We just finished a very inspiring master class with Lebanese filmmaker and artist Ali Cherri – part of his visit to Harvard that includes last night’s Artist Talk and tonight’s Harvard Film Archive screening.
A gathering of Critical Media Practice Students, Film Study Center Fellows, and undergraduates who are engaged in artistic practice got to hear in detail how Ali conceptualizes and technically realizes his work. Ali explained how his trilogy of “The Disquiet,” “The Digger” and work-in-progress “The Dam” began with an interest in how moments of catastrophe in his home region – from natural disasters to war – can become extended forever in time as the agony seems to never end. How does one represent the experience of violence when it’s not always “spectacular”?
Ali sometimes starts from a place of documentary, gathering images observationally and building relationships with people in their daily lives, and then slowly moves into fiction as he choreographs scripted using involving people in their space as actors to create the meaning he seeks. His imagery can ultimately cross over into the supernatural, as in the striking last shot of “The Disquiet.”
Participants seemed particularly interested in Ali’s process of creating installations, including those related to single-channel works and free-standing pieces like the striking “My Pain is Real” that explores ideas about the digital mediation of violence through manipulation of his own face.
Thanks to Ali Cherri, HFA, and CCVA for this inspiring visit!
Last night marked the first-ever gathering of CMP students from across the university in our welcome event for the new semester. It was great to hear from graduate students in Anthropology, Literature, Design, Public Health, and other fields describe their research and media projects.
We look forward to more opportunities to build community through regular critique group meetings, workshops, and other gatherings.
This summer three Film and Visual Studies graduate students from the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and the Critical Media Practice secondary field presented installations at the Graduate School of Design’s Kirkland Gallery in a series titled “Neither/Nor, Any/All”. These exhibits explored “the limits and possibilities of research as practice, exposing and probing the nature of art-making as a multi-modal activity.”
Lindsey Lodie and Megan Alvarado-Saggese’s “Unspecified Objects, Marfa TX: The Built Wall” explores the contradictions of site-specific practice at America’s borderlands, in particular the case study of Donald Judd, who in the mid-1970s used Marfa, Texas as a backdrop for his art installations while “largely ignoring the cultural, demographic and geo-political dimensions of the region”.
Brandon Evans presented “By Listening, Pain and Sin Are Eradicated,” which included a performance in audio works, curated materials, and textual translations of gurbani (Sikh sacred text) exploring “the dimensions of language, performance, and listening as shared spheres of practice in the Sikh religious tradition and in Western contemporary art”.
Jessica Bardsley’s installation “Unearthed” mapped “an internal geography, exploring relationships between surface and interiority, matter and affect. Taking inspiration from topography, geology, and theories of emotion, this exhibition assembles artifacts from a quiet, eerie galaxy, a desaturated land, light-years from within.”