April 18 – Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan: On Power and Play in Virtual Worlds

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | April 15, 2019

Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan in person

Marina Zurkow, still from Mesocosm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.

Critics Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan, winners of the 2018 Thoma Foundation Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art, engage in a wide-ranging conversation about the social and political dynamics embedded in virtual reality, games, digital art, and software design. Considering the work of Rachel Rossin, Ramsey Nasser, Jenova Chen, Hyphen-Labs, Porpentine, Lucia Grossberger-Morales, and Marina Zurkow, among others, the two pose critical questions about the ways new technologies interact with constructions of race, class, the self, and the other. Chan’s writing focuses on the sociopolitical implications of digital art. Flanagan is the author of the landmark book Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009), among many others.

1980–2018, various artists, multiple countries, multiple formats, ca 60 min followed by audience Q&A

Presented in partnership with the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation

Dawn Chan’s writing appears in The Atlantic (online), Bookforum, New York Times, NewYorker.com, New York Magazine, Paris Review, Village Voice, among other publications. She also frequently contributes to Artforum, where she was an editor from 2007 to 2018. Her work often focuses on the relationships between visual art, culture, identity, and technology. Currently a visiting scholar at New York University’s XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement, Chan has lectured at venues including the Guggenheim Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the recipient of a 2018 Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

Mary Flanagan is the author of the book Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009), co-author of Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) and Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri (2005), and co-editor of the collections Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (2003) and Re:Skin (2006). Her essays and articles have appeared in Art Against Art, Salon, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post. She is working on a series of popular and art press essays that look at the productive paradox of art games. Flanagan is also the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Tiltfactor.

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation is a pioneering collection of digital art that encompasses artistic innovations in custom-coded and algorithmic software, Internet-connected and real-time animation, early computer drawing, interactive technology, video installation, electronic sculpture, and works that utilize LED and LCD displays. The foundation initiated the Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art in 2015. This annual award grants a $40,000 award for an established arts writer in the United States who has made significant contributions to writing about digital art and a $20,000 award for an emerging arts writer in the United States who demonstrates great promise in writing about digital art. The foundation is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Chicago.

April 11 – Tabita Rezaire: Network Blossom

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | April 8, 2019

Tabita Rezaire in person

Tabita Rezaire, still from Premium Connect, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

French Guyana-based new media artist and energy worker Tabita Rezaire navigates power structures on and offline to pursue decolonial healing. Through performance, 3D animation, and screen interfaces, her work addresses the ongoing effects of colonialism and decenters occidental authority. She presents a trio of videos that reimagine technology, spirituality, and the erotic. The striking Sugar Walls Teardom (2016) considers the contribution of Black womxns’ wombs to the advancement of modern medical science and technology. Deep Down Tidal (2017) investigates the overlapping routes of undersea optic cables and colonial geography. Premium Connect (2017) finds connections between the organic, technological, and spiritual worlds through the exploration of African divination systems, the fungi underworld, ancestor communications, and quantum physics.

2016–17, Tabita Rezaire, South Africa, HD digital, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion

Tabita Rezaire’s cross-dimensional practice envisions network sciencesorganic, electronic and spiritualas healing technologies. Inspired by quantum and cosmic mechanics, Rezaire’s work is rooted in time-spaces where technology and spirituality intersect as fertile ground to nourish visions for connection and emancipation. She holds a Bachelor in Economics and a Master of Research in Moving Image from Central Saint Martins College (London). Rezaire is a founding member of NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and mother of the energy house SENEB. Rezaire has shown her work internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the New Museum, New York; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; National Gallery Denmark, Copenhagen; Tate Modern, London; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, New York; The Broad, Los Angeles; as well as the Guangzhou Triennial; Athens Biennale; Kochi-Muziris Biennale; Performa, New York; Karachi Biennale; and Berlin Biennale.

April 4 – Shards from the Mirror of History

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | April 1, 2019

Nicky Ni and Jennifer Lee in person

Hao Jingban, still from Little Dance, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.

Born under China’s one-child policy in the 1980s and raised amidst the country’s recent social and economic changes, China’s “lost” generation has gained a reputation for unprecedented individualism, ambition, and distinctive sense of humor. Curated by Nicky Ni, this program brings together a group of emerging Chinese artists whose work contemplates their unique connection to the greater cultural narratives and phenomena of China—from the emergence of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, to the country’s social and economic transformations in the last two decades. Through poetic reenactment, parodic performance, or punky intervention, featured artists Tao Hui, Hao Jingban, Yang Luzi, Yao Qingmei, Liu Yefu, Zhou Yan(MFA 2015), Jiū Society, among others, piece together fragmented individual and collective histories to make new meaning from the past.

2012–18, various artists, China/Monaco/Japan/USA, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion with curator Nicky Ni and Jennifer Lee, Assistant Professor in Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Nicky Ni is the curatorial assistant for Conversations at the Edge and a Master’s candidate in Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy at SAIC. She also works at SAIC’s Video Data Bank as a graduate distribution assistant. Previously, she has assisted with the exhibitions, Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat. (2017) and Whistler and Russel: Linked Visions (2015) at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ni has worked at the Hyde Park Art Center and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and was a graduate curatorial fellow at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries. She received her Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University.

March 28 – Disorienting Diasporas

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | March 25, 2019

Curators Nima Esmailpour and Jordan Arseneault in person   

2Fik, still from My Name is Ludmilla-Mary – Corpus Christi (TX), 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

Since 2006, the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project (QMDCQ) has worked to resuscitate a rich heritage of queer moving-image makers and their works. Curated by the QMDCQ in partnership with the Montréal-based collective Taklif: تکلیف, Disorienting Diasporas is a migrant mixtape par excellence. Spanning nearly two decades with stops in South Asia, the Middle East, and the Maghreb before passing through Canadian border controls, this program brings together work by Brown diasporic artists who elude the logic of either/or in favor of the neither/nor of unbelonging. In their play with media and expectations, these artists open the way to a lucid, radical, and unyielding reflection on the marginalized trajectories of Brown diasporas in Canada since the 1990s. Featuring works by Atif Siddiqi, Hejer Charf, Ari Nooranii, Kevin d’Souza, Farrah Khan, Sharif Waked, Fawzia Mirza, 2Fik, and Safiya Randera.

1998–2015, various artists, Canada, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion

Presented in partnership with the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project. Introduced by Nima Esmailpour from Taklif: تکلیف and Jordan Arseneault from the QMDCQ

The Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project aims to maintain a dynamic and interactive online catalogue of LGBTQ Canadian film, video, and digital works; their makers; and related institutions. The website, mediaqueer.ca is a bilingual online research and curatorial tool that provides researchers, students, artists, academics, curators, cinephiles, critics, and community members free access to a rich array of art historical and biographical information about queer moving image works from the 1930s to today.

Taklif : تکلیف is an imaginary space and a traveling library for radical imagination dedicated to learning, unlearning, and relearning practices through art and dialogue and an artist-run initiative formed with the ambition to rigorously bridge our intellectual activities with our emotional embodied intuitions, within and beyond institutional settings.

March 21 – Evan Meaney: We Will Love You Forever

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | March 18, 2019

Evan Meaney in person

Evan Meaney, image from ++ We Will Love You For Ever, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

Mixing humor and pathos, the work of new media artist and game designer Evan Meaney meditates on the transience of human experience and its representation in digital media. Meaney often uses corrupted and failing data as source material, exploring human efforts to collect and preserve in the face of entropy. He presents a selection of work from the past decade, including the video essay Big­_Sleep™ (2015), which juxtaposes the expansive yet deteriorating 20th-century archive of newsreel cameraman William Birch with Meaney and Amy Szczepanski’s Big­_Sleep™ Media Encoder—a program that conserves digital material, but makes it permanently inaccessible–and the virtual reality artwork ++We Will Love You Forever (2017), which reflects on the creative impulse and efforts to create archives of human code—digital and DNA—on the moon.

Evan Meaney, 2007–17, USA, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes plus discussion

Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank

Evan Meaney is an artist, game designer, and researcher who teaches new media practices at the University of South Carolina where he serves as head of the Media Arts program. Meaney has been an artist in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Experimental Television Center, a founding member of GLI.TC/H, a super juror for IndieCade, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Lab, and a contributor to the Atlantic. His creative works have found audiences all over the world, including International Film Festival Rotterdam, Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, and the US Library of Congress. Currently, Meaney is developing a number of personal projects while collaborating with a team of engineers on virtual reality applications for predictive maintenance. His time-based artworks are available through SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

March 7 – On Watching Men

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | March 4, 2019

Curator Rachael Rakes in person

Tracey Moffatt, still from Heaven, 1997. Courtesy of Women Make Movies.

Featuring works by Chick Strand, Tracey Moffatt, Yael Bartana and Jumana Manna, this program explores the subtleties of power relations and gender dynamics in observational film and media art. The artists turn their cameras on men, addressing and reversing conventional hierarchies, while also placing various manifestations of masculinity under experimental, quasi-anthropological study. In an introduction and post-screening discussion, curator Rachael Rakes will discuss these works in light of contemporary alternative ethnographies and consider masculinity as a construct in nonfiction artmaking.

1976-2010, various artists, multiple countries, multiple formats, ca 82 minutes followed by discussion

Rachael Rakes is the head curator and manager of the Curatorial Programme at De Appel in Amsterdam. She is also editor at large for Verso Books and programmer at large for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, where she co-curates the annual nonfiction-as-art festival Art of the Real. Rakes has recently contributed criticism to Art Agenda, Artforum, Village Voice, and Ocula, among other publications and catalogs, and has independently organized exhibitions and programs for A.I.R. Gallery, New York; ArtCenter/South Florida, Miami Beach, Florida; Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Knockdown Center, New York; International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, Sweden; and Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain. Her research focuses on the political and documentary potential of abstract aesthetics, maps that are not maps, and the question of whether ethnographic art can be salvaged from the legacies of colonialism and modernism.

February 28 – Morgan Fisher: Paintings, Photographs, Films

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | February 25, 2019

Morgan Fisher in person

Morgan Fisher, still from Another Movie, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Morgan Fisher, artist and filmmaker, will discuss his recent work in painting and photography, then present a selection of films, including Standard Gauge (1984) and the Chicago premiere of Another Movie (2017). Standard Gauge, a single take except for the titles, shows in close-up pieces of 35mm film (“standard gauge”) that Fisher collected during his time as an editor in Hollywood as he comments on them. Another Movie is a pendant to Bruce Conner’s found-footage classic, A Movie (1958). Another Movie uses all of Ottorino Respighi’s symphonic poem Pines of Rome (1924), which Conner’s film uses only part of, and includes a scene to illustrate the part of the music that Conner omitted. The long intervals of black elsewhere in the film let the viewer imagine the scenes that Respighi wanted his music to describe, but such is the power of Conner’s film that viewers may visualize scenes from it instead.

1970–2017, Morgan Fisher, USA, 16mm and HD digital, ca 75 minutes followed by discussion

Morgan Fisher is an artist, filmmaker, writer, and former teacher (California Institute of the Arts, University of California Los Angeles). Fisher received a BA in Fine Arts (Art History) from Harvard College before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s. There, he attended the University of Southern California and worked toward an MFA in Motion Pictures at the University of California Los Angeles. After ending his studies, Fisher worked briefly in the film industry. Fisher’s work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fonds regional d’art contemporain Ile-de-France, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Salzburg Museum der Moderne. In recent years, Fisher’s paintings have been exhibited at the Generali Foundation, Vienna; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany; Portikus-am-Main, Germany; and Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany. His work has been in three Whitney Biennials. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Fisher lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

February 21 – Laida Lertxundi: Landscape Plus

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | February 18, 2019

Laida Lertxundi in person

Laida Lertxundi, still from Words, Planets, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Blending conceptual rigor with sensuous pleasure, the films of Los-Angeles based artist Laida Lertxundi are seductive and self-reflexive explorations of place. She presents a suite of recent works produced through a process she refers to as “landscape plus,” which marries observational photography with music, actions, and chance events. In Vivir para Vivar (Live to Live) (2015), Lertxundi draws parallels between land and the body as sites of pleasure and experience. The autobiographical 025 Sunset Red (2016) links the Basque and Californian landscapes through the filmmaker’s upbringing by Spanish communists. Words, Planets (2018) mixes texts and readings with shots of domestic spaces and sun-drenched vistas to evoke the many ways lived experience transcends representation. Also screening: We Had the Experience but Missed the Meaning (2014), The Room Called Heaven (2012), and Cry When It Happens (2010).

2012–18, Laida Lertxundi, USA/Spain, 16mm, ca 60 minutes, followed by discussion

Laida Lertxundi was born in Bilbao, Spain, and works in Los Angeles. Her films have been exhibited and screened internationally, including LUX, London (2018); Katonah Museum of Art, New York (2018); Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Havana Biennial, Cuba (2015); Lofoten International Art Festival, Norway (2013); Lyon Biennale (2013); Whitney Biennial (2012); Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater, Los Angeles (2018); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); Tate Modern, London (2016); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2016); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, (2015); Museo de Arte Moderno, Medellin, Colombia (2015); New York Film Festival (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018); Edinburgh International Film Festival (2014); Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York (2014); PS1 MoMA (2013); Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2013); and Baltimore Museum of Art (2013). She teaches Film and Fine Art at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and is the chair of Filmmaking Studies at Elias Querejeta Zine Eskola’s master’s program in San Sebastian, Spain. Lertxundi received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from Bard College.

February 16 – The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years without Images

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | February 14, 2019

Eric Baudelaire, still from the The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and LUX.

Presented as a companion to Naeem Mohaiemen’s United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I), Eric Baudelaire’s The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years without Images explores the fractured biographies of Fusako Shigenobu, leader of the ultra-left Japanese Red Army (JRA) in Lebanon, her daughter May Shigenobu, and radical Japanese filmmaker Masao Adachi, who moved to Beirut to join the JRA in the early 1970s. Using Adachi’s “theory of landscape” (fukei-ron), which proposes that a nation’s landscape reflects the social and political systems in power, Baudelaire weaves together contemporary and archival images of Tokyo and Beirut with May Shigenobu and Adachi’s recollections of revolution, exile, and their eventual returns home.

2011, Eric Baudelaire, Japan/Lebanon, DCP, 66 minutes

Presented in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the exhibition Naeem Mohaiemen: Two Meetings and a Funeral

Eric Baudelaire lives and works in Paris. After training as a social scientist, Baudelaire established himself as a visual artist with a practice incorporating photography, printmaking, and video, often focused on social and historical research. His films have been featured in festivals around the world, including Marseille International Film Festival, Locarno Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and International Film Festival Rotterdam. He has been the subject of monographic exhibitions at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands; the Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; Beirut Art Center; Gasworks, London; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Baudelaire has participated in the Whitney Biennial (2017), Sharjah Biennials 12 and 13, and the Yokohama Triennale (2014). His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and M+, Hong Kong.

February 14 – Naeem Mohaiemen: United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I)

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | February 11, 2019

Naeem Mohaiemen in person

Naeem Mohaiemen, still from United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and LUX.

Naeem Mohaiemen uses films, photographs, and essays to explore the histories of failed utopias within the framework of international left-wing politics. In conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibition of the artist’s acclaimed three-channel installation Two Meetings and a Funeral, Mohaiemen presents United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I), which traces the events and aftermath of the Japanese Red Army’s (JRA) hijacking of Japan Airlines flight 472 in 1977. The JRA, which sought to unite the Third World through armed revolution, forced the plane to land in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and made its demands during a five-day standoff broadcast on television. Mohaiemen combines the original sound recordings of the hostage negotiations with text on black screen to underscore the event’s political and interpersonal tensions. At the same time, he recounts his own experience watching the television spectacle as an eight-year old boy and meditates on the event’s complex reverberations across the globe.

2011, Naeem Mohaiemen, Bangladesh/Japan, DCP, 70 minutes followed by discussion

Presented in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the exhibition Naeem Mohaiemen: Two Meetings and a Funeral

Naeem Mohaiemen is an artist and scholar. His work has shown at Tate Britain, London (2014),  Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece (2017); Mahmoud Darwish Foundation and Museum, Ramallah, Palestine (2017); MoMA, New York (2017); 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2014); and Sharjah Biennial 10, United Arab Emirates (2011) among many others. His essays have appeared in The Sun Never Sets: South Asian Migrants in an Age of U.S. Power (NYU Press); Assuming Boycott (OR Books); Occupy (B3 Verlag), and Sound Unbound (MIT Press) among others. He co-curated, with Lorenzo Fusi, System Error: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Palazzo Papesse, Siena, Italy. He was a 2014 Guggenheim fellow and a 2018 Turner Prize nominee.

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    Conversations at the Edge is a weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists.


    CATE is organized by SAIC's Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC's Video Data Bank, Conversations at the Edge is a dynamic weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists.


    Programs take place Thursdays at 6pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State / Chicago, IL / 312.846.2600), unless otherwise noted.