Recently at the Hurford Center: Hope Tucker

Recently at the Hurford Center: Hope Tucker

Nestled into the midst of this semester’s STRANGE TRUTH film series, Hope Tucker’s short filmic obituaries stand out. Hope spoke to a crowd of Bi-Co students and community members on Wednesday, March 30, alternating between showing videos and speaking about her work. In Hope’s video series, The Obituary Project, she creates short videos as obituaries for people or places. Originally, Hope planned to focus on the stories of women, though she later decided that this focus was too narrow. One of the first videos in The Obituary Project, and the first video Hope showed us on Wednesday evening, was an obituary for Bessie Cohen, a survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 145 workers. Hope’s obituary of Bessie Cohen explores the ways in which famous events such as the fire shape the time and perspective of an obituary and highlight what parts of life become historicized. Bessie Cohen lived to 107 years old, yet obituaries written for her tend to end at the age of 17—her escape from death becomes the story of her life. Hope pointed to her Bessie Cohen obituary as a project she hopes to remake using the same words, only this time in reference to a recent Bangladesh factory fire. This connection between the past and present highlights the social justice angle of Hope’s work. When I asked about the connection between the medium of film and social justice, Hope emphasized her desire to work in an accessible space beyond language. Through film and image, her message can move beyond the confines of verbal language. Especially, she added, as people increasingly learn to read images in school. When discussing her current projects, Hope made...
Among the Unburied: Interview with Curator Liz Park

Among the Unburied: Interview with Curator Liz Park

How do we honor and mourn the unburied, the restless dead? The exhibition Among the Unburied, opening at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery on Friday, March 18th, raises this question and more by juxtaposing the works of artists Mauricio Arango (Colombia/USA), Marianne Nicolson (Kwakwaka’wakw/Canada), and Park Chan-kyong (South Korea). We spoke with curator Liz Park for a sneak peak of Friday’s gallery opening. How did you select these three artists and the pieces in the exhibition? I have long admired and respected Marianne Nicolson as an artist. When the opportunity to work on this project came up, I immediately thought of the work Marianne made in 2008 titled The House of the Ghosts. Working on the exhibition allowed us to present a new work she created specifically for the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford. I was similarly aware of Park Chan-kyong and Mauricio Arango as artist-filmmakers, and have found their works very compelling. This exhibition was an opportunity to connect with all of them, and to think about their works in relation to one another. The pieces that share the gallery space resonate in a number of ways – the river and the light are the common transformative vehicles that carry the living from one state to another, and vice versa for the dead. The movement of light in Marianne’s installation is inspired by and mimics the ebb and flow of the river. In both Park’s and Arango’s works, the river plays an essential role in the development of the plot. And to note the obvious, the works all evoke the last rite. They unequivocally seek closure. Your exhibition is...
El Velador: Interview with Filmmaker Natalia Almada

El Velador: Interview with Filmmaker Natalia Almada

On Wednesday, March 16, Haverford students and community members will have the opportunity to view the documentary El Velador and speak with award winning filmmaker Natalia Almada. The quiet, mesmerizing film follows the nightwatchman of a “narco-cementary”, where some of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords are buried. For a sneak-peek into Wednesday’s event, Natalia Almada agreed to a brief interview on El Velador and filmmaking in general. Icarus Films describes El Velador as “a film about violence without violence.” Do you agree? Why did you decide not to explicitly portray violence? Yes, that’s how I describe the film. In part it was a reaction to the mainstream media in Mexico, which is flooded with extremely graphic images of violence. The result of such images is that eventually they cease to touch us. We become numb to their horror and turn away. They also serve to support a discourse in which the perpetrators of these crimes are simply seen as monsters and therefore not human beings who deserve to have rights. It allows us to disassociate the violence from our social responsibility; we are no longer implicated. I believe that the violence we are experiencing in Mexico is a result of our unequal and unjust society—not only Mexican society but global society and we need to make media which allows us to see it, think about it and feel it. My hope I suppose was that the absence of violence in my film would actually allow for a reflection on violence. I was watching the trailer for El Velador on Youtube, and I couldn’t help but notice that many of the suggested videos were news pieces such as “Univision News...
Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht: An Interview with Irina Leimbacher

Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht: An Interview with Irina Leimbacher

This Wednesday, the Hurford Center will head to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute for a night with the category-bending films of Chick Strand. Chick Strand’s films Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht are the latest installment of the Strange Truth film series organized by Haverford professors Vicky Funari, Hank Glassman, and John Muse. Film theorist Irina Leimbacher will lead a post-viewing discussion, and I was lucky enough to chat with her about what to expect at the event and about her relationship with film. Why did you pick Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht from Chick Strand’s body of work? I was very excited about Soft Fiction because it had just been restored by Mark Toscano at the Academy Film Archive. I was asked to introduce a screening of a new print when it screened at the New York Film Festival last fall. Soft Fiction is a powerful film and embodies Chick Strand’s sensuous camera style and her ability to convey deeply felt experiences. Yet it is different from all of her other films in that it is structured around a series of interviews with five distinct women, and Chick used a tripod to film most of those interviews. In her other work Chick never uses a tripod and never incorporates sync sound dialogue — her shooting style is much more like the interstices that we see in Soft Fiction between the interviews. Since the film is just over an hour in length it seemed like it could be good to show another short alongside it. Kristallnacht has no voice, no “stories” other than what we bring to it. It is one of my favorites of her short films, and...
Summer at Asian Arts Initiative

Summer at Asian Arts Initiative

This summer I’m interning at Asian Arts Initiative, which is an arts non-profit located in Philadelphia’s Chinatown North. One of the many things that that means is that my lunch breaks are awesome. Days when I forget to bring my already-packed, budget-friendly lunches from home are days I get to try a new restaurant. In the picture above you can see my banh mi and chrysanthemum tea in the moments before I devoured them, purchased from a fantastic little shop (though the client base in there that day did bring a certain word to mind…hint: the word is gentrification). I’ve also been scoping out all the boba tea shops in the area (somehow it seems like I’ve never sampled quite enough to settle on a favorite…). At the end of the day I stop into one of the numerous little markets to pick up some groceries. The only downside for me is the lack of Korean food in the area, though you know, it being Chinatown I can’t really complain. After one day dragging my sad Korean feet from market to market in pursuit of sesame leaves (which I guess are just a Korean thing?), I realized I would have to return to Upper Darby and the land of H-Mart for a few of my grocery staples. (Though I did find a Chinatown market that sells kimchee, so not all is lost!) If you have any suggestions of places to check out in Chinatown, let me know! I might just have to forget to pack a lunch a little more...