CHICAGO—The fall season of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) critically acclaimed series Conversations at the Edge begins September 13 with a distinguished lineup of screenings, performances and talks by groundbreaking artists who exemplify the boundary-blurring nature of experimental media. Artists include SAIC alum Steffani Jemison (MFA 2009), whose practice draws upon Black vernacular culture to produce new modes of expression through performance, music, video and installation; Colombian filmmaker Camilo Restrepo, whose award-winning films explore personal and political trauma, survival and resistance; and Chicago-based new media artist and SAIC faculty member jonCates, who mixes the urgency of punk with the poetics of glitch.
Programs take place Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.
Stan VanDerBeek: Euclidean Illusions
The visionary work of media artist Stan VanDerBeek included film, interactive television, expanded cinema, and computer animation. Introduced by Johannes VanDerBeek of the VanDerBeek Archive, this program focuses on his computer films, screening in newly preserved 16mm prints. Presented in collaboration with Document Gallery
Camilo Restrepo: Ghosts and Songs
Camilo Restrepo’s award-winning films are striking explorations of personal and political trauma, survival, and resistance. The Colombian filmmaker introduces a program of recent works, including his arresting song-based narratives “Cilaos” (2016) and “La Bouche” (2017). Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank
Margaret Tait: Poems and Portraits
From 1950 through the late 1990s, Scottish film-poet Margaret Tait crafted an exquisite body of work that combined portraiture, music, ethnography and animation. This program features her most celebrated midcentury films, some screening for the first time in Chicago.
Steffani Jemison: Sensus Plenior
Spanning performance, music, video, and installation, Steffani Jemison's (MFA 2009) practice draws upon Black vernacular culture to produce new modes of expression. She presents a selection of audio works alongside her latest video, “Sensus Plenior” (2017).
Stephen Varble: Journey to the Sun
In the 1970s, Manhattan-based artist Stephen Varble gained infamy for his gender-confounding costume performances. Art historian David Getsy presents excerpts of Varble's ribald unfinished epic, “Journey to the Sun,” which the artist worked on from 1978 to his death in 1984.
Hélène Crouzillat and Laetitia Tura: Les Messagers
Throughout their individual careers, artists and filmmakers Hélène Crouzillat and Laetitia Tura have produced works about borders and individuals made most vulnerable by them. The two introduce their starkly poetic feature “Les Messagers” which presents the harrowing testimonies of migrants traveling from African into Europe. Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Department of Liberal Arts and Department of Visual and Critical Studies
Peter Burr: Pattern Language
Artist and animator Peter Burr creates videos, performances and video games that conjure virtual spaces and illusive patterns. Burr presents a selection of single-channel computer animations related to his expansive projects, including “Aria End,” his collaboration with the game designer Porpentine.
In recent years, a new contemporary art movement has begun to emerge, forged in reaction to the ideologies of Silicon Valley, artificial intelligence, and photorealistic computer-generated imaging. Curated and presented by Kelani Nichole, director of the Current Museum of Art and founder of TRANSFER Gallery, this program explores the work of artists simultaneously embracing and subverting technology
Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits
For more than 30 years, interdisciplinary artist Coco Fusco has explored notions of race, identity and power through video and performance. She presents two intimate artist portraits centered on the body and the state in Cuba. Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank
jonCates: 鬼鎮 ( Ghosttown)
The influential work of Chicago-based new media artist jonCates mixes the urgency of punk with the poetics of glitch. His latest project, a glitch Western, takes shape as a feature film and interactive game that critiques the myths and ideology of the American West.
Persons with disabilities requesting accommodations should visit saic.edu/access
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.