Thursday, February 15

Latham Zearfoss: Home Movies

Latham Zearfoss, still from Home Movie, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chicago-based artist and organizer Latham Zearfoss has built a multifaceted body of work that unites themes of love, community, family, political legacy, personal agency, and collective action. Their poetic and pop-infused videos mine the territory between public and private, reason and emotion,  the extraordinary, and the everyday. In HOME MOVIE (2012) cell phone videos of social gatherings and public performances are layered with close-ups of nature, naked bodies, and domestic interiors to form a kaleidoscopic notion of home—as a shared space, a sense of belonging, and a site of intimacy. In extrae (2016) shots of cats, unmade beds, and dried flower petals are paired with an irreverent ode to Tyrone Garner, one of the plaintiffs in the 2003 Supreme Court case that overturned archaic sodomy laws throughout the United States. Zearfoss presents a collection of videos spanning the last decade, including the premiere of two new works, Goth Party and White Balance, and restages Something to Move In (2014) and Love Is a Stranger (2012) as live, responsive performances. With Darling Shear, Caroline Campbell, Amalea Tshilds.

2008–18, USA, multiple formats, ca 70 min + discussion
Latham Zearfoss in person

Latham Zearfoss produces time-based images, objects, and experiences about selfhood and otherness. Outside of the studio, they contribute to collective motions toward joy and reflection through social projects such as the queer dance party Chances Dances, Make Yourself Useful, a critical space for White “allyship,” and Open Engagement, an itinerant conference on socially engaged art. Latham holds a BFA from SAIC (2008) and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2011). They have exhibited their work, screened their videos, and DJ’ed internationally and across the United States.

Thursday, February 22

Ephraim Asili: The Diaspora Suite

Ephraim Asili, still from Many Thousands Gone, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and the Video Data Bank.

In 2011, New York-based filmmaker, DJ, and traveler Ephraim Asili began an extraordinary series of films on the African diaspora. These films—Forged Ways (2011), American Hunger (2013), Many Thousands Gone (2015), Kindah (2016), and Fluid Frontiers (2017)—bring together archival research and Asili’s travels through Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States to chart cultural connections across time and space. Fluid Frontiers, for example, explores ideas of resistance and liberation through Detroit’s Broadside Press, one of the most important presses for Black poetry. Asili asks residents of Detroit and nearby Windsor, Ontario, to read these poems without rehearsal, potently collapsing history, contemporary politics, and art through their magnetic performances. In earlier works like American Hunger, Asili knits together images from downtown Accra, Ghana’s coastal slave forts, and the Jersey Shore in an effort to understand his own relationship with Western colonialism and US imperialism.

2011–17, multiple countries, digital file, ca 92 min + discussion
Ephraim Asili in person

Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

Ephraim Asili’s films have screened in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan; San Francisco International Film Festival; Milan Film Festival, Italy; International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; MoMA PS1, New York; , Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Whitney Museum, New York. As a DJ, Asili can be heard on his radio program In The Cut on WGXC, or live at his monthly dance party Botanica. Asili currently resides in Hudson, New York, and is an Assistant Professor in the Film and Electronic Arts department at Bard College.

Thursday, March 1

Lee Anne Schmitt: Purge This Land

Lee Anne Schmitt, still from Purge This Land, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Just before his execution, abolitionist John Brown wrote, “I am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” Brown was hung on December 2, 1859, less than two months after he led a raid on a federal armory in an attempt to incite an armed rebellion against slavery. In her new film, Purge This Land, Los Angeles-based filmmaker Lee Anne Schmitt uses Brown’s legacy to consider the long shadows of slavery and systemic, violent racism on the United States’ psychic and physical landscape. She interweaves shots of rural back roads and urban centers throughout the country, memorializing the sites of Brown’s radicalization alongside those of race riots, police shootings, and other forms of White racial violence and Black disenfranchisement throughout the last 150 years. Set to a score by Jeff Parker that references histories of Black music, the film resists easy resolution, modeling resistance instead.

2017, USA, DCP, 80 min + discussion
Lee Anne Schmitt and Jeff Parker in person

Lee Anne Schmitt’s films and related projects have addressed American exceptionalism, the logic of utility and labor, gestures of kindness and refusal, racial violence, “cowboyism,” trauma and narrative, and the efficacy of solitude. She has exhibited widely at venues that include MoMA, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and festivals such as Viennale, Austria; Copenhagen International Documentary Festival, Denmark; International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany; International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Argentina; and Marseille Festival of Documentary Film, France. Schmitt is a recent recipient of both a Graham Foundation Grant and a Creative Capital Award.

Jeff Parker is an American jazz and rock guitarist based in Los Angeles. Parker is best known as an experimental musician, working with avant-garde electronic, rock, and improvisational groups. Parker plays guitar in the post-rock group Tortoise and was a founding member of Isotope 217 and the Chicago Underground Trio in the 1990s and early 2000s. He is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and has worked with George Lewis, Ernest Dawkins, Brian Blade, Joshua Redman, Fred Anderson, and Jason Moran, among many others.

Thursday, March 8

Laura Huertas Millán: Ethnographic Fictions

Laura Huertas Millán, still from Sol Negro, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

Investigating the terrain between fiction and ethnography, French-Colombian filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán has created a multifaceted body of work where political history and personal narrative meet. Her 2016 film Sol Negro is a portrait of Antonia, a Colombian opera singer, her sister, and her niece. Empathy and anger are exchanged between the women as they each reckon with feelings of deep sorrow and entrapment—within themselves and within the family. Huertas Millán’s La Libertad (2017) centers on a Mesoamerican matriarchal family that has inherited and mastered the art of weaving on the backstrap loom to explore the ties that bind labor and creativity. Across both of these ethnographic fictions, Huertas Millán’s careful attention to detail reflects the exquisite experience of everyday life.

2016–17, Colombia/Mexico/France/USA, DCP, ca 72 + discussion
Laura Huertas Millán in person

Laura Huertas Millán is interested in exploring what she calls “ethnographic fictions.” Her works have been internationally screened in museums, galleries, and cinemas including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Colombia; and Instituto de Visión, Bogotá, as well as film festivals around the globe. In 2017, she was a featured artist at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. She has received numerous prizes, including the Grand Prix of the Biennale de la Jeune Création Européenne in Montrouge, France. She holds a practice-based PhD from Université PSL (Sciences, Art, Création, Recherche doctoral program), Paris; an MFA from École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris; and an MA from Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, France. She has held fellowships at Harvard University; École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris; École européenne supérieure de l’image, Angoulême & Poitiers; as well as through the Colombian Cinema Fund (Proimagenes FDC).

Thursday, March 22

Edward Owens: A Portrait Study

Edward Owens, still from Remembrance: A Portrait Study, 1967. Image courtesy of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative.

In the mid 1960s, Edward Owens, a young African American artist from the South Side of Chicago, burst onto New York’s artistic underground scene with a series of strikingly beautiful films of heartbreak, queer desire, and his own family. With their layered images and flickering edits, the films show the influence of Owens’ mentor, filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos, with whom he had studied as one of the first film students at SAIC. Yet, Owens developed a distinct style, particularly in his painterly approach to portraiture and allegory. These films were lauded by his contemporaries; for example, the critic Parker Tyler included Owens’ 1967 film Remembrance: A Portrait Study as one of the avant-garde’s key works in his landmark study Underground Film: A Critical History. Despite these achievements, Owens’ works have been largely overlooked until recent efforts by the critic Ed Halter and New York’s Film-Makers’ Cooperative to bring them to new light. Rarely screened in his own home town, this evening’s program is a unique opportunity to reassess Owens’ singular body of work.

1966–687, USA, 16mm to 2K digital file, ca 57 min + discussion
Introduced by critic Ed Halter

Edward Owens was an African American artist and filmmaker. He studied painting and sculpture at SAIC, in addition to making 8mm movies. Encouraged by his mentor, filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos, Owens moved to New York City. There he met filmmaker-poet Charles Boultenhouse, with whom Owens became romantically involved. Owens returned to Chicago for personal reasons in 1971, finishing his college degree but never completing another film. The time Owens spent in New York resulted in several films that showcase a unique approach to imagery, lighting, editing, and narrative that defines his brief yet meaningful career.

Thursday, March 29

Thorsten Trimpop: Furusato 古里

Thorsten Trimpop, still from Furusato 古里, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

Thorsten Trimpop’s films explore the many ways cultural, political, and ecological histories are borne by individuals in their daily lives. His most recent feature, Furusato, exposes the devastating effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown on the surrounding landscape and its inhabitants. Shot over the course of four years, the film follows a media-savvy activist, a horse breeder, a teen-rocker, and a nuclear engineer for the Tokyo Electric Power Company as they struggle to cope with the fallout of the ongoing disaster. The land that had once been a source of profound physical and cultural sustenance for Japan’s eastern coast is now tainted with the invisible danger of radiation. Culminating in a traditional horse race, one that has taken place since the 8th century, but now provokes intense anxiety among inhabitants, Furusato meditates on the unfathomable sacrifices wrought in the name of progress.

2016, Japan, DCP, 90 min + discussion

Thorsten Trimpop is a filmmaker and visual artist based in Chicago. His current film, Furusato 古里, is a human-scale portrait of a small town in Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone. It premiered at DOK Leipzig, Germany, where it won the grand prize, the Golden Dove. His film and theater works have been presented at venues such as the Locarno Festival, Switzerland; the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; at the Viennale, Austria; Marseille Festival of Documentary Film, France; Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan; Busan International Film Festival, South Korea; among others. Trimpop has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and Boston University. From 2014 to 2017, he was a fellow at the MIT Open Documentary Lab. He is currently Assistant Professor at SAIC in the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department, where he is working on a new feature film about the destructive human obsession with beauty.

Thursday, April 5

Hayoun Kwon: Films and Virtual Realities

Hayoun Kwon, still from 489 Years, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

Through a unique interplay of documentary techniques and animation technologies, the films and virtual reality projects of Paris-based South Korean artist Hayoun Kwon present new realms for history and memory. Biographical accounts of a Nigerian asylum seeker in Lack of Evidence (2011) and a South Korean soldier serving in the Korean Demilitarized Zone in 489 Years (2015) are mapped onto spectacular animated landscapes that undergo dramatic transformations in perspective. North Korea’s propaganda village Kijŏng-dong is replicated in Kwon’s Model Village (2014), which highlights the irony of an uninhabited utopia, while The Bird Lady (2017) immerses viewers into a Parisian apartment turned aviary. Kwon’s striking images reflect the shifting psychic and geopolitical realities of her subjects. The artist presents a selection of films, two recent virtual reality projects, and discusses the ideas and technologies that sustain her practice.

2011–2017, South Korea/France/USA, multiple formats, ca 75 min + discussion
Hayoun Kwon in person

Hayoun Kwon is a filmmaker and multimedia artist. Her work has been screened in museums, galleries, and film festivals around the world including at the Cinéma du Réel festival at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain; Doc Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California; and the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands, among others. Kwon is the recipient of numerous awards in filmmaking and media art including the Prix de la Jeune Création (2012); the Arte Creative Newcomer Award from the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück, Germany (2014); the Prix Découverte des Amis du Palais de Tokyo (2015); and first prize at the 62nd International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany (2016). She graduated in 2011 from Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, France. She is based in France and South Korea.

Thursday, April 12

The Nation’s Finest

Tara Mateik, still from Putting the Balls Away, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist.

For millennia, sports have been intrinsic to daily life, physical well-being, education, civic identity, and social harmony. Over the past decade, sports have assumed an even larger, more multidimensional place in our culture. The traditional schisms and antagonisms between sports performance and spectatorship, creative production, and scholarly activity (jocks vs nerds, square vs cool), have been blurred. Featuring works by Haig Aivazian, I AM A BOYS CHOIR, Tara Mateik, Nam June Paik, Keith Piper, Lillian Schwartz, and the Internet, this program deconstructs the athlete’s body—how it is used for national, political, and social agendas, and how it is viewed and re-crafted by artists (who are sometimes athletic). For example, Nam June Paik’s Lake Placid ‘80 (1980) is an unruly and slyly subversive commission for the Olympic Winter Games whereas Keith Piper’s Nation’s Finest (1990) mimics the look and tone of state propaganda with a silky, biting critique of the way predominantly White countries use Black bodies in the service of national pride while simultaneously disenfranchising their Black residents. The Nation’s Finest is curated by Astria Suparak and Brett Kashmere and organized as part of INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media’s forthcoming issue, “Sports.”

1971–2013, multiple artists, USA/Lebanon/United Kingdom/Hong Kong, multiple formats, ca 71 min + discussion
Introduced by curators Astria Suparak and Brett Kashmere

Brett Kashmere is a media artist, historian, and curator. His work explores the intersection of history and (counter-)memory, sports, and popular culture by combining archival research with materialist aesthetics, hybrid forms, and explorations of voice. Kashmere is the founding editor and publisher of INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media. He has curated projects for the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Strasbourg, France; Cinémathèque québecoise, Montréal; Light Cone, Paris; Toronto International Film Festival Cinémathèque; among others. His writing has appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies such as Moving Image Review & Art Journal, The Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Millennium Film Journal, and A Microcinema Primer: A Brief History of Small Cinemas. Kashmere has taught film and video production and exhibition practices at Oberlin College and Concordia University.

Astria Suparak has curated exhibitions, screenings, live music events, and performances for MoMA PS1, New York; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; The Kitchen, New York; Eyebeam, New York; and the Liverpool Biennial, United Kingdom. At Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery, she curated Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men, the first survey of the culture-jamming group; Whatever It Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions with artist Jon Rubin, which explored sports fanaticism as a form of cultural production; and Alien She with Ceci Moss, a traveling exhibition on the impact of the global punk feminist movement Riot Grrrl. Suparak coproduced the publication New Art/Science Affinities, and her writing has been published recently by The Exhibitionist; Noisey; The Iris, the blog of the J.Paul Getty Trust; and Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community. Her curated videotape, Some Kind of Loving, produced by Joanie 4 Jackie, was acquired by the Getty Research Institute earlier this year.

Thursday, April 19

An Evening with Joan Jonas

Joan Jonas, still from Stream or River, Flight or Pattern, 2016-2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Among the most significant artists working today, Joan Jonas has a groundbreaking body of work that spans video, performance, dance, installation, and drawing to explore fundamental questions around visual perception, ritual, archetypes, and transmission of knowledge. Initially trained as a sculptor, she began experimenting with performance in the late 1960s, merging elements of contemporary dance, Japanese Noh theater, and props like masks, mirrors, and eventually, video cameras and monitors. In works like Songdelay (1973) she incorporated distance and sound to draw attention to the ways perception is altered by space. In Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll (1972) she performed alongside a video monitor, exploring the medium’s ability to both reflect and obscure her image. In the years since, her electrifying videos and multimedia works have combined folk tales, dreams, and autobiography and frequently feature collaborators, including Tilda Swinton, jazz pianist Jason Moran, and Sami yoik singer Ánde Somby, among others. Jonas presents an overview of her practice, including a selection of films and videos from across her career.

Tonight’s program will include new 16mm prints of Wind (1968) and Songdelay (1973). These films have been preserved by Anthology Film Archives through the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grant program and The Film Foundation. Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. This is the first time these prints have screened outside of New York.

1968–2017, multiple countries, multiple formats, ca 90 min + discussion
Joan Jonas in person

Joan Jonas is a pioneer of performance and video art. Since 1968, she has worked with video, installation, sculpture, and drawing to explore ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Among her many honors are awards from Anonymous Was A Woman (1998); the Rockefeller Foundation (1990); American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for Video (1989); Guggenheim Foundation (1976); and the National Endowment for the Arts (1974). Jonas is the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Modern in London opening in March 2018 and represented the US at the 2015 Venice Biennial. She has had major exhibitions at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Stockholm; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Documenta; Performa; The Kitchen, New York; Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; Museum of Modern Art, New York; among many others. Jonas is Professor Emerita in the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology within the School of Architecture and Planning. She lives and works in New York and Nova Scotia, Canada.