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Going Back to the Future: A Visual Collage In Response to the Film ‘to render the infinite’

Featured image: Film still from Going Back to the Future, a visual collage by Ireashia M. Bennett as a response to ‘to render the infinite,’ a short film by zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal and composer by Ayana Contreras.

This article is presented in conjunction with Art Design Chicago Now, an initiative funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art that amplifies the voices of Chicago’s diverse creatives, past and present, and explores the essential role they play in shaping the now.

This video is a response to the event “Imagining Chicago’s Future: A Film Screening & Conversationpresented by the Chicago Humanities Festival that took place on November 6, 2021. In collaboration with the Chicago Film Archives, visual artist zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal and composer Ayana Contreras presented “to render the infinite”, a new film meditating on what’s to come for Chicago.

Going Back to the Future, a visual collage by Ireashia M. Bennett, explores the creation of ‘to render the infinite,’ a short film by zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal and composer by Ayana Contreras that meditates on Chicago’s future and past. o’neal repurposes archival footage from the Chicago Film Archives’s extensive collection to create a speculative visual representation centering Black women’s cultural contributions to Chicago, Black lesbian experiences and notions of belonging. Contreras masterfully remixes textured sounds and vocals to create a sweet yet haunting soundtrack that will make you feel like you’re in a Afro-surrealist version of Chicago. 

In this piece, Bennett matches the vibe by creating a kaleidoscopic visual that takes us deeper into o’neal and Contreras’s intentions behind this piece.

Watch the screening of ‘to render the infinite’ by zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal here.

Produced by Ireashia M. Bennett
Personal videos from zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal
Film excerpts by zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal
Soundtrack composed by Ayana Contreras

Archival footage featured in Going Back to the Future
A Place to Live (DeWitt beall, 1968), courtesy of Chicago Film Archives
The Black Experience in Drama, found material
Excerpt from Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, 1961 TV Movie

Ireashia M. Bennett is a storyteller, filmmaker, and writer whose work aims to create worlds, and document moments, where Black queer, disabled folks can exist in ease, complexity, and pleasure. Their work takes the form of new media, short and experimental films, as well as written and multimedia essays. They are a recipient of the two-year RaD Lab + Outside the Walls fellowship at Threewalls and the SPARK Grant from the Chicago Artists Coalition. Their artistic work has been exhibited in art spaces such as the Sullivan Galleries, Arts Incubator, Stony Island Arts Bank, and Chicago Art Department in Chicago as well as nationally at the Museum of African American History in Boston, MA.