Entertainment » Movies

Channeling Latham Zearfoss

by Danny Orendorff
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Nov 19, 2008

If you find yourself with nothing to do this weekend, it surely is not the fault of Chicago-based artist and curator Latham Zearfoss who is involved with two separate screenings of short and experimental film and video works.

Screening this Friday, November 21, at the Nightingale Theatre is Channeling: An Invocation of Spectral Bodies and Queer Sprits, a film and video shorts program curated by Zearfoss and his collaborator Ethan White.

Channeling is organized around the concept of film and video as "occult technologies." That is as mediums - pun-intended - by which to invoke, eulogize, or conjure forgotten histories, bodies, and experiences - what might otherwise be considered 'ghost stories.' Or in this case, 'ghost images' becoming visible in new ways.

"The language that surrounds the cinematic experience brings to mind the occult,' says Zearfoss. "We often use words like 'haunting' to describe something we've viewed, and even the experience of sitting in a dark room staring at a flickering light suggests something spiritual. Film and video is a way of dealing with these ethereal concepts."

For the artists included in the program - most of whom are young and emerging - film and video are a tactic for grappling with the historical and social issues they've personally inherited as queers...the AIDS pandemic, the body in transition, the idealized nuclear family, and troubling cultural standards of desirability."

While the program's organizing principle may seem possibly sinister and its subject matter possibly heavy, Channeling actually promises to be quite comedic, with many artists using humor as a tactic of disarmament by which to deal with serious issues.

Not to miss are Shana Moulton's 2006 video Whispering Pines #7, featuring a surreal nose-pore clearing routine, and Chicago-artist Aay Preston-Myint's 2006 video Some Ghosts, featuring embroidery and stop-motion animation.

The night following Channeling (Saturday, November 22), Zearfoss' own video-based artwork will be appearing as part of "Chicago & the Universe," a curated selection of 'outstanding 2008 film and video work made by Chicago artists,' organized by Roots + Culture gallery.

Channeling is organized around the concept of film and video as ’occult technologies.’ That is as mediums - pun-intended - by which to invoke, eulogize, or conjure forgotten histories, bodies, and experiences.

The program features Zearfoss' 2008 video project Self Control, a 14-minute look at trust and Queer identity inspired by Laura Branigan's 80s pop-song of the same name. The work is indicative of Zearfoss' larger body of work referencing the personal relationships we can sometimes form with pop-culture.

"Appropriation is generally used in art-making to issue some kind of a critique," says Zearfoss, "but I am very sincere about my relationship to the song and to pop music, not that I'm incapable of irony."

It's fitting subject matter for Zearfoss, who (with Bruce Wiest) began the successful monthly alterna-Queer dance night Chances Dances at Subterranean in 2005.

If music and dancing is more your thing, anyhow, be sure to also check out this Saturday's dance-party at the Hideout featuring Chances Dances regular DJ's Fruitbasket. All proceeds from the event go to benefiting Channeling's national tour.

See what it's all about and support this young generation of local and national artists by attending The Nightingale Theatre's screening of Channeling Friday, November 21, beginning at 8 p.m., and Root + Culture's screening of Chicago and the Universe Saturday, November 22, also beginning at 8pm.

The Nightingale Theatre is located at 1084 N. Milwaukee and tickets to Channeling are on a $5-10 sliding donation scale. Find out more about Channeling by visiting it's website: http://channelingqueerspirits.wordpress.com

Roots + Culture (http://rootsandculturecac.org/) is located just down the block at 1034 N. Milwaukee and admission to the 8pm, Saturday, November 22nd screening of Chicago and the Universe is free-of-charge.

The Hideout is located at 1354 W. Wabansia and the party benefiting Channeling will be held Saturday, November 22nd, beginning at 11pm. Admission is $5. Visit the HideOut at: http://www.hideoutchicago.com/

More information can also be found on Zearfoss' own website: http://lathamzearfoss.com/

Danny Orendorff is an arts journalist and organizer in Chicago. He can be reached at Dan[dot]Orendorff[at]Gmail[dot]com


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