Jenny Perlin: The Perlin Papers


Thursday, October 6, 6:00 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

The 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg—US citizens accused of spying for the Soviet Union—haunts The Perlin Papers, Jenny Perlin’s (MFA 1998) unsettling exploration of the United States’ culture of paranoia during the Cold War. Produced as a cycle of eight films, the project draws from an archive of FBI files kept on hundreds of people only tangentially related to the case. Perlin highlights the minutia and assumptions recorded in the archive: in one sequence, an FBI-bugged dinner party comes to life, full of ellipses and muffled words; in another, the hasty notes of a government informant are carefully reanimated. The result brings the era’s darkest moments into conversation with state surveillance today.

2006–12, USA, 16mm transferred to digital, 54 min + discussion

Jenny Perlin (b. Williamstown, MA) is an artist working in Brooklyn. Her practice in 16mm film, video, and drawing works with and against the documentary tradition, incorporating innovative stylistic techniques to emphasize issues of truth, misunderstanding, and personal history. Perlin’s works have been exhibited around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka, Croatia; the Drawing Center, New York; and the Kitchen, New York. Her work is held in the public collections of the MoMA and Whitney in New York and the Seattle Art Museum. Perlin received her BA from Brown University and her MFA from SAIC in Film and completed postgraduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program. She teaches at the New School and the Cooper Union and is represented by Simon Preston Gallery New York and Galerie M+R Fricke Berlin.