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Chicago, Illinois 60616
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Camille Cook Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2016-03
Extent of collection
33 reels of 16mm totaling approximately 4490 feet; 21 reels of 8mm totaling approximately 3960 feet; 1 reel of Super 8mm totaling approximately 150 feet
Inclusive Dates
1963 - 1975
Bulk Dates
1963 - 1968
The Camille Cook Collection consists of outtakes, work prints, original negatives, collected films, home movies, and edited diary films of the experimental and personal work of Camille Cook, filmmaker and founder of The Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (now The Gene Siskel Film Center). The films depict various aspects of Cook’s life in Chicago throughout the mid 1960s, ranging from images of city street life to moments with her friends and family in Western Springs, IL, as well as her experiments in structural filmmaking.
The films in this collection represent the work Camille Cook made during her time managing the Magick Lantern Society, a film club founded by Cook in 1966 that screened experimental films in Chicago. The 16mm materials in the collection may contribute to unfinished experimental projects shot and edited by Cook herself, including a film called Lyman or Arrival Supermarket Architecture depicting downtown Chicago architecture and street life alongside flashing images of city lights and washes of color; Liela, a portrait film that utilizes optical printing techniques featuring a woman’s facial profile and torso exposed over each other; and a film called Campbell’s Soup, which portrays a family enjoying a bowl of soup that mimics the style of the Campbell’s advertisement films of the early 1960s. The 8mm materials in the collection consist mostly of diary-style edited home movies shot while visiting Greece; Hawaii; Lucrene, Switzerland; and Cannes, France, often narrated by her husband Alex W. Cook. Additionally, the collection includes six film prints collected by Cook, including Buster Keaton’s Cops, Laurel & Hardy’s Pre-Team, Stan Brakhage’s Songs 5 & 16, and, given to her by filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Mystery of the Leaping Fish and Kid ’N’ Hollywood.
Cook, Camille (was created by)
Since the mid-1960s, Camille J. Cook has founded and maintained multiple arts advocacy organizations in film exhibition, fiber arts, and culinary arts in the city of Chicago as well as where she currently lives in Western Springs, Il. During her time at Northwestern University (1950-1954), she was a Mortar Board member and President of Women Off Campus, graduating with a BS in Art History, Painting, & Design. In 1966, she founded the Magick Lantern Society, one of the first presenters of experimental films in Chicago, screening underrepresented and noncommercial art films at the Tribune Tower and the Museum of Contemporary Art. By 1973, Cook’s program evolved into the Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, known today as the Gene Siskel Film Center. As founder & co-director w/ film scholar and critic B. Ruby Rich, Cook encouraged the idea of film as a serious art form and provided a unique venue in Chicago that offered a range of carefully curated film art in technically accurate facilities. In 1982, Cook created the Culinary and Fine Arts Club publication, an international group and newsletter celebrating gastronomy and fine art. By 1991, she founded the non-profit arts advocacy organization Friends of Fiber Art International, whose mission it is to promote art made of flexible materials or constructed using textile techniques. Since its inception, Friends has awarded more than a quarter million dollars in support of fiber art projects that educate the public about the medium. She presided as President until its dissolution in 2017. Since the genesis of Friends, Cook has lived in Western Springs, Il with her husband Alex W. Cook until his passing in 2017, with whom she made many films and developed an extensive Fiber art collection with. She continues on the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Advisory Board.
Custodial History
The films in the Camille Cook Collection had previously been stored at the Gene Siskel Film Center, before being transported to CFA in May 2016.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Cook, Camille
"Mystery of the Leaping Fish" + "Kid 'N' Hollywood"
1968 - Hawaii - Calif.
1st W.P.
Aronson + Day Traffic Outs
Arrival Supermarket Architecture