March 31, 2021

Critical Ecology on Film

Mishkin Gallery at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Lisa Rave and Erik Blinderman, Americium (film still), 2017.

Critical Ecology on Film is an online film screening and conversation series taking place on Thursdays at 1pm throughout the month of April. Through the work of four international artists/artist collectives, the Critical Ecology on Film program will expose and tackle questions regarding ecological crises in relation to climate change, inter-species communication, nuclear power, and privatization of the public commons. Artists will join professors from across Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences to connect visual culture and the humanities in transdisciplinary conversations that concern the entanglement of politics and our contemporary ecologies. Each film screening will be followed by a conversation between the artist(s) and a professor, with a dedicated Q&A for additional student and public engagement.

Filmmakers include Dr. Yarimar Bonilla, Dominique Knowles, Lisa Rave and Erik Blinderman, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Baruch College speakers include professors Rojo Robles Mejias, David Gruber, Alison Griffiths, and Alaina Claire Feldman.

Thursday, April 8, 1pm
Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm, 2019
Dr. Yarimar Bonilla in conversation with Professor Rojo Robles Mejias
Register here

In this documentary film, Yarimar Bonilla, co-editor of the book Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm, travels through Puerto Rico to interview journalists, poets, photographers, visual artists, and community activists to discuss their perspectives on the island in the wake of Hurricane María. The film explores the ongoing "aftershocks" of the hurricane experienced by Puerto Ricans, which include state failure, social abandonment and disaster capitalism. Through thought-provoking interviews, affective readings, and representations of Puerto Rico’s decaying infrastructure and empowered community, the film explores both the unfolding crisis in Puerto Rico and the emergence of new political imaginaries and determination. This event is co-sponsored by Baruch's Initiative for the Study of Latin America (ISLA).

Dr. Yarimar Bonilla is the Acting Director of El Centro, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, as well as Professor in the Department of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College and the PhD Program in Anthropology at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Professor Rojo Robles Mejias is a Puerto Rican writer, playwright, and filmmaker. He is Lecturer of Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College, CUNY.

Thursday, April 15, 1pm
Tahlequah, 2019
Dominique Knowles in conversation with Professor David Gruber
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Since early modern Europe, animals in the West have been reduced to machines, raw material and spectacle, devaluing their lives while creating an anthropocentric hierarchy. To counter this narrative, Dominique Knowles’s Tahlequah is a tribute to the profound sentience among non-human animals including their capacity to mourn and show empathy for one another. Among them are the eponymous orca Tahlequah, who carried her stillborn calf along with her for seventeen days, and Flint, a chimpanzee who died out of grief for his dead mother.

Dominique Knowles (Bahamian, b. 1996) lives & works in Chicago, IL. Knowles received both his MFA in Painting as a New Artist Society Award scholar in 2020 and his BFA in 2017 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Professor David Gruber is an American marine biologist, a Presidential Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences at Baruch College, CUNY. He is Lead of Project Cetacean Translation Initiative (CETI), a nonprofit organization and 2020 Audacious Project applying advanced machine learning and non-invasive robotics to better understand the communication of sperm whales.

Thursday, April 22, 1pm
Americium, 2017
Lisa Rave and Erik Blinderman in conversation with Professor Alison Griffiths
Register here

Taking its title from a man-made radioactive element on the periodic table, “Americium” addresses the literal contamination of sacred lands and the spiritual neglect of an American landscape. The film revolves around the contested long term nuclear storage facility of Yucca Mountain in Nevada using portraits of individuals and local communities to explore the conflicting ideologies and fantasies of the American West. It is a search for what is invisible and embedded within the landscape, a meditation on what is simultaneously real and imagined. The project is a culmination of several years of research on the subject, with most material being produced just prior to the November 2016 Presidential Election.

Lisa Rave, born 1979 in Guildford/UK, and Erik Blinderman, born 1979, New York, currently live and work in Berlin, Germany and co-run Whole Wall Films. Their work has been shown with institutions, galleries, and cinemas internationally.

Professor Alison Griffiths is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she teaches film history, visual studies, and media theory.

Thursday, April 29, 1pm
Cactus River (Khong Lang Nam), 2012
Apichatpong Weerasethakul in conversation with Mishkin Gallery Director and Curator Alaina Claire Feldman
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World renowned artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cactus River (Khong Lang Nam) is a short experimental film starring his long-time collaborator, Jenjira Pongpas. Weerasethakul’s films are often marked by interplays between organic, natural time and measured cinematic time while drawing from Buddhist narrative structures as well as science fiction. The title of this work is a contradiction evoking a river full of desert plants, but also a very real future for the Mekong due to upstream constructions of Chinese dams. As water levels continue to fall, Jenjira leads a new life after marrying a retired American soldier and changes her name to Nach, also meaning “river.” Both the Mekong and Nach are changing, along with the memories of who and what they once were. Baruch students will be invited to submit questions for the artist ahead of time, to be answered in a pre-recorded interview.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a Thai independent film director, screenwriter, and film producer. Working outside the strict confines of the Thai film studio system, Weerasethakul has directed ten features and dozens of short films. He has won the Un Certain Regard top prize, Jury Prize, and Palm d’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival as well as numerous other awards such as the Principal Prince Claus Award and the Artes Mundi Prize.

Alaina Claire Feldman is the Director and Curator of the Mishkin Gallery and Professor in the Arts Administration MA program at Baruch College, CUNY.

Closed Captioning is available. Please email mishkingallery [​at​] to request additional accommodations.

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