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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Art Fri Sep 25 2015

Review: VICO @ Little House and Comfort Film

Mexico City's VICO is a video project that conducts workshops and seminars that encourage the exploration of experimental cinema and film. For the first time in Chicago, VICO recently presented Counter-montages, Tinkering subjectivity, which included a collection of short films made from students in a workshop led by Javier Toscano. The program, co-presented by Little House and Comfort Film, featured 11 shorts from creators who were not traditional artists, or who did not consider themselves artists whatsoever.

The films shown were a collection of appropriated images, youtube videos, and political context that spanned Mexican culture and a digital realm. My Sweet 15 by Dulce Rosas presented a series of young women attending and performing at their quinceañera. By tradition, the women are adorned with extravagant dresses, jewelry and makeup for their 15th birthday celebration. In Rosas' short, the artist appropriated shots of girls dancing, celebrating and prepping themselves for the soon-to-be party. The beginning of the film focused on a baby girl who was crying and cradled; she represented the future character, or characters, at the quinceañera. The short film prodded at the honor, as several clips featured girls awkwardly dancing with dolls, or posing next to expensive cars. At first glance, it looks like an all-American teenage prom.

'Sentir, Tocar' by Carlos Cruz y Grisel Castro
Sentir, Tocar (To Feel, To Touch) by Carlos Cruz y Grisel Castro, 2012.

In contrast, Rodrigo Ramos' film, Narco Nation, examined the political identity in Mexico and in the drug cartel. The collection of clips that Ramos featured created a tense response towards the violence, crime and horror that young citizens film and publicly display on the internet. Several of the videos featured shootings and terrified women running with their children. The film was mesmerizing and nauseating. Making the crime public brings forth the reality of what is and what once was. By conflating the issues of today in Mexico, as well as appropriating older footage, Ramos created a blurred line between the past and the future. Moreover, the 10 minutes of non-stop violence that viewers were subjected to was not a connection to the reality of the cartel, but more of a boundary between time and context.

Coatetelco by Héctor Jiménez combined visual affirmation with audio ambiguity in the four-minute piece. The work, created in 2013, featured images of neighborhood buildings, dirt roads, calm lakes and backyard fences, which were filmed by the town's inhabitants. The audio of the film was abstract but somewhat familiar. Inaudible noise, statements like, "Is it political?" could be heard in an argument and loud traditional music played over scenes of the environment. The audio created a sense of place for the viewer; however, the sound and the image did not particularly sync when viewing Coatetelco. Peculiar scenes, such as a lake, introduced audio of loud music, possibly a live band, however the band was never seen by the viewer. The film created a survey of the space, people and culture in the town, but no obvious individuals were ever witnessed.

Though largely political, the screening sampled a wide variety of issues, conversations and visual stimulants. Somewhat shocking, often surreal and incredibly desirable, the program displayed archived material that contributed to the digital and media history of Mexico City.

'Sonorigrafía de la Memoria' by Alicia Fernández
Sonorigrafía de la Memoria (Soundgraphy of Memories) by Alicia Fernández, 2013.

The selection of shorts was presented by VICO, run by Chloé Fricout and Javier Toscano, who travel throughout Mexico and abroad with the project to express identity, political expression and digital media.

Little House is an an artist-run microcinema located in Pilsen at 1851 S. Allport (in the back).

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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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