Conversations at the Edge

April 24 – Basma Alsharif: Doppelgänging

Posted on | April 17, 2014 | Comments Off

Thursday, April 24 | Basma Alsharif in person!

Still from Deep Sleep (Basma Alsharif, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Deep Sleep (Basma Alsharif, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Basma Alsharif’s sharp, seductive films have often been informed by Palestine’s history, its contemporary political situation, and the conflicted experiences of those who call it home (whether or not they live there). She returns to CATE with a collection of recent films that explore bilocation—the act of being in multiple places at once—a state of being she uses to describe Palestinian identity, as well as cinema itself. The program offers the possibility of bilocating through the visceral experience of drone-glitched TV and teenage cello lessons in Home Movies Gaza (2013); a rhyming exercise in the Panathenaic Stadium in Girls Only (2014); a stroboscopic oral history in Farther Than the Eye Can See (2012); and a hypnosis-inducing pan-geographic shuttle in Deep Sleep (2014), a film/performance. Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank.

April 17 – Thom Andersen: Reconversão

Posted on | April 11, 2014 | Comments Off

Thursday, April 17 | Tom Andersen in person!

Still from Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012). Courtesy of the artist.

A master of the essay film, Thom Andersen turns his attention to the work of the Pritzker Prize–winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. Considering built, unrealized, and abandoned projects and using a stop-motion technique that emphasizes the temporal dimension of architecture, Reconversão (2012) regards buildings not as static objects but living things, subject to decay, death, and even rebirth. (Museum of the Moving Image)

Thom Andersen (b. 1943, Chicago) is a filmmaker, curator, and scholar based in Los Angeles where he currently teaches film composition at the California Institute of the Arts.  Anderson has made numerous short films including Melting (1965), Olivia’s Place (1966) and — ——- (1967, in collaboration with Malcolm Brodwick).  In 2003 he completed Los Angeles Plays Itself, a videotape about the representation of Los Angeles in movies.

 

Interview with Sven Augustijnen

Posted on | April 10, 2014 | Comments Off

Filmmaker Sven Augustijnen sat down with CATE Program Assistant George William Price to discuss his multifaceted artistic practice within the context of his film “Spectres”,  screened at CATE on April 4, 2014.  

Augustijnen’s work concentrates on the tradition of portraiture and the porous boundaries between fiction and reality, using a hybrid of genres and techniques to interrogate how contemporary reality is constructed through various fictions and narratives.

“Spectres” (2011) focuses a critical eye on the official account of the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first elected Prime Minister post European colonial rule.

George William Price:  What drew you to this particular project?  Why do you feel it was important to investigate this set of histories within Spectres?

Sven Augustijnen:  My practice comes mainly from observations.  I live in Brussels, a town that is very marked by its colonial history and I feel interested in the public space and what’s going on there — the people etcetera.

Somehow the project came to me, although I knew it was impossible.  That you shouldn’t do this, you know, there is an attraction also to this project.

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

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April 10 – Everything is Terrible! Doggie Woggiez and More

Posted on | April 3, 2014 | Comments Off

Thursday, April 10 | Commodore Gilgamesh and Ghoul Skool in person!

Courtesy of EIT!

Courtesy of EIT!

“If everything is terrible, then nothing is” is the motto of this filmmaking collective, whose pseudonym-loving members make rapid-fire mash-ups from VHS tapes found in thrift stores—forgotten children’s shows, religious sermons, no-budget monster movies—to explore the weirdest corners of the American psyche. Leaving little time for reflection, only total submission, its cinema is a kind of psychedelic food poisoning, equally abrasive and hilarious and, in the end, oddly affectionate toward its varied subjects. Everything is Terrible!presents several shorts and its feature-length masterwork Doggie Woggiez! Poochie Woochiez! (2012)—a remake of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountainwith a cast of cinematic canines.

Founded in 2006, Everything is Terrible! (EIT!) is an anonymous video collective dedicated to unearthing the best and worst ever committed to VHS. EIT! mines thrift stores and bargain bins for old VHS tapes and gives them new life in video compilations, live shows, and the group’s website. EIT!’s work has been hailed by Wired, Time, The Onion, Chicago Tribune, NPR’s All Things Considered, BoingBoing, Buzzfeed, Videogum, Paste, and Jezebel.

Interview with Christiane Paul

Posted on | March 29, 2014 | Comments Off

Curator and academic Christiane Paul sat down with CATE Program Assistant George William Price to discuss her research and curatorial practice centered around New Media.  Paul presented a multimedia talk “Genealogies of the New Aesthetic” at CATE on March 27, 2014.  

Christiane Paul (b. 1961, Attendorn, Germany) is Associate Professor at the School of Media Studies, The New School, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has written extensively on new media arts and lectured internationally on art and technology.

George William Price:  So Christiane how did you become interested in tracing the genealogy of the New Aesthetic?  What was so intriguing to you about this particular project?

Christiane Paul: I’ve been thinking and writing about the aesthetics of digital media for quite some time.  To me it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the reception of new media.  I’m working at the Whitney Museum and one of the problems I encounter constantly, occasionally with my colleagues at the museum and often with mainstream audiences, is a lack of understanding of the aesthetics of the medium. I’m very invested in changing that and when the New Aesthetic appeared and took off I was just struck by the fact of how blurry an image of aesthetics it represents.

The New Aesthetic is a ghost of an image. It is a degradation but at the same time very valuable because it says something about its own condition.  To me the achievement of the New Aesthetic and perhaps the reason why it became such a meme is that it really captures something important about aesthetics right now.  But it fails and is not very helpful when it comes to actually creating a framework for an in-depth understanding of aesthetics.  That is one of the reasons why Malcolm Levy and I decided to look at genealogies of that New Aesthetic; many aspects of the New Aesthetic of course have a fifty-year history.

To me the current discussions surrounding post-digital, post-Internet, post-medium work are really closely related to the New Aesthetic because they struggle with some of the same issues, particularly the relationship between networked technologies and the object.  All of these terms ultimately describe projects that are deeply influenced by digital technologies on various levels but do not necessarily take a digital form, existing as software and hardware.  They manifest as paintings or as sculptures but could not be understood without a deeper level of knowledge of digital technologies and their aesthetics.

Image from Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth.  http://www.postcards-from-google-earth.com/

Image from Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth. http://www.postcards-from-google-earth.com/

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April 3 – Sven Augustijnen: Spectres

Posted on | March 27, 2014 | Comments Off

Thursday, April 3 | Sven Augustijnen in person!

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

Confronting the authorized version of an atrocity committed during the early days of post-colonial African rule, Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres (2011) focuses a critical eye on the official account of the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first elected Prime Minister. The film begins a half-century later as the filmmaker sets off in the company of an amiable former Belgian civil servant-turned-historian on a journey in which the political soon becomes personal and standard notions of historical evidence begin to veer into Errol Morris terrain.Spectres vividly demonstrates that reconciliation always begins by uncovering the truth.

Sven Augustijnen (b. 1970, Mechelen, Belgium) studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Hoger Sint-Lukas Instituut in Brussels, and at theJan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. His work concentrates mainly on the tradition of portraiture and the porous boundaries between fiction and reality, using a hybrid of genres and techniques to disorienting effect. His films have been included in exhibitions and festivals in Athens, Basel, Fribourg, San Sebastián, Siegen, Rotterdam, Tunis, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, and Vilnius, among others. In 2011 he received the Evens Prize for Visual Arts. Augustijnen lives and works in Brussels.

March 27 – Christiane Paul: Genealogies of the New Aesthetic

Posted on | March 24, 2014 | Comments Off

Thursday, March 27, 6 p.m. | Christiane Paul in person!

Image from Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth.  http://www.postcards-from-google-earth.com/

Image from Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth. http://www.postcards-from-google-earth.com/

Curator and scholar Christiane Paul presents a multimedia talk on the“Genealogies of the New Aesthetic.” Identified as such by the British artist and programmer James Bridle, the New Aesthetic began as a Tumblr devoted to new modes of technologically enabled imaging and exploded into a meme dissected by critics from Wired, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair. Taking Bridle’s Tumblr as her starting point — a collage of corruption artifacts, 8-bit imagery, information visualization, and more — Paul (using research conducted in collaboration with Malcolm Levy) traces the histories of each to create a lineage for practices, artifacts, and their aesthetics.

Christiane Paul (b. 1961, Attendorn, Germany) is Associate Professor at theSchool of Media Studies, The New School, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has written extensively on new media arts and lectured internationally on art and technology. As Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art, she curated several exhibitions — including Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools (2011),Profiling (2007), Data Dynamics (2001) and artport, the Whitney Museum’s website devoted to Internet art.

 

CATE Spring 2014 Season

Posted on | January 21, 2014 | Comments Off

Still from Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012). Courtesy of the artist.

We are thrilled to announce the Spring 2014 Season of Conversations at the Edge (CATE).  This season will be opening with a multimedia talk on the “Genealogies of the New Aesthetic” by Christiane Paul on March 27th

Also lined up this season is Sven Augustijnen‘s Spectres (4/3) a film essay that presents a controversial view of Belgium’s colonial past and questions how a country or individual engages with their colonial past.

On April 10th CATE welcomes Everything is Terrible! to the Gene Siskel Film Center.  This anonymous video collective mine thrift stores and bargain bins to unearth the best and worst ever committed to VHS.  The collective will be presenting several short found footage works along with the feature length work Doggie Woggiez!  Poochie Woochiez!

Thom Andersen (4/17) will be presenting Reconversão a film that considers the built, unrealized, and abandoned projects of Pritzker Prize-winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura.

Finally Basma Alsharif returns to CATE (4/24) with a collection of recent films that explore bilocation—the act of being in multiple places at once—a state of being she uses to describe Palestinian identity, as well as cinema itself.

We look forward to seeing you at CATE this season.  In the meantime you can check out the line up, read more about the artists and their works and join the Facebook events here.

 

Interview with Tirtza Even

Posted on | November 12, 2013 | Comments Off

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Could you tell us a little bit about the piece you’ll be screening for Conversations at the Edge this fall?

Natural Life is a project I began working on in the winter of 2011, a few months after I arrived to Chicago. The piece focuses on the stories of five individuals who were sentenced to life without parole (natural life) for crimes they committed as youth. The degree of responsibility for the crimes they were charged with varies from merely being in a room with an adult who committed a murder, to being accused of partaking in a premeditated act of killing. None of them, however, will ever be evaluated for change, difference, or growth. They will remain in prison till they die.

I tell the stories from multiple angles, from that of the legal experts and law enforcement officials, through family members of the inmates and relatives of victims of similar crimes. My goal is to examine context as activating and revealing change and difference – synchronically, through simultaneous yet incongruent views on similar acts or events, and diachronically, by allowing positions and phrases to mutate and flip meaning, as in a pun, when transitioning between stories.

This is done first and foremost through the literal device of a split screen. The voices, thus, are always interpreted through more than one view: older and younger, black and white, victim and perpetrator, police and convict, inside prison and outside it. The meaning of each of the two sides of the screen, however, mutates and alters. Difference is the only constant.

My hope is to depict change as inevitable, and difference as structural. And in that way, challenge the underlying presumption of permanence and sameness that the sentence of life-without-parole for juveniles claims and imposes.

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

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November 14 – Tirtza Even: Natural Life

Posted on | November 8, 2013 | Comments Off

Thursday, November 14, 6 p.m. | Special preview screeningTirtza Even in person! 

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Natural Life (Tirtza Even, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

For more than 15 years, video artist and documentary filmmaker Tirtza Even has created a body of work that addresses an array of complex social and political issues in Palestine, Turkey, Spain, Germany, and the US. She presents a special preview of her latest project, Natural Life, a feature-length documentary about six individuals who, as youths, received the most severe sentence given to convicted adults—“natural life” or life without parole. Pairing interviews with inmates and those involved in their cases (family members, attorneys, police officers, and victims) with documented and staged scenes, Even’s film is an elegant and unflinching challenge to the inequities of the juvenile justice system.

2013, USA, digital file, 85 min + discussion

TIRTZA EVEN (b.1963, Jerusalem) is a video artist and documentary filmmaker based in Chicago. Her work has appeared widely at international festivals, galleries and museums including the Whitney Biennial and the Johannesburg Biennial, and is in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Jewish Museum, New York; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; among others. She is an Associate Professor in SAIC’s Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department.

Natural Life was produced alongside and with the support of the legal efforts of the Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle.

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