Ongoing

The Machine that Kills Bad People

A bi-monthly film club at ICA, London, organized together with Maria Palacios Cruz, Beatrice Gibson, and Ben Rivers.

The Machine That Kills Bad People is, of course, the cinema—a medium that is so often and so visibly in service of a crushing status quo but which, in the right hands, is a fatal instrument of beauty, contestation, wonder, politics, poetry, new visions, testimonies, histories, dreams... It is also a film club devoted to showing work—“mainstream” and experimental, known and unknown, historical and contemporary—that takes up this task.

Screenings:

April 2020: Alanis Obomsawin’s Incident at Restigouche (1984) and Sandra Lahire’s Serpent River (1989). Commissioned essay by Tendai Mutambu.

January 2020: Friedl vom Gröller’s Photo Session (2010) and Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (1978). Commissioned essay by Courtney Duckworth.

November 2019: Angela Schanelec's Places in Cities (1998) and Alexandra Cuesta's Piensa in mí (2009). Commissioned essay by Daniella Shreir.

September 2019: Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman (1996) and Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel’s I am Micro (2012). Commissioned essay by Jemma Desai.

July 2019: Samira Makhmalbaf’s Blackboards (2000) and Forough Farrokhzad’s The House is Black (1962). Commissioned essay by Sara Saljoughi.

June 2019: Babette Mangolte’s The Sky on Location (1982) and Deborah Stratman’s O’er the Land (2009). Presented at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Commissioned essay by Erika Balsom.

May 2019: Peggy Ahwesh’s Martina’s Playhouse (1989) and Doris Wishman’s Nude on the Moon (1961). Commissioned essay by Ara Osterweil.

March 2019: Margarethe von Trotta’s The German Sisters (1981) and Joyce Wieland’s Rat Life and Diet in North America (1968). Commissioned essay by Lucy Reynolds.

January 2019: Where I am is Here (shorts programme). Commissioned essay by Genevieve Yue.

November 2018: Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent (1977) and Ute Aurand/Ulrike Pfeiffer’s Umweg (1983). Commissioned essay by Laura Staab.

September 2018: Claire Denis’s Nénette et Boni (1996) and Mati Diop’s Big in Vietnam (2012). Commissioned essay by Leo Goldsmith.

July 2018: Anocha Suchwichakornpong’s Mundane History (2009) and Mary Helena Clark’s The Dragon is the Frame (2014). Commissioned essay by May Adadol Ingawanij.

May 2018: Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970) and Laida Lertxundi’s Cry When It Happens (2010). Commissioned essay by Elena Gorfinkel.

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Peggy Ahwesh: Vision Machines

Co-curated with Robert Leckie

Spike Island, Bristol; 25 September 2021 – 16 January 2022

Vision Machines is the first survey exhibition in the UK by American artist Peggy Ahwesh (b. 1954, Pennsylvania, USA) and includes single-channel films and video installations made between 1993 and 2021.

Since the early 1980s, Peggy Ahwesh has forged a distinctive moving image practice in the ruins of originality and authority. Whether by working with nonprofessional performers, especially children, or by repurposing existing images — such as a decaying pornographic film, the video game Tomb Raider, or computer-animated news coverage — Ahwesh embraces improvisatory strategies that probe the critical potential of play. With keen attentiveness to the materiality of bodies and media technologies alike, her works articulate a feminist commitment to the marginal and the minor.

Even as Ahwesh rejects the notion of style as authorial signature, her concerns with sexuality, subjectivity, and troubling the boundary between the animate and inanimate have remained constant across the decades. Focusing on a selection of works that explore the relationship between the body and the technologized image, the exhibition at Spike Island spans issues and ideas as diverse as gender, climate change and war.

Shoreline Movements

Co-curated with Grégory Castéra (Council) for the Taipei Biennial, “You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet,” curated by Martin Guinard and Bruno Latour, 21 November 2020 – 14 March 2021

Shoreline Movements is a film program that approaches the threshold between land and water as a material environment and as a provocative metaphor for the uncertainties and conflicts of worldly existence. Across eighteen works of cinematic non-fiction made between 1944 and 2020, Shoreline Movements explores how artists and filmmakers have addressed the manifold encounters that take place in the littoral zone, broaching issues of environmental crisis, indigeneity, coloniality, community, and otherness. Presented within a space designed by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, across six cycles that come and go like the tides, these films search for ways to render sensible the particularity and complexity of reality, embracing filmic and verbal language as nontransparent mediators that aid in this task.

Films and videos by:

Peggy Ahwesh, Karimah Ashadu, Joshua Bonnetta, Edith Dekyndt, Maya Deren, Patricio Guzmán, Sky Hopinka, Hu Tai-li, Johan van der Keuken, Rebecca Meyers, Carlos Motta, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Thao Nguyen Phan, Jessica Sarah Rinland, Ben Rivers, Francisco Rodriguez,Tsuchimoto Noriaki, and Zhou Tao

More information here

An Oceanic Feeling

Punto de Vista – Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain; 2–7 March, 2020

An Oceanic Feeling challenges the Romantic myth of the ocean as a dark, monstrous void of unknowable depths, populated by alien creatures. Through a series of six screenings of documentary and artists' films from around the world, An Oceanic Feeling explores how the seas are thoroughly imbricated in human histories of colonialism, slavery, exploration and labour, asking: what if we understood the ocean not as dividing us but as connecting us? What politics, what ethics, would follow?

Including films by:

Peggy Ahwesh, CAMP, Vittorio De Seta, Mati Diop, Jean Epstein, David Gatten, Peter Hutton, Louis Lumière, Rebecca Meyers, the Otolith Group, Jean Painlevé, Lois Patiño, Noriaki Tsuchimoto

More information here

Prophecies for the Second Machine Age

Online exhibition for Kadist Art Foundation in collaboration with VIDEOCLOOP

11 March to 11 April 2019

The five works of ‘Prophecies for the Second Machine Age’ offer imaginative responses to the problem of confronting the nonevent of prolonged injury as it occurs at the intersection of the natural and the artificial. In an era of automation and ‘smart’ machines, when rationalization triumphs and technology causes as many problems as it solves, what futures await vulnerable bodies and environments? What catastrophic pasts have they already endured? These artists turn to poetic condensation and oblique metaphor to approach these questions, cultivating mood rather than communicating information.

Including films by:

Pedro Neves Marquez, Nira Pereg, Mary Helena Clark, Diana Fonseca Quiñones, and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

Watch the programme here

Truth or Consequences

CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand 2018 Commissions

For the five artists that comprise this programme, the referential principle of the moving image is an affordance that spurs poetic inquiries into history, identity, and relations to the land. The image’s ability to capture physical reality is not trusted outright as a guarantee of knowledge or singular truth, but approached as a starting point for processes of reflection, questioning, and attunement that make a claim on the real. These works leave behind postmodern scepticism, asserting a bond to actuality even if the meaning of what is seen and heard remains open to debate. The artists embrace diverse techniques—found footage, interviews, observation, testimony—but in all cases documentary emerges as an inquiry into not simply what we know, but how we know it, as experiments with form dynamically reflect on how to rehabilitate a relationship to reality at a time when it seems everywhere in peril.

Including newly commissioned films by:

Andrew de Freitas, Jeremy Leatinu'u, Vea Mafile`o, Janine Randerson, and Bridget Reweti

An Oceanic Feeling

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth, New Zealand; 4 August – 18 November 2018

An Oceanic Feeling challenges the Romantic myth of the ocean as a dark, monstrous void of unknowable depths, populated by alien creatures. Through a series of six screenings of recent artists’ films from around the world, An Oceanic Feeling explores how the seas are thoroughly imbricated in human histories of colonialism, slavery, exploration and labour, asking: what if we understood the ocean not as dividing us but as connecting us? What politics, what ethics, would follow?

Including films by:

Peggy Ahwesh, Noël Burch and Allan Sekula, CAMP, Filipa César and Louis Henderson, Mati Diop, Maddie Leach, Rebecca Meyers, The Otolith Group, Francisco Rodriguez, Philip Scheffner, and G. Anthony Svatek.

Read the programme notes here; accompanied by the publication An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea.

Bette Gordon

Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image, London; 17–18 February 2017

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, New York-based filmmaker Bette Gordon produced a series of works that chart a major shift in experimental practice from the rigor of structural film to a theoretically-informed interest in fragmented narrative and subjective experience that Noel Carroll would dub the “new talkies.” With her best-known work, 1983's Variety, Gordon moves fully into the idiom of independent narrative cinema, but her concerns remain consistent: questions of sexuality, labour, and gentrification are pursued within a critical interrogation of filmic language. Hers is a cinema at once politically urgent, formally sophisticated, and emotionally compelling.

Programme 1: Variety (1983)

Programme 2: An Algorithm (1977), Exchanges (1979), Empty Suitcases (1980)

Read the programme notes here and here