, ca. 65 min.
- Thu, Nov 2nd 6:00pm
Alluring and enigmatic, the films of German artist Alex Gerbaulet unearth the complex narratives hidden within personally and collectively repressed memory. Utilizing both archival material and footage filmed by the artist herself, Gerbaulet’s documentaries bridge the gap between analysis and poetry. Buildings, space, and the body serve as sites that bear witness to past crime and trauma. Questioning voiceovers dissolve the idyllic facades of these structures, as her films examine the consequences of passively forgetting. Through political and biographical frameworks, Gerbaulet quietly confronts the lingering vestiges of a problematic history. The program features Gerbaulet’s recent films SCHICHT (2015) and DEPTH OF FIELD (2017), followed by TATTOOED PRISONERS (2007) and DATTERODE (2005). Presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Chicago. Various formats.
The Films of Ana Mendieta
1971-81, Ana Mendieta, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Nov 9th 6:00pm
The late Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta forged a radical practice that explored primal themes of displacement, the body, violence, and transformation. Known mostly for her earthworks, photographs, and performances, Mendieta also created numerous short films. With these works, she both captured her ephemeral performances and further transformed them through trick photography, staging, or video synthesis. In SILUETA SANGRIENTA (1975) the artist’s body is suddenly replaced with a pool of blood; in BUTTERFLY (1975) the artist’s body morphs and pulsates with the electrons of a video monitor. Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, film archivist for The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, presents a selection of these films, many which have been recently rediscovered and restored. The program will be followed by a discussion with Raquel Cecilia Mendieta and scholar Rachel Weiss. Digital file.
Sondra Perry: Performance and Video
2015-17, Sondra Perry, USA, ca. 65 min.
- Thu, Nov 16th 6:00pm
Mixing personal history and pop culture, New York-based artist Sondra Perry savvily dissects power relations that shape Black identity and representation. Her performances and multimedia works use video games, glitchy 3D avatars, and computer desktop windows to express and explode biases built into the code of everyday life. In the video-performance LINEAGE FOR A MULTIPLE-MONITOR WORKSTATION: NUMBER ONE (2015-17), she layers footage of family members acting out real and fabricated familial lore, inviting audiences to consider the shifting and mutable threads of identity in the digital age. In IT’S IN THE GAME ’17 OR MIRROR GAG FOR VITRINE AND PROJECTION (2017), she focuses on her brother — who, as an NCAA college basketball player had his likeness used without compensation in popular video games — and contemplates the ways images of Black men and women have long been exploited for profit and prestige. Live performance and digital file.
Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits
2015, Coco Fusco, Cuba/USA, ca. 65 min.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Coco Fusco has had to postpone her screening and appearance at Conversations at the Edge. She will return in an upcoming season.
For more than 30 years interdisciplinary artist Coco Fusco has explored notions of race, identity, and power through video and performance. In recent years Fusco has examined a number of legendary stories that lack pictorial representation due to institutional censorship or an absence of governmental documentation. She presents two intimate artist portraits centered on concepts of the body, state control, and expurgation, investigating their effects on artistic production and political discourse in Cuba. Both created in 2015, LA CONFESIÓN explores the public confession of poet and accused counterrevolutionary Heberto Padilla, while LA BOTELLA AL MAR DE MARIA ELENA focuses on the state intimidation of political reformer Maria Elena Cruz Varela. These portraits examine the relationship of art and artists to our contemporary political moment while charting a legacy of regime power and control of information. Multiple formats.
Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank.