Thursday, October 12

Jim Trainor: The Pink Egg

Jim Trainor, still from The Pink Egg (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Featuring his trademark dark comedy and fascination with the natural world, Chicago-based animator Jim Trainor explores the complex and curious lives of insects in his first live-action feature. Casting humans in the starring roles, The Pink Egg follows life-cycles of “The Seven Sisters,” a group of evolutionarily related wasps and bees. Unitard costumes and candy-colored props set the stage for the feeding, mating, and hunting rituals of a civilization as successful as our own, yet founded on utterly alien principles. The narrative advances without dialogue or narration, leaving the audience to puzzle out its mysterious goings-on, evoking a Mother Nature who keeps her cards close to her chest.

2016, USA, digital file, 71 min + discussion

Jim Trainor in person

Jim Trainor (b. New York) is a filmmaker and animator based in Chicago. His films explore the grim and realistic habits of animals in their natural habitats, illustrating the divide between bestial instinct and human emotion and logic. His films have screened at the Whitney Biennial, New York; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Chicago Filmmakers; Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; New York Animation Festival; Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California; Nashville Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands; Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece; Golden Horse Festival, Taiwan; and La Xina A.R.T., Barcelona. He has received awards from numerous film festivals, including San Francisco International; Black Marial; New York Underground; Cinematexas; Big Muddy; and the Ann Arbor. Trainor is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at SAIC.

Thursday, October 19

The Real-Fake

AES+F, still from The Feast of Trimalchio, 2010. Image courtesy of the artists.

In an epoch defined by avatars, reality bubbles, and the rapid spread of alt-facts, the role of computer simulation technologies and the parallel worlds they produce take on new dimensions. Curated by Claudia Hart, Rachel Clarke, and Pat Reynolds, The Real-Fake brings together 23 artists working with 3D simulation tools to produce a new esthetic and ethic of the fake. For example, the Russian collective AES+F turns geopolitical hierarchies upside down in an uncanny digital trompe l’oeil; Moreshin Allahyari creates an imaginary space to explore the communication breakdowns caused by limitations to Internet access; and the avatar and virtual artist LaTurbo Avedon explores the Internet’s physical manifestations in a new work commissioned for this show. This program is part of a much larger and ongoing project, including additional screenings, gallery exhibitions, and writing. Hart and Clarke will introduce the program and be joined by Avedon for a discussion afterward.

2006–17, multiple artists, multiple countries, digital file, ca 80 min + discussion

Artist LaTurbo Avedon and curators Rachel Clarke and Claudia Hart in person

Claudia Hart (b. New York) has been active as an artist, curator, and critic since 1988. She works with digital trompe l’oeil as a medium, directing theater and making media objects of all kinds. Hart’s works deal with issues of representation, identity, and the natural, and her project is to de-masculinize the culture of corporate technology by inserting the irrational and the personal into the slick, overly-determined Cartesian world of digital design. She is widely exhibited and collected by galleries and museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the New Museum, and Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology in New York, where she was an honorary fellow in 2013–14. She is a Professor of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at SAIC.

Rachel Clarke (b. Shropshire, United Kingdom) is an artist and professor of new media and digital art at California State University, Sacramento. Her work intertwines themes of nature, culture, and technology. Combining physical and virtual modes of making, it involves video and animation, installation, augmented reality, and experimental 3D. She has shown at ISEA in Vancouver, Canada; Another Year in LA; Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria; Aggregate Space in Oakland, California; WORK Detroit; and Currents International Festival of New Media in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Clarke serves on the board of the College Art Association’s New Media Caucus and is the founding editor of its international journal, Media-N.

LaTurbo Avedon (b. Internet) is an avatar and artist originating in virtual space. Their work emphasizes the practice of non-physical identity and authorship. Many of the works can be described as research into dimensions, deconstructions, and the explosion of forms, exploring topics of virtual authorship and the physicality of the Internet.Their works are regularly distributed online, and have been exhibited internationally–including Somerset House, London; transmediale, Berlin; Mutek Festival, Montreal; NRW Forum, Düsseldorf; DEF CON Hacking Conference, Las Vegas; Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt; Transfer Gallery, New York; Jean Albano Gallery, Chicago; and Galeries Lafayette, Paris. LaTurbo is currently an artist resident at Somerset House Studios.

Thursday, October 26

Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder: Tense Nature:
The Changeover System
with sound artist Brian Case

Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder. Image courtesy of the artists.

Known for performances that transform films into stunning sculptures of light, New York-based artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder return to Chicago with their latest live work. The piece unites the Gene Siskel Film Center’s two theaters by cycling the reels of one feature-length film through each of its four 35mm projectors. The artists introduce glassware and other diffracting media to bend, scatter, distort, and redefine the film’s image. Joined by Chicago-based musician Brian Case, who builds darkly ambient soundscapes from stuttered tape loops and layered lock grooves, the three guide the audience between the two spaces to produce a spectral montage in three dimensions.

Presented in collaboration with Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

2017, USA, live performance, ca 60 min + discussion

Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, and Brian Case in person

Collaborators since 2000, Sandra Gibson (b. Portland, Oregon) and Luis Recoder (b. San Francisco, California) unite the rich traditions of the experimental film, particularly its structuralist and materialist strands, and the multimodal sensibility of expanded cinema that emerged in the 1960s. Their body of work explores this interstice between avant-garde film practice and the incorporation of moving images and time-based media into the museum and art gallery. Based in New York, Gibson and Recoder have exhibited and performed internationally at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Toronto International Film Festival; Tate Modern in London; Viennale, Vienna; International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands; Nam June Paik Art Center in Yongin, South Korea; Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan; and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

Brian Case (b. St. Louis, MO) is an artist and musician based in Chicago. He has been involved with the groups 90 Day Men, The Ponys, and the Disappears. His most recent band, FACS, uses minimalism and space to create abstract and modern art rock. His solo efforts (Tense Nature, 2016 and Spirit Design, 2017) range from ambient compositions of rhythm and space to hypnotic beat-driven tracks.

Thursday, November 2

Alex Gerbaulet: Digging Deep

Alexandra Gerbaulet, still from SCHICHT (Shift), 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alluring and enigmatic, the films of German artist Alex Gerbaulet unearth the complex narratives hidden within personally and collectively repressed memory. Utilizing both archival material and footage filmed by the artist herself, Gerbaulet’s documentaries bridge the gap between analysis and poetry. Buildings, space, and the body serve as sites that bear witness to past crime and trauma. Questioning voiceovers dissolve the idyllic facades of these structures, as her films examine the consequences of passively forgetting. Through political and biographical frameworks, Gerbaulet quietly confronts the lingering vestiges of a problematic history. The program features Gerbaulet’s recent films Schicht (2015) and Depth of Field (2017), followed by Tattooed Prisoners (2007) and Datterode (2005).

Presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Chicago.

2005-17, Germany, multiple formats, ca 65 min + discussion

Alex Gerbaulet in person

Alex Gerbaulet (b. Salzgitter, Germany) is a German artist, filmmaker, and curator who studied Philosophy, Media Science, and Visual Arts in Brunswick and Vienna. She is the recipient of a 2008 scholarship by Hans-Bockler-Stiftung, a 2012 scholarship by the city of Berlin, and a 2014 grant from Art- und Culture-Foundation Stade (Germany). In 2011, Gerbaulet was selected for Berlinale Talent Campus DOK Station. Since 2014, she has worked as a producer for Pong Film GmbH in Berlin where she currently resides.

Thursday, November 9

The Films of Ana Mendieta

Ana Mendieta, still from Butterfly, 1975. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

The late Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta forged a radical practice that explored primal themes of displacement, the body, violence, and transformation. Known mostly for her earthworks, photographs, and performances, Mendieta also created numerous short films. With these works, she both captured her ephemeral performances and further transformed them through trick photography, staging, or video synthesis. In Silueta Sangrienta (1975) the artist’s body is suddenly replaced with a pool of blood; in Butterfly (1975) the artist’s body morphs and pulsates with the electrons of a video monitor. Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, film archivist for The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, presents a selection of these films, many which have been recently rediscovered and restored. The program will be followed by a discussion with Cecilia and scholar Rachel Weiss.

1971-81, USA, digital file, ca 60 min + discussion

Scholar Rachel Weiss and The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection film archivist Raquel Cecilia in person

Ana Mendieta (b. 1948, Havana, Cuba–1985, New York) created groundbreaking work in photography, performance, film, video, drawing, sculpture, and site-specific installations. Mendieta’s work has been the subject of six major museum retrospectives, the most recent of which, Ana Mendieta: Traces, was organized by the Hayward Gallery, England, in 2013, and travelled to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, and the Galerie Rudolfinum, Czech Republic. Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972–1985 was organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, in 2005 and traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; and Miami Art Museum, Florida.

Thursday, November 16

Sondra Perry: Performance and Video

Sondra Perry, still from Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation: Number One, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Mixing personal history and pop culture, New York-based artist Sondra Perry savvily dissects power relations that shape Black identity and representation. Her performances and multimedia works use video games, glitchy 3D avatars, and computer desktop windows to express and explode biases built into the code of everyday life. In the video-performance Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation: Number One (2015-17), she layers footage of family members acting out real and fabricated familial lore, inviting audiences to consider the shifting and mutable threads of identity in the digital age. While, in IT’S IN THE GAME ‘17 or Mirror Gag for Vitrine and Projection (2017), she focuses on her brother—who, as an NCAA college basketball player had his likeness used without compensation in popular video games—and contemplates the ways images of Black men and women have long been exploited for profit and prestige.

2015-17, USA, live performance and digital file, ca 65 min + discussion

Sondra Perry in person

Sondra Perry (b. New Jersey) is an interdisciplinary artist whose videos and performances foreground the tools of digital production as a way to critically reflect on new technologies of representation and to remobilize their potential. Perry has had multiple solo exhibitions, including at THE KITCHEN, for her work Resident Evil. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1 in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Perry was recently awarded the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize for a solo show at the Seattle Art Museum. She has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, Ox-Bow, the Experimental Television Center, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as a CORE artist-in-residence. She received her MFA from Columbia University and BFA from Alfred University.

Thursday, November 30

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Coco Fusco has had to postpone her screening and appearance at Conversations at the Edge. She will return in an upcoming season.

Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits

Coco Fusco, still from La confesión (2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

For more than 30 years interdisciplinary artist Coco Fusco has explored notions of race, identity, and power through video and performance. In recent years Fusco has examined a number of legendary stories that lack pictorial representation due to institutional censorship or an absence of governmental documentation. She presents two intimate artist portraits centered on concepts of the body, state control, and expurgation, investigating their effects on artistic production and political discourse in Cuba. Both created in 2015, La confesión explores the public confession of poet and accused counterrevolutionary Heberto Padilla, while La botella al mar de Maria Elena focuses on the state intimidation of political reformer Maria Elena Cruz Varela. These portraits examine the relationship of art and artists to our contemporary political moment while charting a legacy of regime power and control of information.

Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank.

2015, Cuba / USA, multiple formats, ca 65 min + discussion

Coco Fusco in person

Coco Fusco (b. New York City) is a Cuban-American interdisciplinary artist and writer. She is the Andrew Banks Endowed Professor of Art at the University of Florida and the recipient of several fellowships and awards, such as a 2014 Cintas Fellowship, 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, 2012 US Artists Fellowship, and a 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco’s performances and videos have been presented in the 56th Venice Biennale, two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the Biennale of Sydney, Johannesburg Biennale, Kwangju Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, InSite O5, Mercosul, Transmediale, London International Theatre Festival, VideoBrasil, and Performa05. Her works have also been shown at the Tate Liverpool; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York.