Posted by | pjomad | Posted on | September 28, 2016
This week, we are excited to welcome animator Sally Cruikshank to kick off our fall 2016 season! In preparation, we are excerpting part of an interview with Cruikshank published by Art of the Title. In this interview, Cruikshank looks back over her career with Art of the Title Managing Editor, Lola Landekic.
Lola Landekic: So, maybe before we get into the major film work and the commercials and Sesame Street and the National Film Registry, we can start at the basics. How did you get into animation?
Sally Cruikshank: Well, I was an art major in school at Smith. In my senior year, I taught myself about animation and made a film. A professor helped me set up a photo enlarger and that got me started. I graduated early from Smith and went on to the San Francisco Art Institute because I wanted to get as far away from New England as possible! I made a couple of art films there, just on my own. One was called Fun On Mars, which was sort of my reaction to San Francisco.
That was followed by one called Chow Fun, for which I got a tiny grant from an organization that eventually became South by Southwest, many years later. While I was editing Chow Fun at Snazelle Films — I went in and rented a Moviola to edit it — I got a call that the boss wanted to see me. I finished the editing, and I thought, “Oh man, I must’ve broken the Moviola.” I thought I was in trouble. Instead he said, “I want to hire you to experiment in animation.”
LL: And that’s how you got hired at Snazelle?
SC: Yeah, so Gregg Snazelle hired me and I had this great job where they let me work on my own films. Gregg called it “heading the animation department” but it was just me, so I was just heading myself! He was hiring me to do commercials when we got them, and then the rest of the time to experiment with animation.
They had recently done some great and recognized commercials for Levi’s using rotoscope, one was called The Stranger and it was very well designed, by Chris Blum. Gregg Snazelle won many awards for them. It was done in rotoscope which hadn’t been seen much since the ’40s. They revived rotoscope, really.
So then I did some commercials for them. I believe I did the first commercials for The Gap when it was still just a clothing store in San Francisco, and I did a commercial for Connie Shoes.
I’ve been looking for the rest of those commercials. I used to have them on a 3-quarter inch tape, but that wasn’t a very strong format. They’ve all disintegrated. Formats become obsolete so fast, it’s just stunning. One-inch tape, too. That used to be like the rock solid format for commercials, for broadcasting, but that’s another super fragile format that they can barely save anymore.
We got very few commercial projects, actually, but I had to go to work, 40 hours a week, one hour for lunch, so I got busy and made cartoons.
One thing that was so different is that Gregg didn’t care about owning anything I did. I had signed no contract; there was no, “All of this belongs to me,” which is everywhere now in the business. When my films were finally finished, he still didn’t want to own them! They were my films and I’d made them there. It was a wonderful arrangement.
LL: What was animation like then, in the 1970s? How did the industry seem to you?
SC: The industry was mainly down in Southern California, really. In Northern California we were so out of that. There was so little production going on there. Gregg was doing commercials, but it was more just art. I felt I was an artist experimenting with things. The scene in LA was very male-dominated, and in San Francisco there was very little animation going on…
Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | August 23, 2016
We’re thrilled to announce Conversations at the Edge’s fall 2016 season! Guests include Sally Cruikshank, Jenny Perlin, Sara Magenheimer, Nicolás Pereda, Paul Kos, Jacolby Satterwhite, Brett Story, curator Lindsay Howard, and the group Text of Light (Lee Ranaldo, Alan Licht, and Tim Barnes) performing alongside films by László Moholy-Nagy. Check out full season details here.
Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | August 14, 2016
We’re thrilled to announce that our fall 2016 season kicks off September 29 with an appearance by legendary independent animator Sally Cruikshank! Additional highlights include appearances by artists Jenny Perlin, Nicolás Pereda, and Jacolby Satterwhite, among many others. Watch for our full season line-up next week!
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | June 22, 2016
We are delighted to have graduate student Lara Schoorl help us conclude our spring 2016 season with some thoughts on artist Lyra Hill!
Lyra Hill’s work as an artist, curator, and performer expresses a deep engagement with place, whether that is a physical location or conceptual mindset. In her recent show at Conversations at the Edge, Hill used the conditions of her immediate surroundings—screens, audience movement, the darkness of the theater, and recent news of Prince’s death—as raw material for her transformative performances. These included the group meditation Breathe With Cube, an immersive performative reading of her comic Cat Tongue, and Happy Ending, an enveloping new piece on death and what lies afterward.
Although Chicago is not explicitly present in Hill’s work, her work engages the city’s arts communities. Hill is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was involved with groups such as Xerox Candy Bar and the Experimental Film Society. After her graduation in 2011, Hill founded and ran Brain Frame, a groundbreaking series of “performative comix readings” held at different locations in Chicago from 2011 to 2014. She currently teaches teens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, hosts numerous events around the city, and runs the radio show Magic Chats, for which she invites people to bring in and talk about sounds and the unseen.
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | April 15, 2016
Thursday, April 21 | Join us for Chicago based artist and curator Lyra Hill!
Comics artist and filmmaker Lyra Hill produces spectacular performances that mix psychedelia with fantastic tales of self-discovery, the body, and the mysteries of nature. She uses multiple film projectors, looping audio effects, and pulsating hand-drawn images to create super-sensory environments of light, color, and sound. For this event she will present three pieces, including Breathe With Cube (2015) a “comedy trance” featuring an anaglyphic 3D cube that pulsates, grows, and splits in two; Cat Tongue (2014) a tale of sexual exploration and heavy machinery; and a new piece, created especially for the Gene Siskel Film Center, that meditates on “the end” with drawings animated by three alternating slide projectors.
2014–16, USA, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion
Lyra Hill (San Francisco, CA) is an artist and curator living in Chicago. Raised in a neo-Pagan tradition, Hill began teaching at witch camps and leading public rituals at the age of 16. Her 16mm films have screened at festivals internationally. She has presented her hybrid performances at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Printers Ball, Chicago Underground Film Festival, and Chicago Alternative Comics Festival. She has also presented her work at venues across the country, including Artists’ Television Access (San Francisco), Cinefamily (Los Angeles), and Echo Park Film Center (Los Angeles) in addition to countless underground shows in strange, secretive places. Hill works as a teaching artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She is currently hosting and producing a weekly radio interview show called Magic Chats. She received her BFA from SAIC in 2011.
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | April 13, 2016
This week I am excited to welcome undergraduate Connor Crable to write for us! Crable sharply discusses Deborah Stratman’s newest film, The Illinois Parables, which deals with a series of histories that have been buried over time.
In just short of an hour, Deborah Stratman’s newest film, The Illinois Parables, ushers viewers through a series of histories that for various reasons have been buried. Michael Pattinson of rogerebert.com says the film “accelerates through fourteen centuries with maximalist abandon”. The events of the film begin in 600 CE and about fifty-five minutes later we have arrived in 1985. From the dispossession of Native American land, the exile and murder of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, the dispelling of the French Icarian population, a set of mysterious fires rumored to be the result of the supernatural powers of a teenage girl, to the infamous murder of Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton, by the FBI and Chicago Police Department.
What all of the histories referenced in the film have in common is that they are all subaltern. These are histories of the dispossessed, extra-human forces, irrational events; in short, histories that resist historicization. Stratman approaches the complexities and mysteries of these stories through her use of sound. Across a long and varied practice, sound is a power that Stratman has consistently explored. This film is, to say the least, a unique sonic experience. Voice-overs are never accompanied by their talking bodies; instead, they speak over an enormous variety of archival footage, reenactments, and footage of signs and dioramas, diagrams and photographs. Music, often religious (a Bach oratorio, a Renaissance motet, and an astonishingly beautiful choral setting of the Credo by Estonian sacred music composer, Arvo Pärt, to name a few) burst forward from frequent silence. It is by some strange quality of the sound that the histories presented in the film feel so present, like they are unfolding again in the present in their own terms.
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | April 8, 2016
Thursday, April 14 | Join us for Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman for a screening and discussion!
For the last 25 years, has explored the landscape of our national history and psyche in riveting films, sculpture, sound, and public works. With the Illinois Parables, she turns her attention to the “American microcosm” and its storied past. Bracketed by sweeping aerial shots of the state’s ancient prairies and waterways, Stratman spins 11 tales of natural disaster, messianic devotion, technological breakthrough, government resistance, and unsolved mystery. Together, these stories ask how the systems of belief they represent have shaped how we see the land, ourselves, and our nation.
2016, USA, 16mm, 60 min + discussion
Deborah Stratman (Washington DC.) is a Chicago-based artist and filmmaker whose work investigates issues of power, control, and belief and explores how places, ideas, and society are intertwined. Recent projects have addressed freedom, expansionism, surveillance, sonic warfare, public speech, ghosts, sinkholes, levitation, propagation, orthoptera, raptors, comets and faith. She has exhibited internationally at venues including Museum of Modern Art, NY, Centre Pompidou, Hammer Museum, Mercer Union, Witte de With, the Whitney Biennial and festivals including Sundance, Viennale, CPH/DOX, Oberhausen, Ann Arbor, Full Frame and Rotterdam. Stratman is the recipient of an Alpert Award, Fulbright, Guggenheim and USA Collins Fellowships, and grants from Creative Capital, Graham Foundation, and Wexner Center for the Arts. She teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her BFA from SAIC in 1990 and her MFA from CalArts in 1995.
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | April 6, 2016
This week we are thrilled to welcome New York-based artist Dana Levy! We have chosen to show an interview with Levy that was published by BOMB Magazine. In this insightful interview, Levy sits down with New York curator and critic Naomi Lev where they discuss Levy’s practice in great depth.
NL Let’s go back some more, to 2008, to Silent Among Us. Tell us about the video and why you chose that title.
DL I brought one hundred live doves to fly around Beit Sturman Natural History Museum in Israel, which has a lot of taxidermy birds. I called it Silent Among Usbecause for me it was about how death, and history is very present in daily life in Israel. Death, as well as history, and the Bible are the foundation, or the excuse, for the country’s existence. The title Silent Among Us pays homage to this silent presence.
NL How did you bring the doves into the museum?
DL This was another weird project because I got the idea after going to La Specola Museum in Florence. I love natural history museums, especially when they are old and run down. I kept thinking I would love to bring live animals there because at the time I was photographing a lot of empty and abandoned houses for a series of works called Habitat (2008). I really wanted to introduce life into them, but, then again, I never thought any museum would allow me to do that. But I learned over the years that, if you have an idea, you can make it happen. Things can easily fall into place, if you do not give up. Then I heard that curator Yuval Kedar was organizing an exhibition in a natural history museum, a small one in the north of Israel. I immediately told him about my idea, and he helped me make it happen as a part of the show. The head of Kibbutz Ein Harod, where the museum is located, was the one who said that he liked this idea, so we did it!
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | April 1, 2016
Thursday, April 7 | Join us for New York–based artist Dana Levy for a screening and discussion!
Tel Aviv–born, New York–based artist Dana Levy is known for her symbolically resonant studies of art museums, natural history collections, and other sites of preservation. Her careful choreography meditates on the political and environmental histories that undergird their display, often highlighting processes of migration and displacement. She presents a selection of works shot at the Mazor Mausoleum archaeological site in Petah Tikva, Israel; Maison de l’Armateur in Le Havre, France; and Invertebrate Zoology department of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA, in addition to a series of new films created as part of a residency in the Everglades National Park. Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank.
2008–15, Israel/USA/France, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion
Dana Levy (Tel Aviv, Israel) uses video, video installation, and photography to investigate the domestication of nature, scientific classification mechanisms, and cataloguing. Her oeuvre explores the various ways that life is taken out of its natural context, uprooted from its surroundings, and assigned a place on shelves, display cabinets, or the walls of the museum. Levy received her MA in Electronic Imaging from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, Scotland and a BA from Camberwell College of Arts, London. She has had solo shows at the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Loop Art Fair, Barcelona; Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York City; Habres and Partner Gallery, Vienna; Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel, and more. She lives and works in New York.
Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | March 30, 2016
I’m here at the Black Film Center/Archive with emeritus professor Mike Henderson, noted and accomplished painter, blues guitarist, and experimental filmmaker, on the occasion of a retrospective showing of his experimental short films.
What I hope to discuss is your film practice and its relationship to your other artistic endeavors, painting and music. Let’s start, Mike, with this question: is your film work in conversation with your painting and social concerns?
First I would say that I’m a painter who makes films and plays blues guitar. Filmmaking came to me out of a need that was missing from my figurative painting. And it dates back to the moment and day when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.