Whole Grain: Conjurings for the [Un]seen

Still image from Xiuhtecuhtli (Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, 2023, 16 min., video), courtesy of Light Cone

Join us Monday, February 12, at 6 pm, for a Whole Grain: Experiments in Film & Video screening of Conjurings for the [Un]seen, a program of five short films about collective memories guest curated by Emily Abi-Kheirs, part of the curatorial team who organized the 2023 Flaherty NYC program MAKA: Many Eyed Vessel. Abi-Kheirs will present the program and discuss her curatorial practice.

In the spirit of the Flaherty Film Seminar, the full screening list will not be revealed until showtime.

Conjurings for the [Un]seen Program Notes

We have cast a spell on our collective memories—calling upon our ancestors to bridge meaning to shared experiences, realities, and understanding of place. The past, present, and future collide into one: on a path to envisioning.

This program was prepared as an offering from Emily Abi-Kheirs, inspired by the 2023 Flaherty Fall NYC Seminar MAKA: Many Eyed Vessel, which she curated collectively alongside Ha’aheo Auwae-Dekker, Isabel Rojas, and Raven Two Feathers. Read more about MAKA: Many Eyed Vessel.

dir. Vieira João Torres, 2015, 16 min., video

There is
what I see,
what is shown to me,
what I can’t see,
what I don’t see…

I was invited to film a ritual. One that can be shown to foreigners, to “dried-heads” like me. A child in the village watches Disney’s Fantasia on TV. He is interrupted. What the child lives when he dances? What am I able to see from what is shown to me?

João Vieira Torres French-Brazilian artist/filmmaker born in Recife, Brazil. He lives and works between France and Brazil. Obtained a masters degree in Photography and Video Art from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, followed by the post-graduation residency at Le Fresnoy-Studio National des Arts Contemporains (2010-12) and continued his research in thPHD programme «Document et Art Contemporain» at the École Sup. Européenne de l’Image. Vieira Torres uses various forms of artistic expression: photography, cinema, video art, performance. One of the main axes of their work is the issue of “foreignness” and forms of instability and perspectives breaking points that originate it. He has shown his work among other places at: Venice Biennale College (IT) / DocLisboa (PT) / New York Film Festival (US) / Kinoforum São Paulo (BR) / CentrePompidou(FR) / Palais de Tokyo (FR) / Edinburgh International Film Festival (UK) / Art of the Real Lincoln Center (US) / Ann Arbor Film Fest (US) / FIDMarseille(FR) / Olhar de Cinema (BR) / Rencontres Int. du Documentaire de Montréal (CA) / Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin (FR/DE) / Museu da Imagem e do som de São Paulo (BR) / Anthology Film Archives(US) / MIS São Paulo (BR) / LABoral (ESP) / IndieLisboa(PT) / Tampere Short Film Fest (FI) / Uniondocs New York (US) / Vilnius CAC(LT).

La Cabeza Mató a Todos
dir. Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, 2014, 8 min., video

La cabeza mató a todos or “The Head that Killed Everyone”, is a mixing of indigenous mythologies with present-day characters, geographies, and culture in Puerto Rico. The title refers to how a shooting star was (in local mythology) interpreted as a head without a body, crossing the sky, signaling the arrival of chaos and destruction. The actor in the video, Michelle Nonó, is in touch with native plants—she’s a medicinal botanist but also a cultural activist. She hosts cultural events in her house, in a primarily Afro-Caribbean and post-industrial area called Carolina.

Cats are very common on the island of Puerto Rico, and in this video, the cat is cast as a mythological entity, capable of world-altering transformations. The soundtrack further blends time and space as it alternates between a track from the Peruvian punk band, Los Psychos, and the chirping and croaking music of the coquí frog that populate Puerto Rico’s wet landscapes. These elements combine to imagine a spell that can destroy military industries, confronting the complexities of this system on a poetic plane rather than a rational one.

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz is an artist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She works in moving image with particular attention to social structures and their relationship to aesthetics. Her works arise out of long periods of research, observation and documentation, in which the camera is present as an object with social implications and as an instrument mediating aesthetic thought. Subjects of her recent work have been politically fraught: an artist accused of terrorism, post-military land, mega-factories, the relationship between artwork and work, and a concrete poet/union leader. Her film and video work is always in between the performance and its document, and sometimes unfolds into a double existence. Her work has been shown at the Tate Modern, Wattis Institute/CCA, Galería Kurimanzutto and the Guggenheim Museum. She recently completed projects commissioned by Glasgow International and the Bienal do Mercosul in Brazil, presented solo exhibitions in Gasworks and Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, and held artist residencies at Transmission in Glasgow and IASPIS in Stockholm.

The Tongue is an Island
dir. Ha'aheo Auwae-Dekker, 2023, 7 min., video).

Told through collections of memories, musings, and prose, this film seeks to discover the ways in which language shapes our relationship with ourselves and the land.

Ha’aheo Auwae-Dekker is a proud Kanaka Maoli artist, filmmaker, and storyteller from Waimea on Moku O Keawe, the Big Island of Hawai’i. As a storyteller, Ha’aheo is driven to create art that amplifies voices through embracing vulnerability. As a young Hawaiian who has lived in diaspora, their art has been their means of both reconnecting themselves and creating art that reflects an experience that becomes increasingly more common. For Ha’aheo, their work has shown them the power of Indigenous storytelling.

In Vitro
dirs. Søren Lind and Larissa Sansour, 2019, 28 min., video

In Vitro is set in the aftermath of an eco-disaster. An abandoned nuclear reactor under the biblical town of Bethlehem has been converted into an enormous orchard. Using heirloom seeds collected in the final days before the apocalypse, a group of scientists are preparing to replant the soil above. In the hospital wing of the underground compound, the orchard’s ailing founder, 70-year-old Dunia is lying in her deathbed, as 30-year-old Alia comes to visit her. Alia is born underground as part of a comprehensive cloning program and has never seen the town she’s destined to rebuild.

Larissa Sansour is a Palestinian artist/director. Central to her work is the tug and pull between fiction and reality. In her recent works, she uses science fiction to address social and political issues. Working mainly with film, Sansour also produces installations, photos and sculptures. Sansour’s work is shown in film festivals and museums worldwide. In 2019, she represents Denmark at the 58th Venice Biennial. She has shown her work at Tate Modern, MoMA, Centre Pompidou and the Istanbul Biennial as well as the Berlinale, Rotterdam International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. Recent solo exhibitions include Bluecoat in Liverpool, Dar El-Nimer in Beirut and Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen. Sansour lives and works in London.

Soren Lind (b. 1970) is a Danish author, director and scriptwriter. With a background in philosophy, Lind wrote books on mind, language and understanding before turning to film and fiction. He has published novels, shorts story collections and several children’s books. Lind screens and exhibits his films at museums, galleries and film festivals worldwide. Recent venues and festivals include the 58th Venice Biennial, MoMA (US), Barbican (UK), Nikolaj Kunsthal (DK), Berlinale (D), International Film Festival Rotterdam (NL) and BFI London Film Festival (UK). He lives and works in London.

dir. Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, 2023, 16 min., video

This is a rhythmic invocation of the ancestral fire, in which dazzling flames reanimate bones and natural elements. This is the shining of color.

Colectivo Los Ingrávidos (Tehuacán, Mexico) arises from the need to dismantle the audiovisual grammar that the aesthetic-television-cinematic corporativism has used and uses to effectively guarantee the diffusion of an audiovisual ideology by means of which a continuous social and perceptive control is maintained over the majority of the population. Politically charged yet involved with the sublime Los Ingrávidos inhabit Poetic realms that few dare to tread.

About Emily Abi-Kheirs

Abi-Kheirs is a nonfiction programmer and producer based in the Greater Boston area. She is currently the Programming Manager at GBH, a renowned public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content. Previously, she was the Manager of Filmmaker Services at Women Make Movies (WMM), where she supported femme-identifying filmmakers and industry leaders, providing opportunities and resources. Prior to WMM, she worked at WORLD Channel in a variety of capacities, including digital content strategy and creation, production management, and programming for their exclusive, award-winning documentary series. Recently, she collectively curated the 2023 Fall Flaherty NYC film seminar: MAKA: Many Eyed Vessel alongside Ha’aheo Auwae-Dekker, Isabel Rojas, and Raven Two Feathers. In 2022, she was recognized by DOC NYC as a Documentary New Leader.

About Whole Grain

The Tang Teaching Museum’s Whole Grain series explores classic and contemporary work in experimental film and video. Whole Grain is programmed by Assistant Director for Engagement Tom Yoshikami. All events are free and open to the public.

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