Thursday, February 9

Rikurō Miyai’s Expanded Cinema

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room
Modern Wing Entrance, 158 East Monroe Street

Still from Phenomenology of Zeitgeist (Jidai seishin no genshégaku) (Rikurō Miyai , 1967). Image courtesy of the artist.

Rikurō Miyai, still from Phenomenology of Zeitgeist, 1967. Image courtesy of the artist.

Free, registration required (see saic.edu/cate for details)

A central figure in Japan’s 1960s underground, Rikurō Miyai’s expansive, pop-infused practice spans filmmaking, art criticism, design, and television. In this rare US appearance, he presents two of his best-known works of expanded cinema. In the double-projected Phenomenology of Zeitgeist (1967), Miyai layers ghostlike footage of unauthorized street performances in the Shinjuko district of Tokyo with color filters and lights. In Shadow (1968), he projects two films of his own shadow walking outdoors side-by-side—one positive, one negative—each a reflection of the other. The Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and media artist Tatsu Aoki (BFA 1983, MFA 1985) joins Miyai for this special appearance, performing with his group Reduction Ensemble, featuring cellist Jamie Kempkers, guitarist Ramy Atassi, percussionist KIOTO, and Edward Wilkerson on woodwind.

Curated with Go Hirasawa and Julian Ross and presented in collaboration with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago in conjunction with the exhibition Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–75.

1967–2017, Japan/USA, 16mm, video, live performance and music, ca 60 min.

Rikurō Miyai is a filmmaker and critic. He studied film through the Association of Documentary Filmmakers while a student at Waseda University. Influenced by Andy Warhol and Japan’s 1960s “shadow debate,” about the growing indistinguishability between object and its image, Miyai turned toward increasingly complicated expanded cinema and environmental works, playing an important role in the development of Japanese intermedia. In addition to his expanded cinema works, he worked as a model, served as a critic for the journals Eizō Geijutsu and Kikan Firumu, advised on television programs and magazines, designed discotheques and headed Unit Productions, an independent film company set up in his apartment in Shinjuku.

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, and a filmmaker and educator. He has produced more than 30 experimental films and is one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, having contributed more than 90 recording projects and touring internationally during the last 25 years. In the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms. In the same period, he began making small-gauge and experimental films. In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo to study experimental filmmaking at SAIC. In 2001, the Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award for his contribution to Chicago-area arts. In 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the “Living in our Culture” award by the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and Jazz Heroes’ Award by National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015. In 2016, his Miyumi Project ensemble was chosen as the official musical presenters for the unveiling of Yoko Ono’s first permanent installation in North America, Sky Landing, in Chicago’s Jackson Park. The group also recorded the album Sky Landing, produced by Yoko Ono. Aoki is Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at SAIC and a visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and president of San Francisco–based Asian Improv Records (AIR).

Thursday, February 16

Against Ethnography

Still from Raccaya Umasi (Vicente Cueto, Peru, 2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

Vicente Cueto, still from Raccaya Umasi, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Curated by Federico Windhausen, this revealing program of contemporary videos from Latin America charts the limits of communication between indigenous and nonindigenous worlds. Vincent Carelli and Dominique Gallois’ Meeting Ancestors / A arca dos Zo’é (Brazil, 1993) follows an Amazonian tribal leader who makes videotapes to share stories about the past and dangers of encroaching development. Vicente Cueto records villagers identifying the recently unearthed clothing of victims of Peru’s 1980s internal armed conflict in Raccaya Umasi (Peru, 2015). And, in the elegiac Contornos (Peru, 2014), Ximena Garrido-Lecca meditates on the loss of history and geography in the Andean mining city of Cerro de Pasco. Also on the program are Bilingüe (Leticia Obeid, Argentina, 2013) and Tropic Pocket (Camilo Restrepo, Colombia, 2011). Spanish, Portuguese, Wichí, and Tupi with English subtitles.

1993–2015, Argentina/Brazil/Colombia/Peru, multiple directors, multiple formats, ca 76 min + discussion
Curator Federico Windhausen in person

Federico Windhausen is a film scholar and curator based in Buenos Aires. He has presented film programs at venues such as TIFF Bell Lightbox, the London Film Festival, the San Francisco Cinematheque, UnionDocs, and Anthology Film Archives. In 2014 he led the first Oberhausen Seminar, and in 2016 he curated the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen’s Theme program. His writing has been published in journals such as October, Moving Image Review & Art Journal, and Grey Room. Currently he is editing A Companion to Experimental Cinema and writing a book on Argentine experimental film.

Thursday, February 23

Nathaniel Dorsky: The Dreamer

Still from The Dreamer (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Nathaniel Dorsky, still from The Dreamer, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

Since the early 1960s, Nathaniel Dorsky has been making extraordinarily beautiful films that blend a reverence for the sensual world with a deep contemplation of the mysteries beyond. They are “occasions for reflection and meditation on light, landscape, time, and the motions of consciousness,” writes curator Steve Polta. Dorsky’s “photography emphasizes the elemental frisson between solidity and luminosity…while his uniquely developed montage permits a fluid and flowing experience of time.” In this rare Chicago appearance, Dorsky presents four recent films, Summer (2013), Intimations (2015), Autumn (2016), and The Dreamer (2016), each suffused with grace, joy, and mourning for changing seasons and times.

2013–16, USA, 16mm, ca 90 min + discussion
Nathaniel Dorsky in person

Nathaniel Dorsky (b. New York City) is an experimental filmmaker and film editor who has been making films since 1963. His 2003 book Devotional Cinema explores the relation between cinema and the unknowable. Dorsky is the recipient of many awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the LEF Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the California Arts Council. His work has been included for exhibition in the Whitney Museum, New York; MoMA, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Modern, London; the Filmoteca Española, Madrid; the Prague Film Archive; the Vienna Film Museum; the Pacific Film Archive, San Francisco; the Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge; and the New York Film Festival. Dorsky has lived in San Francisco since 1971.

Thursday, March 2

Stacey Steers: Edge of Alchemy

Still from Edge of Alchemy (Stacey Steers, 2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Stacey Steers, still from Edge of Alchemy, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

Bees swarm, a bat swallows a young woman, and eggs and orbs multiply against backdrops of flora, viscera, and pulsating night skies. Such are the surreal visions of Stacey Steers’ animated films, which she composes by hand from thousands of silent film stills and fragments of 19th-century engravings and illustrations. Over the last decade, she has produced a trio of works on women’s inner lives, meditating on fraught relationships, motherhood, medicine, and death through the images of early film stars Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Janet Gaynor, and the unnamed women of Eadweard Muybridge’s proto-cinematic study Human and Animal Locomotion (1887). She presents all three films, Phantom Canyon (2006), Night Hunter (2011), and the latest, Edge of Alchemy (2017), together for the first time.

2006–17, USA, multiple formats, ca 50 min + discussion
Stacey Steers in person

Stacey Steers is known for her process-driven, labor-intensive animated films composed of thousands of handmade works on paper. Steers is a recipient of major grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, and the American Film Institute. She was the focus of a major retrospective at the 2015 Annecy Festival of Animation, France, and received the Brakhage Vision Award at the 2012 Denver International Film Festival. Steers’ animated short films have screened widely throughout the United States and abroad and have received numerous awards. Her films have been included in the Sundance, Telluride, and Rotterdam film festivals and have screened at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and MoMA, New York. She lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.

Thursday, March 9

The Passion of Remembrance

Still from The Passion of Remembrance (Isaac Julien and Maureen Blackwood / Sankofa Film and Video, 1986). Image courtesy of the artists and Women Make Movies.

Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien/Sankofa Film and Video, still from The Passion of Remembrance, 1986. Image courtesy of Women Make Movies.

The Sankofa Film and Video Collective was part of a wave of politically-minded Black independent filmmakers who emerged in London in the 1980s, during an era of increasing social conservatism and racial unrest. The group’s acclaimed first feature, co-directed by members Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien, is a prismatic look at gender, race, sexuality, and generational conflict. Interwoven with footage of England’s inner-city riots of the early 1980s, the film is comprised of two main storylines: one features a dialogue between an allegorical Black Man and Black Woman, and the other follows the everyday experiences of the Baptiste family from the 1950s through the 1980s. A rich and complex work whose reflections reverberate today.

1986, United Kingdom, Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien/Sankofa Film and Video Collective, 16mm, 80 min

Maureen Blackwood is a writer and director. After completing a degree in media studies, she cofounded the Sankofa Film and Video Collective. Her works with Sankofa include The Passion of Remembrance (1986), Looking for Langston (1988), and Dreaming Rivers (1988).  She also wrote and directed the award-winning Perfect Image? (1989) as well as A Family Called Abrew (1994), Home Away from Home (1994), and Shop of Dreams (2005).

Isaac Julien is an installation artist and filmmaker. His work breaks down the barriers between different artistic disciplines, drawing from and commenting on film, dance, photography, music, theater, painting, and sculpture and uniting these media to construct powerful visual narratives. Julien has had solo exhibitions at MAC Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (2016); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2016); the De Pont Museum, Netherlands (2015); MoMA, New York (2013); Art Institute of Chicago (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2012); Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo (2012); Bass Museum, Miami (2010); Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2009); Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Lisbon (2008); Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2006); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2005); and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2005).

Thursday, March 16

Sky Hopinka: Translations and Transmutations

Still from Anti-Objects (Sky Hopinka, 2016). Image courtesy of the artist.

Sky Hopinka, still from Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

A Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Sky Hopinka creates sublime polyrhythmic works that draw upon his history and identity. He presents a selection of recent works built around ideas of homeland, language, and landscape. In the dazzling Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2016), audio of one of the last speakers of Chinuk Wawa, a Native American language from the Pacific Northwest, echoes over images of memorials and contemporary structures around the city of Portland, Oregon, that have complicated connections to the Chinookan people who have lived there for thousands of years. In a new work, filmed at the site of the Standing Rock resistance, the land is at once living and abstracted through history, politics, and money. Also on the program are I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become (2016), Visions of an Island (2015), and Jáaji Approx. (2015), among others. In English, Hocak, Aleut, and Chinuk Wawa with some English subtitles.

Presented in collaboration with Video Data Bank (VDB) as part of the organization’s 40th Anniversary Year.

2015–17, USA, digital file, ca 60 min + discussion
Sky Hopinka in person

Sky Hopinka was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington, and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon, and is currently based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Thursday, March 30

Hyphen-Labs: NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism

Image from NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism (Hyphen Labs, ongoing). Image courtesy the artists.

Hyphen-Labs, NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism, ongoing. Image courtesy the artists.

Hyphen-Labs is an international collective of women artists, designers, engineers, game-builders, and writers known for works that merge art, technology, and science. Their latest project, the multiplatform NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism uses video, virtual reality, and medical imaging to explore Black women’s contributions to science while raising issues of identity and perception. Set in a future “neurocosmetology lab,” where Black women pioneer brain modulation and cognitive enhancement by embedding electrodes into extensions and braiding techniques, the piece reimagines technologies of beauty as media for scientific and social experimentation. Hyphen-Labs presents and discusses the project, while inviting viewers to help produce new images and avatars of Black women to reprogram our digital and physical realities.

Presented in collaboration with Black Cinema House.

2017, USA, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion
Hyphen-Labs members Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ashley Baccus-Clark, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov in person

Carmen Aguilar y Wedge is a Cuban-Mexican-American engineer, artist, and researcher. In 2014, she cofounded Hyphen-Labs, an international team of women with backgrounds in art, design, engineering, science, and architecture who synthesize art and technology to create meaningful experiences. Emphasizing experimentation and alternative education, the team finds creative solutions and applications to complex problems using new media, emerging technology, robotics, and computation.

Ashley Baccus-Clark is a molecular and cellular biologist, and multidisciplinary artist who uses new media and storytelling to explore themes of deep learning, cognition, memory, trauma, and systems of belief.

Ece Tankal is an architect, moving-image maker, and multidisciplinary designer from Istanbul, living in Barcelona. She is one of the cofounders of Hyphen-Labs and operates at the intersection of art and human interaction to craft experiences that go beyond visual perception, performing tangible outcomes.

Nitzan Bartov is an architect, game designer, and artist based in Brooklyn and Tel Aviv. She is a cofounder of n-Dimensional, game studio and a recent member of Hyphen-Labs collective, where she explores mixed realities in an artistic context. Reflecting the movements between media, her work is a mashup of architecture, spatial storytelling, and pop culture.

Thursday, April 6

Melika Bass: Devotional Animals

Image from Creature Companions (Melika Bass, 2017). Image courtesy of the artist.

Melika Bass, still from Creature Companion, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Richly atmospheric, the films and installations of Chicago-based artist Melika Bass (MFA 2007) are populated by elusive figures whose enigmatic behavior suggest dark and troubling lives just beyond the screen. Working with a recurring group of performers, some of whom reappear as the same character in multiple films, Bass has developed an expansive approach to narrative: stories arc, abstract, and twist through different projects, revealing and complicating characters, relationships, and themes. She presents a selection of work from two recent and evolving projects, including Creature Companion, which features Selma Banich and Penelope Hearne engaged in a mysterious and sensual pas de deux inspired by the teachings of radical psychotherapist Wilhelm Reich. Bass also introduces a new episode in her ongoing project The Latest Sun is Sinking Fast, revisiting three isolated characters (Sarah Stambaugh, Bryan Saner, and Matthew Goulish) whose solitary habits slowly entwine.

2015–2017, USA, digital file, ca 60 min + discussion
Melika Bass in person

Melika Bass is a filmmaker and installation artist. Solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2011); Comfort Station, Chicago (2012); Iceberg Projects, Chicago (2013); and the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2015). International screenings and exhibitions include BFI London Film Festival; Kino der Kunst, Munich; Torino Film Festival; CPH Dox Film Festival, Copenhagen. Other screenings include the Ann Arbor Film Festival; the Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York; and Anthology Film Archives, New York. She is a recipient of an Artadia Award, Ann Arbor Film Festival’s Kodak/Filmcraft Award, an Experimental Film Prize from the Athens International Film Festival, and two Media Arts Fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council. Bass was one of a dozen international filmmakers commissioned by Icelandic band Sigur Ros to create an original film for their Valtari Mystery Film Experiment. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at SAIC.

Thursday, April 13

Wael Shawky: Cabaret Crusades

Still from Cabaret Crusades III: The Secrets of Karbala, (Wael Shawky, 2015). © Wael Shawky; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

Wael Shawky, still from Cabaret Crusades III: The Secrets of Karbala, 2015. © Wael Shawky; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

The rich and provocative work of Egyptian artist Wael Shawky uses film and performance to explore the complexities of national, religious, and artistic identity. With the three-part Cabaret Crusades, he restages the medieval upheaval between Muslim and Christian worlds with a cast of exquisitely crafted marionettes and score derived from Shia lamentation criers and traditional Bahraini pearl fishing songs. Inspired by French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes and based on historical accounts, Shawky meditates on religious doctrine while highlighting the secular motivations of the Crusades’ European and Arab fighters. The result is a work of major significance, one that blends film, theater, literature, history, and music, while also reflecting on the social and political landscape of the world today. In classical Arabic with English subtitles.

Shawky introduces and discusses the first two parts of the trilogy, Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Files (2010) and Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012) at 6:00 p.m. and introduces the third, Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala (2015) at 8:15 p.m. Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program, which presents an artist talk by Wael Shawky on Wednesday, April 12. See www.saic.edu/vap for details.

2010–12, Egypt/Italy/France, HD video, ca 90 min + discussion
2015, Italy/Egypt, HD video, 120 min
Wael Shawky in person

Wael Shawky frames contemporary culture through the lens of historical tradition and vice versa. In recent works, he has staged epic recreations of the medieval clashes between Muslims and Christians in his trilogy Cabaret Crusades (2010–15) and worked with child actors to recount poetic myths, paying homage rather than mere lip service, to the important narratives of yesteryear in Al Araba Al Madfuna (2012–16). Recent solo exhibitions include Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Fondazione Merz, Turin; Lisson Gallery Milan; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Fondazione Merz, Zürich; MATHAF, Doha; MoMA PS1, New York; K20 Dusseldorf; Serpentine Galleries, London; KW Contemporary Art Institute, Berlin; Nottingham Contemporary; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Delfina Foundation, London; and Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Italy. He has participated in the 14th Istanbul Biennial; Sharjah Biennial 11; documenta 13; 9th Gwangju Biennale; SITE Santa Fe Biennial; 9th Istanbul Biennial, and the 50th Venice Biennale. Recent awards include the inaugural Mario Merz Prize; Award for Filmic Oeuvre created by Louis Vuitton and Kino der Kunst; Abraaj Capital Art Prize; Schering Foundation Art Award; as well as the International Commissioning Grant and an award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In 2010, Shawky founded the educational space MASS Alexandria. He currently lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt.

Thursday, April 20


Due to unforeseen circumstances, VALIE EXPORT will not be able to join us. Curator and Professor Bruce Jenkins with introduce the screening with an in-depth overview of the artist’s career.  

VALIE EXPORT. Photo: Hermann Hendrich. © VALIE EXPORT.

VALIE EXPORT. Photo: Hermann Hendrich. © VALIE EXPORT.

Among the most important artists of her generation, VALIE EXPORT has created a provocative and groundbreaking body of work that spans film, performance, and installation and interrogates many of the sociopolitical issues central to modern life—gender, surveillance, information, and political power. Rejecting her family and ex-husband’s name in 1967, she adopted her nom de guerre from a popular brand of cigarettes. The nature of this act has characterized much of her work, from the radical Tapp und Tastkino (Touch and Tap Cinema) (1968), in which she used the physicality of her body to confront social and media chauvinism, to the analytical film Adjunct Dislocations (1973), which breaks down space to offer new possibilities for representation of the world.

1968–2009, Austria/Germany, multiple formats, ca 75 min + discussion

VALIE EXPORT is a filmmaker and performance artist. She received a degree in textile design from the Technical School for Textile Industry in Vienna in 1964 and began her career expanding on the Viennese Actionist project with a complex feminist critique of the social and political body, fusing the visceral and conceptual. Her works are in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Reina Sofía, Madrid; MoMA, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and have been exhibited around the world in museums, art spaces, and media festivals including the Venice Biennale; documenta, Kassel; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Shanghai Art Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seoul; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Ars Electronica Center, Linz; and the Cannes, Montréal, Vancouver, San Francisco, Locarno, Hong Kong, Sydney, and New York Film Festivals. She has taught at the Academy of Visual Arts, Munich; the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; the San Francisco Art Institute; and the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne. She currently lives and works in Vienna.