Conversations At The Edge - Fall 2018
September 13 - November 15
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.
2015-18, Various directors, Various nations, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Nov 1st 6:00pm
In recent years, the contours of a new contemporary art movement have begun to emerge, forged in reaction to the ideologies of Silicon Valley, the platforming and globalization of culture, and technologies of power like artificial intelligence, photorealistic computer-generated images, and virtual and augmented reality. These "Simulists" simultaneously embrace and subvert technology as their means of interrogation - expressing humanist, nonbinary, and decolonized futures. Curated by Kelani Nichole and featuring works by Morehshin Allahyari, Faith Holland, Eva Papamargariti, Lorna Mills, LaTurbo Avedon, Tabita Rezaire, Meriem Bennani, Lu Yang, and SAIC faculty member Claudia Hart, this program explores identity, the body, and the politics of technology. Multiple formats. (Kelani Nichole)
Curator Kelani Nichole is scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits
2015, Coco Fusco, Cuba/USA, ca. 65 min.
- Thu, Nov 8th 6:00pm
For more than 30 years, interdisciplinary artist Coco Fusco has explored notions of race, identity, and power through video and performance. 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. LA CONFESIÓN explores the public confession of poet and accused counterrevolutionary Heberto Padilla, while LA BOTELLA AL MAR DE MARÍA ELENA focuses on the state intimidation of political reformer María Elena Cruz Varela. These portraits examine the relationship of art and artists to our contemporary political moment. Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank. Multiple formats. (George William Price)
Thursday 11/8: Filmmaker Coco Fusco is scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
2018, jonCates, USA, 55 min.
- Thu, Nov 15th 6:00pm
Chicago-based new media artist jonCates' influential body of work mixes the urgency of punk with the poetics of glitch. His latest project, a glitch Western, takes shape as a feature film and interactive game that critiques the myths and ideology of the American West. Part essay, part documentary, and part genre fantasy, 鬼鎮 (GHOSTTOWN) traces the intersecting paths of Siera Begaye, Native American artist and organizer of the Diné (Navajo) Nation; an archetypal Cowgirl, a descendant of European settlers; and Girl from Gold Mountain, a deity dreamed into existence by Chinese immigrants building the transcontinental railroad. The Cowgirl journeys toward a hallucinatory ghost town, the Girl from Gold Mountain embarks on a mission to collect the bones of her believers, and Begaye sets a new course for the future. 鬼鎮 (GHOSTTOWN) disrupts the Western's most pernicious tropes with glitches and noise, connecting yesterday's traumas and technologies to those of today. DCP digital. (Amy Beste)
Thursday 11/15: Filmmaker jonCates is scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Stan VanDerBeek: Euclidean Illusions
1959-80, Stan VanDerBeek, USA, ca. 65 min.
- Thu, Sep 13th 6:00pm
The visionary work of pioneering media artist Stan VanDerBeek spanned film, interactive television, expanded cinema, and computers. This program, introduced by Johannes VanDerBeek of the VanDerBeek Archive, focuses on the artist's pioneering computer animated films. In POEMFIELD NO. 1 - NO. 8 (1966-69), produced with Ken Knowlton as part of residency at Bell Labs, VanDerBeek mixes analog footage and digital imagery in dazzling layers of pixelated patterns, geometric shapes, and metamorphosing words. VanDerBeek built on the innovations of these experiments in WHO HO RAYS PART 1 (1972) and EUCLIDEAN ILLUSIONS (1980), produced while the artist was in residence at NASA. Also on the program: ASTRAL MAN (1958), SCIENCE FRICTION (1959), and SEE SAW SEAMS (1965). Presented in collaboration with Document Gallery, on the occasion of its solo exhibition of Stan VanDerBeek's work. Preservation prints courtesy of the Film-Makers' Cooperative and the Stan VanDerBeek Archive. 16mm. (Nicky Ni)
2011-17, Camilo Restrepo, Colombia/France, ca. 70 min.
- Thu, Sep 20th 6:00pm
In recent years, award-winning Colombian filmmaker Camilo Restrepo has gained a reputation for striking explorations of personal and political trauma, survival, and resistance. CILAOS (2016) uses the incendiary rhythms of maloya, ritual music derived from slave songs, to tell the story of a woman (played by Réunion Island singer Christine Salem) driven to meet her estranged father after he dies. Loosely based on his lead actor's own story, LA BOUCHE (2017) recounts a father who is called upon to avenge the murder of his daughter. Also on the program: TROPIC POCKET (2011) and LA IMPRESIÓN DE UNA GUERRA (2015). Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank. In French, Réunion Creole, Susu, and Spanish with English subtitles. DCP digital. (Ariel Clark-Semyck)
Margaret Tait: Poems and Portraits
1952-74, Margaret Tait, Scotland, ca. 65 min.
- Thu, Sep 27th 6:00pm
Scottish film-poet Margaret Tait produced an exquisite body of work combining poetry, portraiture, music, ethnography, and animation. She studied filmmaking in Rome during the height of Italian neorealism before returning to Scotland in the early 1950s, where she found inspiration in the contrasting daily rhythms of Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands. In an early jewel of a film, A PORTRAIT OF GA (1952), Tait cut together birdsong and snippets of Orkney lore with shots of her mother and the rugged island landscape to produce a startlingly poignant impression of family and place. She explored similar themes in later films like WHERE I AM IS HERE (1964), COLOUR POEMS (1974), and AERIAL (1974), reflecting on the passage of time while attending to the details of everyday life. 16mm. (Amy Beste)
Steffani Jemison: Sensus Plenior
2008-18, Steffani Jemison, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 4th 6:00pm
Steffani Jemison's multimedia projects draw upon Black vernacular culture to produce new modes of expression and models for community. She presents a selection of audio works alongside her latest video, SENSUS PLENIOR (2017). Latin for "fuller meaning," SENSUS PLENIOR (2017) explores language and gesture through the ecstatic choreography of ordained minister Susan Webb and the Master Mime Ministry of Harlem. Jemison explores similar themes in the ongoing music and performance series RECITATIF, which uses Solresol, a utopian 19th-century musical language, to reinterpret Black popular and political music. Through Solresol's unique structure, Jemison forges alternative ways for understanding history, culture, and everyday life. Multiple formats. (Amy Beste)
Journey to the Sun
1978-83, Stephen Varble, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 11th 6:00pm
In the 1970s, Manhattan-based artist Stephen Varble gained infamy for his elaborate, gender-confounding costumes and disruptive public performances. He retreated from public view in 1978 to focus on an epic, unfinished video, JOURNEY TO THE SUN, until his death in 1984. Ribald, complex, and unorthodox, the video is a surrealist fable of a messianic martyr staged largely on a set built from found objects and street trash. Art historian and SAIC faculty David Getsy, curator of "Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble" at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, presents excerpts from the four surviving hours of JOURNEY TO THE SUN and discusses Varble's transformative approach to gender. Digital file. (David Getsy)
2014, Hélène Crouzillat and Laetitia Tura, France, 70 min.
Throughout their individual careers, artists and filmmakers Hélène Crouzillat and Laetitia Tura have examined the histories of borders and the individuals made most vulnerable by them. Their starkly poetic film LES MESSAGERS (2014) collects the testimonies of migrants traveling from Africa into Europe. In doing so, they also memorialize those who did not survive the journey, relaying stories of adults and children dying of exhaustion, violence, or drowning, their bodies lost at sea, their fates unknown to their loved ones. With carefully composed shots of the Mediterranean and Moroccan desert, Crouzillat and Tura bear witness to the metaphysical costs of geopolitics. Presented in collaboration with SAIC's Department of Liberal Arts and Department of Visual and Critical Studies. In French, Arabic, English, Spanish, and Pulaar with English subtitles. DCP digital. (Ariel Clark-Semyck)
Please note: This trailer does not have English subtitles. Our screening will be subtitled in English.
Peter Burr: Pattern Language
2012-18, Peter Burr, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 25th 6:00pm
Artist and animator Peter Burr creates videos, performances, and video games that conjure virtual spaces and illusive patterns. Burr presents a selection of single-channel computer animations related to his expansive projects, including ARIA END, his collaborative project with game designer Porpentine. THE MESS (2016) follows a solitary woman who is absorbed by the process of cleaning an abandoned arcology, while PATTERN LANGUAGE (2017) uses architect Christopher Alexander's design theories to produce a self-generated labyrinth of flickering pixels. Burr presents these and other works and discusses his latest project, DIRTSCAPER, a series of iterative animations. (Nicky Ni)