Conversations at the Edge Fall 2019
Conversations at the Edge is a weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists. The program 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.
For more, visit www.saic.edu/cate.
Selina Trepp: I Work with What I Have
2016–19, Selina Trepp, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Sep 26th 6:00pm
Informed by ideas of improvisation, collaboration, and flux, Chicago-based artist Selina Trepp (BFA 1998) produces exuberant works from radically limited means. Since 2012, she has refrained from bringing new materials into her practice, instead recycling past artworks and remnants into each new project. Her animated films reflect the continuously evolving environment of her studio through their dynamic topographies and breath-like rhythms. For this special program, she presents a selection of recent films; a live performance as Spectralina, her ongoing collaboration with musician Dan Bitney; and the premiere of I WORK WITH WHAT I HAVE (2019), a new stop-motion animation and visual score performed by Bitney, Tomeka Reid, and Jason Roebke. DCP and live performance. (Amy Beste)
New Films from the GLAS Animation Festival
2017–19, Multiple directors, France/Poland/USA, ca. 80 min.
- Thu, Oct 3rd 6:00pm
Each year, the GLAS Animation Festival showcases a thrillingly expansive range of films from around the globe. Founded in 2016 by animators Jeanette Bonds and Einar Baldvin, it has become a singular platform for art and industry alike, highlighting experimental and visionary threads across the spectrum. Bonds presents a selection of films from the festival’s 2019 edition, including Grand Prix winner ACID RAIN (2019), a mind-bending tale of street life and love by Polish animator Tomek Popakul, as well as festival favorite AGUA VIVA (2018), an exquisite portrait of a Chinese immigrant manicurist by Alexa Lim Haas. Also on the program are Marta Pajek’s IMPOSSIBLE FIGURES AND OTHER STORIES III (2018), Lénaïg Le Moigne’s CLEMENCE’S AFTERNOON (2017), Alan Biet’s GRANDS CANONS (2018), and Boris Labbe’s LA CHUTE (2018). Multiple formats. (Amy Beste)
Zach Blas: Obedient x3
2011-19, Zach Blas, Multiple nations, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 10th 6:00pm
Wry and provocative, the work of multidisciplinary artist Zach Blas (Post-Bac 2006) examines technologies of social control through the lens of queer and feminist politics. In recent years, his projects have addressed biometric capture, microdosing, the hegemony of the Internet, and sex toys. Blas presents a suite of these projects, including the Chicago premiere of CONTRA-INTERNET: JUBILEE 2033 (2018). Using Derek Jarman’s queer punk classic JUBILEE (1978) as inspiration, Blas’ film is a CGI fever dream in which Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, and members of Rand's Collective are transported from 1955 to a dystopian future Silicon Valley. Guided by a holographic virtual assistant, the group is confronted by Nootropix, a prophetic figure (played by the artist Cassils) who envisions new modes of connection through the end of the Internet. Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Video Data Bank. Multiple formats.
Narcisa Hirsch: Contact Zones
1972–2019, Narcisa Hirsch, Argentina/UK/USA, ca. 75 min.
- Thu, Oct 17th 6:00pm
A pivotal figure in Latin American experimental cinema, Narcisa Hirsch is renowned for her striking explorations of the body, agency, and desire. Emigrating from Germany to Argentina in the 1930s, Hirsch first took up artistic practice through painting, then shifted to performances and happenings before moving into filmmaking in the late 1960s. Formally rigorous and visually lyrical, her films raise various existential and spiritual questions as they traverse the landscapes of her everyday life, from Patagonia’s steppes and Buenos Aires’ urban streets to her own domestic spaces. Curator Federico Windhausen presents a selection of works from the 1970s and '80s, some screening for the first time in the United States, before moderating a post-screening discussion with the artist, who will join remotely. Films include PERFORMANCE BEBÉS: LONDON–BUENOS AIRES–NEW YORK (1972/2019), DIARIOS PATAGÓNICOS (ca. 1972), COME OUT (ca. 1974), LA NOCHE BENGALÍ (1980), WERNER NEKES (1980), and AMA-ZONA (1983/2001). Multiple formats. (Federico Windhausen)
An Evening with Rachel Rossin
2015-19, Rachel Rossin, USA, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Oct 24th 6:00pm
Over the last four years, multidisciplinary artist Rachel Rossin has gained recognition for a series of astonishing exhibitions that blend oil painting, sculpture, and virtual reality. Rossin’s practice investigates the fluid boundary between physical and digital worlds, particularly the ways information and sensory experience are transfigured by each. In the 2015 virtual reality artwork I CAME AND WENT AS GHOST HAND, photogrammetry models of the artist’s studio and domestic spaces dissolve in response to the user’s gaze to create an elastic, unstable environment. In the critically acclaimed THE SKY IS A GAP (2017-19), time and space are enmeshed as the user’s body slows down, speeds up, or reverses a cataclysmic explosion. Rossin presents a selection of works in video and virtual reality and discusses them within the wider context of her practice. Multiple formats. (Amy Beste)
2019, Shengze Zhu, USA/Hong Kong, 124 min.
Award-winning filmmaker Shengze Zhu (MFA 2017) is celebrated for her incisive portraits of everyday life in China. Her latest film, PRESENT.PERFECT., spotlights the country’s explosive livestreaming phenomenon. Collaged from more than 800 hours of footage from “anchors” who share their lives with a virtual community, the film eschews the medium’s stars to focus on marginalized figures—a burn victim, a crane operator, and a factory farm worker, among others. Each anchor offers an indelible window into Chinese society, defined by physical isolation and virtual sociability. Their collective experiences raise provocative questions about technology and the ever-shifting parameters of community and commerce. DCP digital. (Minh Nguyen)
An Evening with Hiwa K
2006-19, Hiwa K, Iraq/Turkey/Greece/Italy/Germany, ca. 60 min.
- Thu, Nov 7th 6:00pm
Drawing from individual stories, political actions, and his own experience fleeing Iraq by foot in the late 1990s, the deeply moving and often darkly absurd films, performances, and installations of Iraqi-German artist Hiwa K explore our most pressing issues—displacement, war, and identity. In videos like PRE-IMAGE (BLIND AS THE MOTHER TONGUE) (2017) and A VIEW FROM ABOVE (2017), both produced for documenta 14, the artist allegorizes the fragmentation and precariousness of migration. In others, he stages collaborative interventions in sites of political trauma, including a former detention center for political prisoners, a civil protest in the Kurdish region of Iraq, and a scrapyard devoted to smelting battlefield waste. Hiwa K shows a selection of these works and discusses the ideas and approaches that inform his broader practice. Presented in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Chicago. Multiple formats. (Amy Beste)
2017, Filipa César, Germany/Guinea-Bissau, 96 min.
- Thu, Nov 14th 6:00pm
The genre-bending work of Portuguese artist Filipa César takes up the legacies of European colonialism, focusing on moments and movements of resistance. In 2012, she began investigating a trove of footage documenting Guinea-Bissau’s war of independence from Portugal in the 1960s and 1970s. Long thought to be lost, these films mark the birth of a national cinema and the aesthetic strategy of decolonization under revolutionary leader Amílcar Cabral. In collaboration with two of the surviving filmmakers, Sana na N’Hada and Flora Gomes, César digitized and toured the material across Europe and Africa. SPELL REEL juxtaposes the original revolutionary films with footage from these events to offer a collaborative reflection on Guinea-Bissau’s history and a prismatic vision for its future. Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Video Data Bank. DCP digital. (Amy Beste)
2012-19, USA/UK/Hong Kong/Canada/Germany, ca. 75 min.
- Thu, Nov 21st 6:00pm
Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Re:Working Labor at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries, Image Employment presents a selection of recent moving image works that investigate various modes of contemporary labor and production. Curated by Aily Nash and Andrew Norman Wilson, the program explores the growing confluence of human and machinic technologies, corporate lifestyle, globalized capitalism’s extraction and exploitation of workers and the environment, and the psychic effects of these forms of labor. Featuring Harun Farocki’s A NEW PRODUCT (2012), Stephanie Comilang’s COME TO ME PARADISE (2016), and Jenn Nkiru’s BLACK TO TECHNO (2019). Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries, as part of the exhibition Re:Working Labor, on view September 21-November 27, 2019. Multiple formats. (Aily Nash and Andrew Norman Wilson)