All posts filed under: Video + Film

Body Talk: “Beyond Measure: Daniel Cerrejón and Carolyn Lazard” at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

In the video Crip Time (2017) by Philadelphia-based artist Carolyn Lazard, we watch two hands dole out units of medicine, one by one, into the expectant slots of a weekly dosage organizer. The methodical preparation plays out as a choreography of repetition and accumulation, a rhythmic tapping of pill on plastic. The pills themselves—studies in color and form as well as chemistry—become small ritual objects for marking time in a sick body. Abstracted from the suffering that necessitates them, these are pharmaceutical gemstones made from science we can’t access for purposes we aren’t told. The video marks the beginning of Beyond Measure, curated by Charlotte Ickes and Jared Quinton at Tiger Strikes Asteroid. The show pairs Lazard, whose personal experience with Crohn’s disease has shaped how they make visible the procedures and power dynamics structuring a life with chronic illness, with Daniel Cerrejón, who takes on the ways we try to demystify the condition of having a body among other bodies. At a time when dominant cultural narratives rely on the supposed immateriality of information …

Preserving Celluloid Film: A Look at Archiving in Chicago

In 2011, visual artist Tacita Dean opened her exhibition “FILM” at the Tate Modern where she responded to the destruction of celluloid film. She exhibited a silent, 11 minute, 35mm looped film in the London museum. The exhibition set out to provide a physical display for viewers to see the difference between digital and celluloid. The history of the moving image, important to Dean, exhibited the richness in color and the power of the projection. The New York Times writes, “Like the vinyl long-playing record, the Polaroid camera and the manual typewriter, celluloid has attracted a generation of artists who have come of age in a digital world and have developed a nostalgic soft spot for analog.” I spoke to Dan Erdman, an archivist at the Media Burn, and Director Nancy Watrous from Chicago Film Archives, about the importance of preserving celluloid and the impact of film on history. No one ever claimed that film restoration was sexy. It’s granular. It’s a bit mundane. It’s lots of organizing and dusting off grimy surfaces. It’s protective gloves and …

Review: “Resilient Images” at the Hyde Park Art Center

Resilient Images confronts the viewer before one even walks through the gallery’s door. Look up slightly, and you will see Justine Pluvinage’s video installation Amazons facing out onto Cornell Avenue from the inside of the building, with its multiple panels of female subjects taking an epic, slow-motion stroll through both greenery and crumbling industrial architecture. If you’re walking with your head down through the bitter temperatures of a typical Chicago winter, you’re likely to miss this introduction entirely. For the artists, though, this might simply be indicative of the sort of resilience they are gesturing towards in their work. This exhibition is the result of a year-long artistic exchange between Hyde Park Art Center and the Centre Regionale de la Photographie Nord—Pas-de-Calais, featuring the artists Justine Pluvinage and David Schalliol. Both artists generated a site-specific work out of their respective residencies without further collaboration or dialogue with the other participant — Pluvinage travelled from France to Chicago to shoot her film, while Schalliol’s work was made in Hauts-de-France. Yet the pieces shown in Resilient Images …

First Nations Film and Video Festival

For over 15 years the First Nations Film and Video Festival has provided Native American film and video makers of all skill levels a platform to show works that break racial stereotypes and promote awareness of contemporary Native American issues and society. This year, the festival presented over 30 films across  the span of ten days at 11 different venues including the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, the Beverly Arts Center, and the American Indian Center. The final event was a special screening of three films hand-picked by festival director Ernest M. Whiteman III (Northern Arapaho) at Comfort Station in Logan Square. The first film, Advent, directed by Jonah T. Begay (Navajo Nation), was a short story about two young children, one human and one alien. The film, mostly silent sans a few well placed Foley sounds and a musical score, begins by following the human boy as he cares for an elderly woman with low vision, bringing her breakfast and guiding her on walks through the city and the woods over …

Erica Mei Gamble outside Harold Washington Library

Communal Sound Space

Erica Mei Gamble is a musician, storyteller, and children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. These roles converge in her ongoing project Communal Sound Space, an ever-expanding collection of video footage of DIY music and performance in Chicago. Since the launch of its online presence in August 2017, the archive makes public hundreds of videos documenting nearly a decade of performances in DIY spaces and small galleries around the city. The project amounts to a deeply personal history of Chicago music. Erica has filmed each performance herself, setting up shop at a good angle. Watching her record has become part of the fabric of going to a certain type of show: intimate, experimental, and for the most part, ephemeral. Thanks to Erica, that last bit is changing. Anyone curious about what goes on after hours in the darkened spaces of Chicago can now experience—or pause, rewind, and relive—a slice of it from anywhere in the world. I caught up with Erica about her project—creating safe spaces for expression, the impulse to document, maintaining an archive …

Designing for a Fertile Future

As a designer who is concerned about the future of the planet, Jessica Gorse thinks sustainability is not a sufficient goal. If humans are to stem ongoing environmental and political crises, according to Gorse, they need to get more imaginative and take up regenerative projects that grow better future worlds. To that end, Gorse—who went back to school at age 28 for a degree in Designed Objects at SAIC—investigates the possible lifespans of materials we use every day. This takes form in her work with Fertile Design, a project she started with fellow SAIC students Erin Delaney and Soniya Khasgiwale. Together, they experiment with making plastics out of food waste that are then embedded with seeds and nutrient-rich natural dyes such that through biodegrading they replenish the soil and germinate. What is so great about Gorses’s work is that it is both idealistic and completely practical. She calls this practice “futurist world-building.” When I met Gorse in her studio at SAIC, we began by watching two of her experimental video projects before digging into Fertile Design. “Fusion Vision” is a lo-fi cartoon music video featuring a guitar-plucking …

Intimate Justice: An Interview with Claire Arctander

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For the first installment, we visited visual artist Claire Arctander in her home studio to discuss her video, sculptural, and performance-based practice. S. Nicole Lane: Let’s begin with the general background questions. Where did you go to school? How did you begin working with film and performance? Claire Arctander: I am pretty much a Chicagoan through and through. I grew up in a suburb. My parents were artists when I was growing up, and my dad is still an artist. He teaches art at McHenry County College, so I was exposed to art. It’s just a typical practice and a way to express oneself. Then I went to undergrad at Northwestern. I always really loved writing, so that’s the direction that I thought I was going to go in. Writing is still important to me, but as soon as I started school there I pretty quickly veered …

Clarissa Bonet: The Visual Artist behind the Camera

At 26 and not even a full year after graduating from Columbia College Chicago’s photography graduate program, Clarissa Bonet’s photographic series City Space has been praised. An award winning photographer, her work has been exhibited in Chicago, Florida, Paris, China, Israel, and published by the award winning photography magazine PDN (Photo District News), the Swiss Magazine Das Magazin, Booooooom, and Feature Shoot…to name a few. Clarissa possesses the ability to create work that is captivating and full of emotion. I had the pleasure of learning more about the visual artist behind the camera.     Sophia Nahli: When did you know you wanted to be a photographer? Clarissa Bonet: I started photography when I was in middle school. We had a little dark room in my school, so I started experimenting there, but I really got into photography when I was in high school. I knew my sophomore year of high school that photography was going to be my medium to work in. SN: Why is photography important to you? CB: That’s kind of a …

Black To The Future Series: An Interview with Cauleen Smith

Using a title borrowed from an essay by cultural critic Mark Dery, the Black To The Future Series is a sequence of interviews with artists whose practice has started to define a new generation of work in the realm of afrofuturism and afrosurrealism. Using a pointed series of questions, these interviews have been conducted to spark conversation, to hear various points of view on something that is constantly changing and transforming, and with the hopes of allowing the practitioners to be at the center of determining what these movements are. This week we get some insight from artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith.  Cauleen has spent the past two years in Chicago researching and digging through the Alton Abraham Papers at the University of Chicago and music archives at the Experimental Sound Studio to find gems from the life of musician and philosopher Sun Ra, a key figure in the conversation around afrofuturism.  The results of her investigation can be seen in A Star Is A Seed, an installation and series of short films at the …