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The Blazeing Familiar: Recent Film & Video from Chicago

Friday, February 28, 7:30 PM
@ CineCycle, 129 Spadina Avenue

Part of Winter 2014

Something is in the wind in Chicago, home to a profusion of diverse and original film & video makers. Far from a “best of” program, this group of works presents the varied talents and strange adjacencies emerging from the “city on the make” in the last decade. With artists who have lived and learned in Chicago, we draw out works representing lines of influence, cultivated sensibilities, and the (dis)connective tissue that constitutes the corpus of a film community. Inspired by the uncanny shifts and destabilizing perspective, scale, and space presented in Marianna Milhorat’s Une Terre Familière, this program brings together speculative futures, forgotten cultural histories, and haptic tableaus from Basma Alsharif, Buki Bodunrin, Lyra Hill, Karen Johannesen, Kent Lambert, Marianna Milhorat, Andrew Mausert-Mooney, and Deborah Stratman.


Une Terre Familière – Marianna Milhorat (2013, 18 min., video)
Where is there to belong to? To not feel strange? To not ask permission? Ground. Home. A familiar land.

The Golden Chain – Buki Bodunrin (2013, 6 min., video)
The African Woman: mother of civilization, historically overlooked member of contemporary global society. She finds herself now in a distant, not-impossible future. A Nigerian space station in a remote nook of the solar system orbits a pinpoint of matter so dense it cannot exist on Earth. It is a recreation of the birth of the universe itself, contained for the purpose of study, and overseen by Yetunde, chief science engineer on the space station Eko. This animation is the story of an archetype come full circle. Blending afrofuturist motifs with hard science fiction, we create a world at once fantastical, yet entirely plausible, in order to ask the question: “Where will we go, given where we came from?”

…These Blazeing Starrs! – Deborah Stratman (2011, 14 min., 16mm)
“Since comets have been recorded, they’ve augured disaster: catastrophe, messiahs, upheaval and end times. A short film about these meteoric ice-cored fireballs and their historic ties to divination that combines imagery of 15th-18th century European broadsides with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory footage.

…These Blazeing Starrs! juxtaposes a modern empirical desire to probe and measure against older methods, when star gazers were translators, explicating the sky more intuitively for predictions of human folly. Comets are now understood as time capsules harboring elemental information about the formation of our solar system. Today we smash rockets into them to read spectral signatures. In a sense, they remain oracles – it’s just the manner of divining which has changed.

…These Blazeing Starrs!
Threaten the World
with Famine, Plague, & Warrs:
To Princes, Death:
to Kingdoms, many Crosses:
To all Estates, inevitable Losses!
To Herds-men, Rot’
to Plowmen, haples Seasons:
To Saylors, Storms;
to Cittyes, Civil Treasons.
– Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, 1578″

Parapeti’em – Andrew Mausert-Mooney (2010, 2.5 min., 16mm on video)
“I employ methodologies that juxtapose the artificiality of the mediums with the specificity and delicate naturalism of my materials. In my films and animations I am exposing the artificiality of surface to arrive at the real.”

Security Anthem – Kent Lambert (2003, 3 min., video)
An ode to flowers, fear, potatoes, and paranoia, with a special appearance by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The Mystic – Lyra Hill (2012, 8 min., 16mm)
The Mystic is sitting across from himself and gazing into a crystal ball. The Mystic is an exercise in the perils of hypnotism. The Mystic is a brutally experiential joke about the narcissism of divination. The effects in The Mystic were originally created in-camera on one 100ft roll of color negative film. These include: bi-packing with a strip of clear leader sewn with sequins, creating paper mattes of circles and text, and multiple exposures with more custom mattes, photographed with one actor (Aj Cesena) on a simple set. These processes required six passes through the camera. The roll was then rephotographed on an optical printer and extended to its current running time of eight minutes. The soundtrack is made up of chopped and manipulated laugh tracks and audience sounds.

Light Speed – Karen Johannesen (2007, 5.5 min., Super 8)
High velocity images of rapid fire movement, intense zooms, patterns flying across the screen. Expanding and contracting shadows and light.

Everywhere was the Same – Basma AlSharif (2007, 11 min., video)
In an empty room, a slideshow projection of abandoned places plays alongside the narrative of two girls who find themselves on the shores of a pre-apocalyptic paradise. Told through subtitle text that weaves fact and fiction together, the story of a massacre unfolds. When the image and text malfunctions and the story is no longer comprehensible, the video wanders away from the room of the slideshow, allowing us to see what is happening elsewhere.


Marianna Milhorat (b. 1983) is a Chicago-based filmmaker, originating from Vermont, USA. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2012 and BFA from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinéma at Concordia University in 2007. Working in film and video, she utilizes landscape and duration to disrupt and transform notions of space and perspective.

Milhorat’s work has screened internationally at festivals, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Images Festival. Her work has received awards at festivals including the Images Festival, EXIS (Ex-Now), and the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

Adebukola Bodunrin is a film, video, and installation artist who explores language, culture, and media. In her collage animations, she manipulates film using unorthodox manual and digital techniques in order to produce unexpected cinematic experiences. Bodunrin completed her Master of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been screened or exhibited nationally and internationally at venues that include the Jersey City Museum of Art, the Scope Art Fair, Onion City Film Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Nightingale, Chicago, Festival Animator, Poznań, Poland, Ok,Quoi? festival, Sackville, New Brunswick, Anthology Film Archives, New York, and the Black Cinema House, Chicago. She was an artist in residence at the Chicago Artists Coalition as a participant of the BOLT residency, which is funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation. She lives and works in Chicago.

Deborah Stratman is a Chicago-based artist and filmmaker interested in landscapes and systems. Her films, rather than telling stories, pose a series of problems – and through their at times ambiguous nature, allow for a complicated reading of the questions being asked. Much of her work points to the relationships between physical environments and the very human struggles for power and control that are played out on the land. Most recently, they have questioned elemental historical narratives about faith, freedom, sonic subterfuge, expansionism and the paranormal. Stratman works in multiple mediums, including sculpture, photography, drawing and audio. She has exhibited internationally at venues including the Whitney Biennial, MoMA NY, the Pompidou, Hammer Museum, Witte de With, Walker Art Center, Yerba Buena Center, and has done site-specific projects with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Temporary Services, Mercer Union (Toronto), Blaffer Gallery (Houston), Klondike Institute of Art & Culture (Yukon) and Ballroom Gallery (Marfa). Stratman’s films have been featured at numerous international festivals including Sundance, the Viennale, Full Frame, Ann Arbor, Oberhausen and Rotterdam. She is the recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, a Creative Capital award, and she currently teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Mausert-Mooney is the 2008 recipient of the Aunspaugh Fellowship in Studio Art. His most recent film, flok, has been accepted to the Cinevegas Film Festival in Las Vegas.
“I am interested in people who, upon being confronted with the inevitability of death, are committed to performing the impossible. It seems that creating is somehow involved with such peoples every day, and the failures in crafting this artificiality strike me as the most real moments. If movies are lies, look for the moments the actors acknowledge the camera, the seams in the scenery, when the camera goes out of focus. These are exhilarating instances that remind me of a community of passionate failures.”

Kent Lambert was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1976. He lives and works in Chicago. As an undergraduate at the University of Iowa in the late1990s, he took inspiration from Steve Reich, Martin Arnold, Craig Baldwin, Negativland, Duchamp and other appropriationists and began making surreal, humorous, emotionally evocative and often politically charged videos from discarded VHS tapes and other pop-culture refuse. In subsequent years, his videos were screened at festivals across the world and at such venues as Other Cinema in San Francisco and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Kent has performed an original live score to Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr on multiple occasions and recently composed the score for the National Geographic Channel documentary Witness DC: 9/11. He is the singer, songwriter and keytarist for the pop band Roommate.

Lyra Hill is a filmmaker and cartoonist living in Chicago. She works primarily with 16mm and S8, and focuses on the avant-garde in both her film and comics work. She is the founder and organizer of Brain Frame, the performative comics reading series, and a member of Trubble Club, the cartoonist collective. Her work has appeared in numerous alternative publications, and her films have screened internationally.

Karen Johannesen is a filmmaker and the Director & Programmer of Chicago 8 Small Gauge Film Festival. She has traveled with a program of films from the Chicago 8 Film Festival as a visiting artist to: CalArts, San Francisco Cinematheque, Otis College of Art & Design, and Echo Park Film Center. She has also been a visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute & the University of Minnesota @ Minneapolis. Some of the places Karen has exhibited her works are: San Francisco Cinematheque, Anthology Film Archive, The Toronto International Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art NY, The International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Center of Contemporary Culture (Barcelona), Media City Film Festival (Canada), and The Korean Super 8 Experimental Film Festival, The Busan Short Film Festival (Korea), KLEX (Malaysia) The Experimental Film Conference (England), Onion City Film Festival, and Antimatter (Canada).

Basma Al Sharif works with photography, film, video, sound, text and language to explore visual communication at an intuitive level. Using language as a response to images and images as a response to the aesthetic of text, she attempts to reveal the unreliability of facts, history, numbers, and statistics. Al Sharif’s work wavers between fiction and fantasy to experiment with non-linear narratives that explore subjective experiences in relation to political landscapes. At the 9th Sharjah Biennial she presented the video We Began by Measuring Distance (2009) for which she received a Biennial Prize.

Al Sharif’s work has been shown in numerous events and film festivals internationally including Manifesta, Kassel (2010), the Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto (2010), The London Palestine Film Festival, London (2010), Rencontres Internationales, Paris (2009), the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Chicago (2009), the Festival International Cinéma Méditerranéen, Montpellier (2009), DocuDays 9: Beirut International Documentary Festival, Beirut (2009), The Jerusalem Show, Jerusalem (2008), Images du Moyen-Orient Musee Jeu Du Paume, Paris (2007), ARTEAST Cinema East Film Festival, New York (2007) and Gallery Peep, Sweden (2004) where she was a guest student at the Malmö Art Academy, Lund University. She was a recipient of the Fundación Marcelino Botín Visual Arts Grant in 2009-2010. Born in Kuwait of Palestinian origin, Basma Al Sharif received an MFA from the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Chicago, specialising in photography, film and video. She has also lectured at the University of Illinois, Chicago (2005-07), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2008) and the American University of Cairo (2008). Al Sharif currently lives and works in Beirut.

Everywhere was the Same, Basma AlSharif

Everywhere was the Same, Basma AlSharif (2007, 11 min., video)
Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank

Everywhere was the Same, Basma AlSharif

Everywhere was the Same, Basma AlSharif (2007, 11 min., video)
Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank

Une Terre Familière – Marianna Milhorat

Une Terre Familière – Marianna Milhorat (2013, 18 min., video)

The Mystic – Lyra Hill

The Mystic – Lyra Hill (2012, 8 min., 16mm)

The Mystic – Lyra Hill

The Mystic – Lyra Hill (2012, 8 min., 16mm)

The Golden Chain – Buki Bodunrin

The Golden Chain – Buki Bodunrin (2013, 6 min., video)

The Golden Chain – Buki Bodunrin

The Golden Chain – Buki Bodunrin (2013, 6 min., video)

Security Anthem – Kent Lambert

Security Anthem – Kent Lambert (2003, 3 min., video)

…These Blazeing Starrs! – Deborah Stratman

…These Blazeing Starrs! – Deborah Stratman (2011, 14 min., 16mm on video)

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