On Lyra Hill

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, remember (2016) at Conversations at the Edge 2016. Photo by Camarri Lane.

Lyra Hill, remember (2016) at Conversations at the Edge 2016. Photo by Camarri Lane.

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.

Lyra Hill, Cat Tongue, performance at Conversations at the Edge 2016. Photo by Camarri Lane.

Lyra Hill, Cat Tongue, performance at Conversations at the Edge 2016. Photo by Camarri Lane.

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.

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April 21-Lyra Hill: Three Performances

Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | April 15, 2016

Thursday, April 21 | Join us for Chicago based artist and curator Lyra Hill!

Lyra Hill, still from Cat Tongue, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist and the Video Data Bank

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.

Lyra Hill Program Notes

On Deborah Stratman

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. 

Deborah Stratman, still from The Illinois Parables, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist

Deborah Stratman, still from The Illinois Parables, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist

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.

Deborah Stratman, still from The Illinois Parables, 2016.

Deborah Stratman, still from The Illinois Parables, 2016.

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.

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April 14-Deborah Stratman: The Illinois Parables

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!

Deborah Stratman, still from The Illinois Parables, 2016.

Deborah Stratman, still from The Illinois Parables, 2016.

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.

On Dana Levy

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. 

Disengagement, 2005, still from single-channel vertical video.

Disengagement, 2005, still from single-channel vertical video.

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?


Silent Among Us, 2008, still from single-channel video.

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!

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April 7-Dana Levy: Impermanent Display

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!

Dana Levy, still from Everglades, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and the Video Data Bank

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.

Dana Levy Program Notes

On Mike Henderson

Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | March 30, 2016

Courtesy of a screening presented by Haines Gallery partnered with the Exploratorium.

Courtesy of a screening presented by Haines Gallery partnered with the Exploratorium, 2014.

This week we are excerpting this important interview with Mike Henderson in Black Camera which thoroughly investigates Henderson’s extensive body of work over his artistic career! 

Mike Henderson, still from Down Hear, 1972. Image courtesy of the artist and the Academy Film Archive

Mike Henderson, still from Down Hear, 1972. Image courtesy of the artist and the Academy Film Archive

Michael T. Martin:

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?

Mike Henderson:

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.

Pitchfork-and-the-Devil-wpcf_320x240

Courtesy of San Francisco Cinematheque, 2014.

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March 31-Down Hear: The Films of Mike Henderson

Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | March 18, 2016

Thursday, March 31 | Join us for San Francisco–based artist and musician Mike Henderson for a screening and discussion!

Mike Henderson, still from Down Hear, 1972. Image courtesy of the artist and the Academy Film Archive

Best known as a painter and blues guitarist, San Francisco–based artist Mike Henderson produced a remarkable body of experimental and performance-driven films starting in the mid 1960s through the 1980s. Politically charged and often wickedly funny, Henderson’s productions range from improvisational compositions and absurd musings to powerful “talking blues films” about blackness and black experience. Henderson presents a program from across his two decades with the medium, including the hilarious and conceptually pointedDufus (1970/1973) and powerful Down Hear (1972), which tells the history of slave shipping through a charged performance by Henderson and his brother Raymond. Restored prints courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

1970–83, USA, 16mm, ca 75 min + discussion

Mike Henderson (Marshall, MO) moved to California in the mid 1960s to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, the first racially integrated art school in the United States, where he received his BFA in 1969 and MFA in 1970. Henderson received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973 and is a two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Award. His paintings have been exhibited throughout the US, including at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), and the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA). Henderson is an an accomplished blues guitarist and has performed at music halls and festivals around the world. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis. He lives and works in San Leandro.

Mike Henderson Program Notes

March 17-shawné michaelain holloway: Extreme Submission

Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | March 11, 2016

Thursday, March 17 | Join us to welcome dirty new media performance artist shawné michaelain holloway for a screening and discussion!

shawné michaelain holloway (SAIC 2013), still from nothing_fucking_matters_II: cuter on the internet.mp4, 2014). Image courtesy of the artist

In the last four years, Paris-based dirty new media performance artist shawné michaelain holloway has established herself as one of the most significant voices online. Her rhizomatic projects explore intimacy, power dynamics, and the technologies that mediate them, taking shape as serialized live Internet broadcasts, video art uploaded to pornographic platforms, GIFs, and electronic music. She returns to Chicago to debut a series of works that examines the role and socio-political implications of video and text (or “slow-media”) in meaningful intimate encounters, self-care, and instruction-based performance.

2015–16, France, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion

shawné michaelain holloway (Chicago, IL) is a dirty new media performance artist living in Paris, France. Her work explores the “real life” cultural and economic implications of performing identity for online social networking sites. Her projects and performances are exhibited internationally. She also is a participating curator at festivals and conferences including reFreg Festival (Paris) and gli.tc/h 2012 (Chicago). She received her BFA from SAIC in 2013.

On Nobuaki Doi

Posted by | Ziva Schatz | Posted on | March 9, 2016

This week I am delighted to welcome graduate student Kelsey Velez to write for us! Velez reflects on the work of Japanese curator and scholar Nobuaki Doi. 

Photo by Gottingham. Courtesy from New Deer.

Photo by Gottingham. Courtesy from New Deer.

As a curator and scholar, Nobuaki Doi’s work facilitates the continuing legacy of animation in Japan—a legacy that stretches back as far as the 1910s. He got his start as an animation critic, after seeing the works of Yuri Norstein in school.  He went on to co-found the pioneering independent Japanese animation label CALF with filmmakers Kei Oyama, Atsushi Wada ,and Mirai Mizue and more recently, the NewDeer label. In addition to his scholarly and curatorial work, he is also a scriptwriter and festival director for the New Chitose Airport International Animation Festival and Georama.  Doi’s multiple projects provide a platform for independent animators to establish their names and gain exposure while also providing a context that links them to the legacies of Japanese animation.

Still from Moonlit Night & Opal (2015, ShiShi Yamazaki, 4min).

Still from Moonlit Night & Opal (2015, ShiShi Yamazaki, 4min).

Prior to CALF, there were relatively few outlets for Japanese independent animators to show their work outside of the festival circuit. While independent animation has circulated theatrically and for home viewing in Europe and the US since the 1970s, the circulation of independent Japanese animation is a relatively recent phenomenon. Given the accessibility of work through the Internet, a distribution project like this might seem pointless, but that would be overlooking the crucial context Doi’s curatorship provides. The artists he works with and his scholarly writing provide new ways of seeing and understanding this vanguard body of work.

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