Saturday, March 9

11:30 am

Suranjan Ganguly 
Celebrating Stan: A Brakhage Screening


2:00 pm

Laida Lertxundi

Footnotes to a House of Love (2007, 13 min.)
A series of shots in a California desert landscape in which there is a play between on frame and off frame, sound and image. There is an effort to create the space of a story, without a story, by the use of real time/diegetic sound. Love is felt as a force that determines the arrangement of the figures in the landscape.

My Tears are Dry (2009, 4 min.)
A film in three parts of a dialectic. Hoagy Land's song is played and interrupted as guitar makes sound, two women, a bed, an armchair, and the beautiful outside. After Bruce Baillie's All My Life. The lyrics of the song reference the eternal sunshine of California and its promises. 

Cry When it Happens / Llora Cuando Te Pase (2010, 14 min.)
Los Angeles City Hall is reflected onto the window of the Paradise Motel. It serves as an anchor for this traversal through the natural expanse of California. Here, we discover a restrained psychodrama of play, loss, and the transformation of everyday habitats. Music appears across the interiors and exteriors and speaks of limitlessness and longing.

The Room Called Heaven (2012, 11 min.)
American plains and high altitudes assembled in a B-roll structure take us to a place of sounds*. Plansaméricains show color and temperature shifts while an emotional room tone is sustained for the length of a 400-feet camera roll.

*Vision: Sound on Screen, Michel Chion.

025 Sunset Red (2016, 14 min.)
025 Sunset Red is a kind of quasi-autobiographical reckoning. An indiscernibility of then and now. Recollection and immediacy. Delicacy and virility. The elusive and the haptic. The Basque Country and California. It’s a set of echoes of an upbringing by communist radicals, not as nostalgia but as a way of making sense, of finding practical applications of the past in the present. Within the film, blood is collected and poured, red filters cover landscapes, and images of desire are both produced and observed. The film is a diaphanous, psychedelic foray into the domestic and the political, looking at ways that politics may erupt, shape a life, form a sensibility, and become inscribed upon a body.

Vivir para Vivir / Live to Live (2015, 11 min.)
A certain trajectory of being lost is drawn across sparsely populated mountain regions while physical processes from heartbeat to orgasm shape image, sound and color patterns until the horizon is reached.


4:00 pm

Nazlı Dinçel

Between Relating and Use (2018, Argentina/USA, 9 min.)
Laser Engraver, Ektachrome
Borrowing words from Laura Mark's "Transnational Object" and D.W. Winnicott's "Transitional Object", this film is an attempt to ethically make work in a foreign land. Transitioning from assuming the position of an ethnographer, we turn and explore inwards--on how we use our lovers. 

Shape of a Surface (2017, Turkey, 9 min.)
The ground holds accounts of once pagan, then christian and now muslim ruins of the city built for Aphrodite. As she takes revenge on Narcissus, mirrors reveal what is seen and surfaces, limbs dismantle and marble turns flesh.

Solitary Acts #4 (2015, 8 min.)
Wittnerchrome, Exacto Knife, Typewriter
The filmmaker films herself masturbate the object of debate. She hears others claim her body, her habits: those in her conservative surroundings as a child. The viewer claims her as well, by watching her in this private act. She is 9 years old, then 12. She observes popular icons, dismissing the agency of their body, she then rejects the other, objects outside of her body: with some teenage angst, denies climax to everyone else but herself.

Solitary Acts #5 (2015, 5.5 min.)
Wittnerchrome, Exacto knife, Fishing Line, Sewing Machine
The filmmaker films herself practice kissing with a mirror. She recalls teenage memories of overconsumption, confusing oral fixations that are both sexual (kissing) and bodily (eating). She ends up eating the carrot she is masturbating with, and she feels a sense of cannibalism. The components of the background of the scene are broken down and filmed in extreme closeups. These wave and play with one another: when text is overconsumed it becomes the image by wiping it out, then the image becomes the fabric where the filmmaker physically attaches the film together with fishing line.

Solitary Acts #6 (2015, 11 min.)
Wittnerchrome, Exacto Knife, 1.5mm Letter Punches, Hammer, Leather Puncher
This is a feminist critique of the Oedipal complex. It is not the male child's desire to have sexual relations with the mother. It is the mother's desire to be sexually attracted to child-like men. The filmmaker recounts an abortion she had in 2009. If she had the child, he would have turned six in 2015. The aborted child survives and becomes her lover. The filmmaker films her subject in a private act, complicating what could be considered a solitary act.

There are three endings to the film. First, is a recount of the child's earliest sexual memory, similar to the filmmaker's, the text is hammered on the film with letter punches. Second, is a letter written to the filmmaker from her subject, is read by the filmmaker, the image is punched out with a leather puncher and carefully replaced into blackness not to lose motion. A pop song from 2009 is used, the one the filmmaker heard while driving in the taxi from her abortion. The film concludes by a letter written to the subject by the filmmaker. In this third part, the audio is broken apart and the letter is reversed, mimicking the reverse masturbation (the image).

Untitled (2016, 12 min.) iphone 4 video

Instructions on How to Make a Film (2018, 13 min.)
3378 hi-con, Laser Engraver, Exacto Knife
Shot at the Film Farm in Mt. Forest, this comedy is a quest about performance, educational voiceover, analogue filmmaking, ASCII, language, ethics of ethnography and narrative storytelling under a metaphor of instructions to farm land. Text by Barbara Kirstenblatt-Gimblett and Wikihow/shoot-film.


7:30 pm

Cauleen Smith

Pilgrim (2016, 7:41 min.)
Personal pilgrimages to three sites of extreme creativity, invention, and generosity: Alice Coltrane's Ashram, Watts Towers, and Watervliet Shaker Community.

Three Songs about Liberation  (2017, 9:27 min.)
Three monologs adapted from the groundbreaking book, Black Women in White America, edited by Gerda Lerner. Uses Dziga Vertov’s Three Songs about Lenin as a foundation for using cinema to think through tactics of liberation and self-determination. Films commissioned by the Smart Museum, University of Chicago, in conjunction with "Revolution Every Day", curated by Zachary Cahill, Robert Bird, Diane Miliotes and Christina Kiear.

H-E-L-L-O (2014, 11:06 min.)
Composer, John Williams, devised an enigmatic five-note sequence, G-A-F-F-G for the gregarious aliens in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, using light and sound patterns to teach humans how to communicate with them.  G-A-F-F-C < > H-E-L-L-O. A simple greeting dispensed as an exchange, a furtive gesture of recognition, goodwill, and curiosity. With an ear pressed to the ground, one might hear a resonant eternal love song for and from the city’s low end: deep, funky electric base lines, crawling river sediment deposits, thundering sousaphones, a plaintive lion’s roar, a riverboat salutation, the sub-Saharan foot stomp of a captive elephant, or the long slow slide of the trombone. Trombonist, Michael Watson, showed up for our river levy recording session wearing a t-shirt he declared to be his favorite that read: “Listen To Your City.” Listen indeed. And say Hello.

T Minus Two (2010,  2:31 min.)
A study in form. 

Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band (2011, 10:56 min.)
A March for Sun Ra. Performed by the Rich South High School Marching Band. Musical Director: Y.L. Douglas. Space Is The Place: Composed by Sun Ra. Arranged by Frederick Tapley. Location: Chinatown Square, Chicago.

Good Clean Family Fun (2010, 3:51 min.)
A poem.

Songs for Earth and Folk (2013, 10:40 min.)
Structured as a traditional blues song, this planetary lament was commissioned by the Chicago Film Archive.

Sojourner (2018, 22:03 min.)
Hot spots radical generosity and radical feminist initiative form a constellation which proposes a vibrant feminist utopia.


Sunday, March 10

Refiguration: Contemporary Experiments from the Middle East and North Africa
Curator: Rachael Rakes

In these two thematic programs, artists from or working in the Middle East, Gulf, North Africa, and diaspora consider the contemporary body as object in flux, as always under re-interpretation over time and through the re-circulation of images.


2:00 pm

Program 1

Bodies performed, recovered, uncovered

The program shifts from encounters with physical expression to confrontations of gender roles, to a more phenomenological enquiry into the body
itself--in war, in hiding, and in representation.

Wa Waila/Oh Torment (Monira Al Qadiri, 2008, 10 min.)
Part of a series of Monira Al Qadiri’s surreal, gender-bending takes on traditional ballads, this music video renders the original Kuawiti anthem’s themes of tragic love and heartbreak through new visions of identity.

The Mute Tongue (Mounira Al Sohl, 2010, 21 min.)
In a sequence of silent vignettes, Lebanese director Mounira Al Sohl directs Croatian performer and artist Sinisa Labrovic (who does not speak Arabic) to physically articulate 19 Arabic proverbs and sayings.

Interrupted Biographies (Mirna Abamieh, 2014, 11 min.)
At the center of this haunting work is a home-video tape recorded in Beirut in 1996 through which Mirna Abamieh revisits the choices and impositions of politics and history on the physical lives of those dearest to her.

Grain (belit sag, 2016, 5 min.)
In this short work, belit sag researched political prisoners in Turkey who went on hunger strike against isolated captivity in 2000, then edited the gruesome images into abstracted material while telling their stories.

O, Persecuted (Basma Alsharif, 2014, 12 min.)
In O, Persectured, Kassem Hawal’s 1974 Palestinian militant film, Our Small Houses, becomes an object performance featuring bodies, hopes, and movements of the past from a contemporary perspective.

Abu Athiyya/Father of Pain (Monira Al Qadiri, 2013, 6 min.)
Based on the Iraqi Mawwal (lamentation) song as performed by the famous southern Iraqi singer Yas Khodhor, here the artist plays the role of the singer in a funerary setting, performing a knife-dancing ritual akin to the choreography of the legendary Iraqi gypsy dancer Malayeen.


4:00 pm

Program 2

Reposessed Figures

This second program features two works of found footage art that seek to resurrect and redefine their subjects through material reconstitution.

Satellite Telefizyoon, (Nahed Mansour, 2013, 5 min.)
The footage of Satellite Telefizyoon stems from a popular 1980s Egyptian television show titled Fawazeer/Riddles. In these segments, iconic singer and actress Sherihan appropriates the apparent mannerisms of an unnamed country, asking her audience to guess the identity. This re-working highlights the Egyptian media’s stereotypical depictions of other cultures as an appendage of the state’s 1980s modernizing project.

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni, (Rania Stephan, 2011, 68 min.)
The beloved Egyptian actress Soad Hosni, who performed in 82 features, committed suicide in 2001. Here Rania Stephan reconstructs her dynamic and tragic life, using fragments of VHS films in which Hosni starred. Over the course of this poetic and visceral portrait, Stephan captures decades of intense social and political change, and demonstrates the specific materiality of this media format now obsolete.


All events are free and open to the public!


The 15th Brakhage Center Symposium is sponsored by:
The Roser Visiting Artist Program

Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

The William H. Donner Foundation