Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016: “The Pool Movie”

Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016: “The Pool Movie”

Harlow Figa (’16), Nick Gandolfo-Lucia (’16), Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe (’18), and Sarah Moses (’16) are Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016 fellows. This year, the Tuttle Summer Arts Lab provides students the opportunity to work with Vicky Funari on her new feature film, the as-of-yet untitled “Pool Movie.” Fellows are collaborating with the subjects of the film to produce content for the website, research ways to make the website accessible to older people, and contribute to the intellectual climate of the project. Vicky describes the film as “a documentary film about a group of older women who find strength, grace, and community in an aquacize class at their neighborhood swimming pool. Set in a YMCA swimming pool in the suburbs of Philadelphia, this group of 60-90 year old women have spent 25 years together in the pool. The film documents the class’s final year in the old pool, as the Y prepares to close the branch and transition to a shiny, new building. Over a year in the pool, creative projects flourish, illness strikes, friendships evolve, seasons change. This is a study of older bodies and souls in water, in motion, in transition, and in community with each other.” Below, each of the fellows describes their relationship to the project and what they have been working on so far: Marcelo: I caught a quick glimpse of the poster promoting this year’s summer arts lab as I was walking around Stokes this past spring. In that glimpse I noticed the water, the people, and pool dumbbells. These faint images instantly reminded me of a project Vicky Funari mentioned to me in the...
Springs, Science, and Fieldwork

Springs, Science, and Fieldwork

Having left my bottle lower down the mountain, I let the cool water sit in my hands before bringing it to my lips. Apparently, I’m told by one of the scientists nearby, if I were a water connoisseur I would pick up on the particular taste. I’m no connoisseur, though something does taste different. Part of it is simply the rarity of finding water like this in the high mountain desert. Yet water is always present if you pay attention: in rosebush leaves and fleshy cacti, in the insects caught in bug nets, under the fur of the rodents who did not fall for the Quaker oatmeal traps, in the flesh of my own hands, spring water cupped, slipping through fingers. Springs inhabit a lively space in this land. They are places of emergence, intersections between diverse surface and subsurface ecological communities, fascinating places for an ecologist. They are also spaces charged by contested land rights, resource management, and difficult (and violent) historical encounters. As canaries of the groundwater coal mine,1 they are dynamic, and like all bodies of water in the desert, feel like miracles to come across. Water is certainly scarce in Northern Arizona, though there is no shortage of stories that springs take part in. Around Flagstaff, a small city at the base of the volcanic San Francisco Peaks, springs sustained human life long before Coronado and his conquistadors came searching for gold in the 1500s and named the mountain Sierra Sin Agua, or “mountains without water.”2 Presently, springs are undergoing immense change. I’m working on my Anthropology/Environmental Studies senior thesis this summer, which is focused...
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...
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...
Public Art in Philadelphia

Public Art in Philadelphia

With help from the Hurford Humanities Center’s Summer Research Fellowship fund, I have spent the past couple months fully immersed in the filmmaking process. As a film and media studies major at Swarthmore, I was given the option to do an independent thesis and I immediately jumped on that opportunity. After having worked on multiple documentary projects during my time at Haverford (thanks to the wonderful Vicky Funari), I knew that I wanted to engage my documentary skills and experiences in a topic close to home. Philadelphia has always been an under-appreciated city in my eyes, and having it as a cultural, historical, academic, and experiential resource has been crucial to the development of my thesis. My guiding question entering this project was something along the lines of, “How does public art delineate and/or subvert socioeconomic and cultural borders”. Since the beginning of the summer I’ve been able to narrow my focus to South Philadelphia, specifically the significant Nepalese, Burmese and Bhutanese refugee populations that have accumulated in recent years. Southeast x Southeast is a community resource  and arts center for these refugees, which aims to use art as a vehicle for storytelling and community building. With support from the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, the Lutheran Children and Family Service, and the Mural Arts Program, the project has expanded beyond its initial community events and has become a long term project for artist Shira Walinsky. In addition to organizational duties and teaching ESL classes, Shira has been working on related public art projects, including the soon-to-be-completed Language Lab mural at the intersection of 7th...
John Muse on STRANGE TRUTH

John Muse on STRANGE TRUTH

STRANGE TRUTH is a film series at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and Haverford College that starts this very Wednesday. The series is organized by Professors Vicky Funari (Artist in Residence), Joshua Moses (Anthropology), and John Muse (Independent College Programs). John Muse, currently teaching “Film On Photography,” took the time to answer a few questions about Wednesday’s program, featuring the work of the late Harun Farocki. 1. Are you teaching any of Farocki’s work in your classes? These very films plus essays on Farocki by Kaja Silverman and D.N. Rodowick. 2. Would you categorize these films as documentaries? Why or why not? Neither are documentaries per se.  “Images of the World…” is what’s known as an essay film.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay#Film  Essay films are typically pointed, argumentative, but can also be searching and reflexive.  Or they can be personal, more like journal entries or meditations on a theme than presentations of the facts.  “Images of the World…” is more like the former, Engaging as it does with history, politics, and technologies in a reflexive mode, one that asks viewers to think about seeing and what they’re seeing.  “An Image” is stranger.  Lacking narration, a fly-on-the-wall methodology, or interviews, it’s structured more as a fiction film where the characters just happen to be real people all of whom are engaged in careful but seemingly ridiculous work.  The film reveals what the photographic image will hide: the labor required to produce it. 3. What are the connections between a film about a Playboy shoot and a film about reconnaissance of Auschwitz? Both films teach us how cameras and the technical systems within which...