We Will Show You Film in a Handful of Dust
Thom Andersen • Caetlin Benson-Allott • Richard Birkett • Evan Calder Williams • Ed Keller • Maryam Monalisa Gharavi • Carla Leitao • Pablo de Ocampo • Lucy Raven • Jason Simon • Alberto Toscano • Oraib Toukan
To what degree does industrial cinema, through the degradation of its surface that obscurely reveals the history and trajectory of each print, generate its own critical cinema? How have critical practices developed—not through opposition to industrial cinema—but from the cues given? How has industrial cinema, both in its period of strength and in its mutations into the ancillary and streaming economy, borrowed back what it tossed away, reincorporating the operations of critical cinema into its own history?
This discussion begins on the literal surface of films, with the scratches, dust, patches, and stains that come to mark a reel over the course of its circulation, as it is projected again and again over weeks, months, and years. These marks accumulate as it moves from first-run theaters in the city center out to the third-, fourth-, fifth-runs of periphery, until, exhausted of value by dint of no longer being adequately novel or having become too scratched to satisfy a paying audience, it comes to a stop: occasionally in an archive, but above all, in a basement or a dumpster. In this process of material and economic degradation, we get a glimpse of a different map of the city—not the one filmed, but the one where the film was projected; not in what the images contain, but in what obscures them.
—Evan Calder Williams (Keynote)
The Jaffe Colloquia is a series of exchanges that brings together small groups of artists, curators, and theorists to informally discuss ideas centered around the conditions of, and perspectives on, time-based arts.
These events take the form of closed group discussion; however, sessions will be recorded and subsequently made available online.
Thom Andersen has lived in Los Angeles for most of his life. In the 1960s, he made short films, including Melting (1965), Olivia’s Place (1966), and --- ------- (1967, with Malcolm Brodwick). In 1974, he completed Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer, an hour-long documentation of Muybridge’s photographic work. In 1995, with Noël Burch, he completed Red Hollywood, a video about the filmwork created by the victims of the Hollywood blacklist. Their work on the history of the blacklist also produced a book, Les communistes de Hollywood: Autre chose que des martyrs, published in 1994. In 2003, he completed Los Angeles Plays Itself, a video about the representation of Los Angeles in movies. It won the National Film Board of Canada Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2003 Vancouver International Film Festival, and it was voted best documentary of 2004 in the Village Voice Film Critics’ Poll. He has taught film composition at the California Institute of the Arts since 1987.
Caetlin Benson-Allott is an assistant professor of English at Georgetown University and core faculty member in its Film and Media Studies Program. Her work on distribution, home video, and ancillary platform spectatorship has appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly, the Journal of Visual Culture, Jump Cut, Film Quarterly, In Media Res, the Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and multiple anthologies. Her monograph, Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing has recently been published with University of California Press. She is the 2009 winner of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Dissertation Award and the co-chair of its women's caucus. After winning Film Quarterly's 50th Anniversary Review Essay Competition, she continued to write for the journal and is now a regular columnist and contributing editor. She teaches courses on US film history, film, and new media theory, gender and technology studies, and the horror genre.
Richard Birkett is a curator at Artists Space, New York. He studied fine art at the Slade School of Fine Art and Goldsmiths College in London before running the nonprofit gallery Whitechapel Project Space for six years beginning in 2002. He was curator at the ICA, London from 2007 to 2010, where he curated and organized exhibitions and events including Nought to Sixty, Talk Show(with Will Holder), Calling Out Of Context (with Jamie Eastman), Cosey Complex (with Maria Fusco), Billy Childish: Unknowable But Certain (with Matthew Higgs) and Chto Delat?: The Urgent Need to Struggle. In 2010, he moved to Artists Space, New York, and has curated projects such as Radical Localism: Art, Video and Culture from Pueblo Nuevo’s Mexicali Rose (with Chris Kraus and Marco Vera), “Identity” (with Stefan Kalmár)and Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years (with Stefan Kalmár). In 2012, he was nominated for the ICI Independent Vision Curatorial Award, and curated the seventh White Columns Annual.
Evan Calder Williams is a writer, theorist, and artist. He is currently completing his dissertation, The fog of class war: cinema, circulation, and communism in the Italian long '70s, in the Literature Department at University of California Santa Cruz. He is the author of two books, Combined and Uneven Apocalypse and Roman Letters, and he writes for Film Quarterly, Mute, and The New Inquiry (where his blog Socialism and/or Barbarism resides). His performances have been presented at the Whitney Biennial, New York; Serpentine Gallery, London; Artists Space, New York; and Tramway, Glasgow. He was a 2011-2012 Fulbright Fellow in Italy and will be a 2013-2014 visiting scholar at The New School in New York City.
Edward Keller is a designer, writer, musician, and multimedia artist, as well as associate professor and director of the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons The New School for Design. He previously taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation from 1998-2010, and at Southern California Institute of Architecture from 2004-2009, where he was founder and coordinator of the MediaSCAPES program. With Carla Leitao, he co-founded AUM Studio, an architecture and new media firm producing residential projects, competitions, and installations in Europe and the US. Keller’s work and writing are widely published, and he has lectured internationally on architecture, film, technology, and ecology.
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is a writer and filmmaker. She has contributed poetry, essays, and critical writing to a variety of publications, and her solo and collaborative films have screened at Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Anthology Film Archives, Boston Palestine Film Festival, and Pacific Film Archive, among others. She founded the blog/open text South/South and is editor-at-large at The New Inquiry. She holds a PhD. in comparative literature and film and visual studies from Harvard University, where she currently is a lecturer in history and literature.
Carla Leitao is an architect and writer who lives and works in New York and Lisbon. She is the co-founder, with Ed Keller, of AUM Studio in NY and Umasideia in Lisbon. She has taught architecture studios and seminars at RPI, University of Pennsylvania, Pratt Institute, Cornell University, and City College; and co-taught at Columbia University. Practice and academic endeavors focus on convergences of urban phenomena, ubiquitous cultures, digital communication, and the generation of political and cultural innovation. Publications include 4 Lines (Akademie Schloss Solitude)and City Fragments (CBA). Projects include built and ongoing residential and institutional projects. Exhibitions and installations include Suture (Southern California Institute of Architecture and Telic Gallery, LA), True Romance (Stuttgart), and Young Blood (Lisbon). She writes on architecture, design, and technology for the Huffington Post.
Pablo de Ocampo is a film curator living in Toronto, where he is artistic director of the Images Festival, one of the largest platforms for the exhibition of artist made film and video in North America. He has curated screenings, exhibitions, and performances at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto), Gallery TPW (Toronto), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art/TBA Festival, Kino Arsenal (Berlin), Conversations at the Edge (Chicago), Aurora Picture Show (Houston), Experimenta (Bangalore), ruangrupa (Jakarta), OK Video Festival (Jakarta), EXiS (Seoul), Scratch Projection/Lightcone (Paris), and the British Film Institute (London). Prior to his position at the Images Festival, de Ocampo lived in Portland, Oregon, where he co-founded the collectively run screening series, Cinema Project.
Lucy Raven lives in New York City and Oakland, California. Her work has been included in exhibitions and screenings internationally including Hammer Projects, the Hammer Museum, LA (2013); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); and 11 Rooms, Manchester International Festival, Manchester, United Kingdom (2011). Raven is a contributing editor to BOMB magazine, and her writing has appeared in publications such as Rachel Harrison: Museum With Walls (Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College/Whitechapel Gallery/Portikus, 2010) and Deborah Stratman: Tactical Uses of a Belief in the Unseen (Gahlberg Gallery, 2010). She was the co-curator with Fionn Meade of Nachleben at the Goethe Institute, New York (2010); co-curator with Regine Basha and Rebecca Gates of The Marfa Sessions at Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas (2008); associate producer on Urbanized (2012); and co-producer of a series of online documentaries for the Oakland Museum of California (2012).
Jason Simon is a media artist working across disciplines of film/video and alternative exhibitions. He is currently associate professor of media culture at CUNY, New York. His videos and installations are experimental documents focusing on the intersection of consumption and culture. In 2007, Jason Simon: Three Videos was issued on DVD, and in 2005 he co-founded the influential, three-year Lower East Side cooperative gallery project Orchard. He has shown videos, installations, photographs, and sound sculptures at institutions internationally including the Pat Hearn Gallery, the Whitney Museum Biennial Exhibition, and the American Fine Arts Co. His writings have appeared in Artforum, Parkett, Springerin, and Afterimage, and he has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Art Matters, the Washington State Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Polaroid Foundation. Simon implemented the Art and Technology Laboratory at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus Ohio, was a segment producer for the PBS series Signal to Noise, and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, William Patterson University, and the Royal Danish Fine Art Academy.
Alberto Toscano teaches sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is an editor of the journal Historical Materialism and the author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea and The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze. He is currently completing a book on the aesthetics of the economy with Jeff Kinkle entitled Cartographies of the Absolute. Toscano also serves as editor of the Italian List for Seagull Books, and he has recently completed the translation of Franco Fortini's The Dogs of the Sinai, to be released in fall 2013 with Straub-Huillet's film Fortini/Cani.
Oraib Toukan lives in New York and teaches and works in Ramallah, Palestine and Amman, Jordan. Recent exhibitions include the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial, the Mori Art Museum, the 11th Istanbul Biennial, Kunstraum Muenchen, NGBK Berlin, the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, and Iniva, among others. She works across media in a process she calls “mimicry-as-method,” often looking to unpack discreet institutional interventions and historiographical absurdities specific to exhibition making. Together with Ala Younis, they formed Aflam Amman, an offshoot of the collaborative project aFilmArchive.net that worked on 900 found films from the former Soviet Cultural Center in Amman. Toukan has a background in photography and an interdisciplinary MFA from Bard College. She has lectured widely on the materiality of the photograph in film, the landscape in militant cinema on Palestine, and the representation of the public intellectual on Google images. She will be heading the arts division of Bard College at Al-Quds University.
The Jaffe Colloquia is made possible by the Jaffe Fund For Experimental Media and Performing Arts.
If all the films in an average human life could for once be replayed in reverse, the eye, like an all-seeing probe plunged in the fathomless stream of human consciousness, would hit upon a point somewhere deep down, a hard bedrock, a fact, an event, an image, an undefined and flickering sensation. It would be tattered and faded, yet inflected with such a strange hue that the current of time flowing through one's life would absorb its indefinable color for good.
—Bruno Jasieński, I Burn Paris (1927)