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April 13, 2018

Italian premiere of the International Media Mixer

The Italian premiere of the International Media Mixer project on Sunday March 11, 2018 was such a powerful experience—it’s difficult to put it into words. If you aren’t familiar with the project you can read more about it here. CFA’s Media Mixer project began in 2013 as a way to inspire the creative reuse of our films by contemporary artists working in video and sound. With the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund, this was our first international iteration of the project, and it has been an enormous success!

Video documentation courtesy of the Bergamo Film Meeting

We worked with independent curator Karianne Fiorini to invite two filmmakers based in Chicago, Lori Felker and Domietta Torlasco, to create two new videos using footage from the Lab 80 film – Cinescatti archive, and three filmmakers based in Italy, Yan Cheng & Federico Francioni and Giuseppe Boccassini, to create two new videos using footage from CFA’s archive. The filmmakers were asked to explore, use and interpret this material—from another culture, another country and another era—as they liked. We then paired the US-based filmmakers with Italian musicians and the Italian-based filmmakers with Chicago-based musicians to create soundtracks for the new video pieces. This resulted in a truly collaborative project that brought together artists in Italy and Chicago, as well as our two regional film archives based in Chicago and Bergamo. Four new videos were created by these talented artists. We are in awe of their dedication to the archival film material and their hard work, generosity, and creativity.

Sound musicians Alex Inglizian and Tomeka Reid (joined by Nick Mazzarella) travelled from the US to Italy where they met their Italian counterparts Patrizia Oliva and Stefano Urkuma De Santis for the first time. Sunday began with a lovely lunch hosted by Lab 80 film (thank you to everyone at Lab80, Sergio Visinoni & Giulia Castelletti) where we were finally all in the same room. We got to know one another in the best possible way – over a delicious meal of food from the Puglia region of Italy! After working primarily over email (and across the Atlantic Ocean), this was the first time that sound artists Alex Inglizian and Tomeka Reid met their collaborative partners Giuseppe Boccassini, Federico Francioni, and Yan Cheng. We had a lovely time and quickly moved over to the beautiful festival exhibition space, the Salla Alla Porta S. Agostino (an arched passageway built in 1781 as an armed gate for the Venetian Walls that surround Bergamo’s Cittá Alta) to sound check.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. L-R: Curator Karianne Fiorini, BFM translator, CFA curator Michelle Puetz, Giulia Casteletti (Lab 80 film – Cinescatti), Sergio Visinoni (Lab 80 film – Cinescatti & BFM), Patrizia Oliva, Stefano Urkuma De Santis, Alex Inglizian, Giuseppe Boccassini, Federico Francioni, Nick Mazzarella, Tomeka Reid, Yan Cheng.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Entrance to the Salla Alla Porta S. Agostino and a poster for the festival’s exhibition dedicated to the work of Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman.

The event began at 7:15 and, following an introduction by the team from Lab 80 film – Cinescatti, Bergamo Film Meeting festival director Angelo Signorelli, and curators Karianne Fiorini and Michelle Puetz, we moved into the screening and performance. Each piece was introduced by the artists in attendance, who provided insight into the works and their collaborative process. A heavy rain outside created a haunting atmosphere for the screening. The crowd was great, and each piece looked and sounded beautiful. The live performances by Alex Inglizian, Patrizia Oliva, Tomeka Reid (joined by Nick Mazzarella on saxophone & Federico Francioni on whirly tube!), and Stefano Urkuma De Santis were truly exceptional.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. L-R: Curator Karianne Fiorini, BFM translator, CFA curator Michelle Puetz, Giulia Casteletti (Lab 80 film – Cinescatti), Sergio Visinoni (Lab 80 film – Cinescatti & BFM).

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Patrizia Oliva performing MEMORIA DATA (Lori Felker & Patrizia Oliva, 2018, 12 min).

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Patrizia Oliva performing MEMORIA DATA.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Stefano Urkuma De Santis performing PARALLAX DASH (Domietta Torlasco & Stefano Urkuma De Santis, 2018, 8 min).

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Tomeka Reid and Nick Mazzarella performing OCTAVIA (Federico Francioni/Yan Cheng & Tomeka Reid, 2018, 14 min).

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Tomeka Reid performing OCTAVIA.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. Alex Inglizian performing TEMPLE OF TRUTH (Giuseppe Boccassini & Alex Inglizian, 2018, 15 min).

The screening / live performance was followed by a reception (thank you, again, to Lab80 and the Bergamo Film Meeting Festival), and the artists had the chance to relax and talk with the audience.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. L-R: Tomeka Reid, Federico Francioni, Nick Mazzarella, Yan Cheng.

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Photo by Giancarlo Brunelli. L-R: Federico Francioni, Michelle Puetz, Alex Inglizian, Nick Mazzarella, Yan Cheng.

Relatives of some of the individuals featured in archival material from the Cinescatti collections were in attendance, which was not only a surprise, but incredibly moving. They were so happy to see their family memories honored and transformed through the creation of these new pieces. We ended the evening with a fantastic dinner and lots of hugs. The entire experience was incredible—thank you to our Italian colleagues, and now friends (especially Karianne Fiorini, Angelo Signorelli, Sergio Visinoni, and Giulia Casteletti) for such a memorable experience. We can’t wait to see you again this summer for the Chicago premiere on July 17!

Read more about the talented artists we are working with on this project here.

The International Media Mixer has been made possible with the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Lab 80 film – Cinescatti, and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Chicago.


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April 6, 2018

Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film

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still image from Robert Stiegler’s Licht Spiel Nur I (circa 1967)

We are extremely proud to announce Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film - a four program film series that will screen in fall 2018 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s Art Design Chicago initiative. Art Design Chicago is a wide-ranging initiative spearheaded by the Terra Foundation and developed in partnership with more than 60 cultural organizations to explore the ongoing influence of Chicago’s art and design history.

Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film will present—for the very first time—a series of screenings that reframe the history of cinema in Chicago through various lenses and modes of production. This four program series will illuminate the diverse factors that have shaped the filmic landscape of the region from the mid-century through the 1970s. The first program in the series, “Form and Function: The Legacy of the Institute of Design,” provides historical context and a new perspective on the lasting impact of Lászlo Moholy-Nagy’s teachings at the New Bauhaus. The second and third programs, focused on industrial, commercial, sponsored, and advertising films, examine the innovative design work being done on film in the mid-century. The final program in the series, “Personal Legacies: Materiality and Abstraction,” presents personal and experimental films made by the artists who worked for the design studios and corporations highlighted in the second and third programs of the series. As a whole, the series tells a chapter of Chicago’s history on film that has yet to be seen.

Program 1: “Form and Function: The Legacy of the Institute of Design” Select films include Mort’s Personal Reel (mid-1950s-1979); IIT (1971), a sponsored film that shows scenes of student life at IIT; International Design Conference in Aspen: The First Decade (1961); and Lens Distortion (1971), a demo reel made at Goldsholl Design Associates. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Jan Tichy (Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Technology, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Program 2: “The New World: Industrial, Corporate, and Sponsored Films” Included are several outstanding examples of the various ways artists and designers pushed the boundaries of these genres. Films include The New World of Stainless Steel (1960, Wilding Studios, Chicago); Western Electric Company “Getting It All Together” (mid-1960s); Unemployed Jr. Executive Man (1970s); Paper: Mirror of Imagination (1975), one of a series of films made for Champion Papers Incorporated; the Container Corporation of America’s CCA & You: Partners in Achievement (1976). Screening Venue: The Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center Screening Date: October 10, 2018 – 6pm. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Lara Allison (Lecturer, Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Program 3: “Creative Broadcast: Communication, Commercials, and Advertising” Advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett have been based in Chicago since the late 19th century. This program highlights the work of a few innovative firms and designers. Films include Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation “The Straight Talking Copy People” (mid-1970s); Allstate Insurance “Another Year of Success” (1969); and various commercials for Sears, Quaker Oats, United Airlines, and ComEd, among others. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Michael Golec (Chair and Associate Professor of Art and Design History, Department of Art History, Theory & Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Program 4: “Personal Legacies: Materiality and Abstraction” This final program focuses on more personal and experimental films made by the individuals who were simultaneously working for the studios, agencies and design firms mentioned above. Intersections of the personal and the professional are explored through films including Robert Stiegler’s (Capitulation (1965) and Licht Spiel Nur I (circa 1967); Larry Janiak’s Adams Film (1963); and Byron Grush’s Fotogrammar (1969). Screening Venue: The Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center Screening Date: November 7, 2018 – 6pm. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Daniel Bashara (Adjunct Faculty, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, DePaul University)

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