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Performance Sun Jan 25 2015

Jesse Malmed @ The Film Studies Center

The show begins as Roy Orbison filters in through the speakers in the theater, Happy Days plays while Robin Williams still makes us laugh, and the morass of language is snarled and muddled throughout the visual odyssey of Untitled (Just Kidding).


Jesse Malmed was born in Santa Fe, N.M., and has since moved to Chicago where he thrives as a curator and artist. He earned an MFA for Moving Image at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Malmed draws on his affinity for humor, pop culture, wordplay, performance, and visually hypnotic video works, specifically the work seen at the Film Studies Center for the talk and screening of Untitled (Just Kidding).

The screening included seven of Malmed's recent works from 2012-13, with the inclusion of an earlier piece from 2007. The concentration of language, sound, found images, and personal footage were thematically linked from one video projection to the next. The concept of cinema is challenged. Malmed conjures up songs we want to sing to, shaky video shots of the sky, and reminiscent MS Paint to deliver his video-based work.

For the viewer, the concept of viewing is also challenged. In this particular screening night, Malmed shone a flashlight during one segment. Soon after, he stepped to the front of the theater, mounted a chair, and began conducting in front of a white screen--singing voices echoed throughout the theater as they sung about "Stella" and various other phrases of humor and hysteria. While we are phonically conscious, Malmed's theatrical and vivacious motions as a performer engage us visually.

For this special screening, Malmed let us in on surprises. Once he interjected a screening with the flashlight, I was aware of Malmed. However, as time passed throughout the night, I soon forgot that he might perform another sneak attack--naively believing his performances were over.

Then it began again; happily. Seated a few rows behind, Malmed began to sing during the last piece, "Do Voices." One by one, members of the audience, began to rise and sing words projected on the screen. Off key and brilliant, these five audience members terrified me. Am I next? Are we all going to have to sing? Am I supposed to know these lyrics? Moments passed and I realized I was safe. I turned to the individual seated behind me who was singing and swaying to the sound of the beat and I smiled--the choir was performing.

The viewer is struck by a wonderful abruptness in the screening of Jesse Malmed's videos. Classical cinema doesn't step outside of the screen. Classical cinema confines itself to a rectangle with blinding light and booming sound. Jesse Malmed makes his cinema come alive.

This screening was co-sponsored by the Hyde Park Art Center, located at 5020 S. Cornell Ave., and was part of the group exhibition Ground Floor, which is on view until March 22.

The Film Studies Center, at 5811 S. Ellis Ave., Cobb Hall, on the University of Chicago campus will be hosting several more events this year, including: the Short Films of Shirley Clarke, The Story of the Failed Chicago Projects (with filmmakers present), An Evening with the incredible Ernie Gehr, and Possession: The Graduate Student Conference Screening. All events are free and open to the public. Refreshments and food are served.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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