CHICAGO—Beginning February 9, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) critically acclaimed series Conversations at the Edge will host a distinguished lineup of screenings, performances and talks by groundbreaking artists and filmmakers who exemplify the boundary-blurring nature of experimental media. Artists include celebrated filmmaker and critic Rikurō Miyai, a central figure in Japan’s 1960s underground, Sky Hopinka whose “Visions of an Island” will be featured in this year’s Whitney Biennial and renowned filmmaker and performance artist VALIE EXPORT whose provocative work interrogates many of the sociopolitical issues central to modern life.
This spring, through Conversations at the Edge, SAIC, a global leader in art and design education, will feature screenings, performances and talks by the following artists and curators:
- Rikurō Miyai’s expansive, pop-infused practice spans filmmaking, art criticism, design and television. In this rare U.S. appearance, he presents two of his best-known works of expanded cinema, “Phenomenology of Zeitgeist” (1967) and “Shadow “(1968). 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.
- Federico Windhausen is a film scholar and curator based in Buenos Aires. He presents “Against Ethnography,” a program of contemporary videos from Latin America that charts the limits of communication between indigenous and nonindigenous worlds. Selections include Vincent Carelli and Dominique Gallois’ “Meeting Ancestors / A arca dos Zo'é” (Brazil, 1993), Vicente Cueto’s “Raccaya Umasi” (Peru, 2015), “Contornos” (Peru, 2014) by Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Leticia Obeid’s “Bilingüe” (Argentina, 2013) and Camilo Restrepo’s “Tropic Pocket” (Colombia, 2011).
- Nathaniel Dorsky is renowned for a five-decade career making extraordinarily beautiful experimental films that blend a reverence for the sensual world with the mysteries beyond. 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.
- Stacey Steers’ handmade animated films are composed of thousands of assemblages sourced from silent films and 19th century 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 for the first time, “Phantom Canyon” (2006), “Night Hunter” (2011) and “Edge of Alchemy” (2017).
- “The Passion of Remembrance” (1986), the acclaimed first feature film by the Sankofa Film and Video Collective will screen in a rare 16mm print. Codirected by members Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien, the film is a prismatic look at gender, race, sexuality and generational conflict. 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.
- Sky Hopinka is a Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians who creates sublime polyrhythmic works that draw upon his history and identity. He presents a selection of recent works built around ideas of homeland and landscape, including “Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary” (2016), which features audio of one of the last speakers of Chinuk Wawa, a Native American language from the Pacific Northwest, “Visions of an Island” (2015), which will be featured in this year’s Whitney Biennial, “I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become” (2016), “Jáaji Approx.” (2015), and a new work, shot at the site of the Standing Rock resistance.
- 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 multi-platform “NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism” uses video, virtual reality and medical imaging to explore Black women’s contributions to science while raising issues of identity and perception. Hyphen-Labs’ members include Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, a Cuban-American engineer, artist, and researcher; Ashley Baccus-Clark, a molecular and cellular biologist and multidisciplinary artist; Ece Tankal, an architect, moving-image maker and multidisciplinary designer; and Nitzan Bartov, an architect, game designer and artist based in Brooklyn and Tel Aviv.
- Melika Bass’ (MFA 2007) acclaimed films and installations are populated by 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. She presents a selection of work from two recent and evolving projects, including “Creature Companion,” and a new episode of her ongoing project “The Latest Sun is Sinking Fast.”
- 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. 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) and introduces the third, “Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala”(2015).
- VALIE EXPORT’S provocative and groundbreaking body of work spans film, performance and installation. 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 sensual representation of the world, her work makes her one of the most important artists of her generation. EXPORT presents an overview of her work and discusses the abiding questions that have guided her practice.
Conversations at the Edge is organized by SAIC’s Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank.
Conversations at the Edge Schedule
Programs take place Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., unless otherwise noted.
Rikurō Miyai’s Expanded Cinema
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room
158 E. Monroe St.
Free, registration required (see saic.edu/cate for details)
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.
Against Ethnography (curated by Federico Windhausen)
Nathaniel Dorsky: The Dreamer
Stacey Steers: Edge of Alchemy
The Passion of Remembrance
Sky Hopinka: Translations and Transmutations
Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank (VDB) as part of the organization’s 40th anniversary year
Hyphen-Labs: NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism
Presented in collaboration with Black Cinema House
Melika Bass: Devotional Animals
Wael Shawky: Cabaret Crusades
April 13, 6:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program
Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Files
Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo
Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala
An Evening with VALIE EXPORT
About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.