Artists’ Lecture and Film Screening Series

*All events are on Tuesday evenings, 5:30-7:30, in DARC 108 at UC Santa Cruz


 1/17: Presentation by Matthew Coolidge of the Center for Land Use Interpretation

 "Pits and Piles: Search for the Fulcrum with the Center for Land Use Interpretation"

Matthew Coolidge is the founder and director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, an education and research organization based in Los Angeles. Since 1994, the Center has produced exhibitions, presentations, tours, publications, online resources, and other public programs that examine, describe, and explain the built landscape of the USA. For this presentation, Coolidge will provide an image-intensive examination of the contemporary American landscape, focusing on the notion of extraction and deposition.


1/24: Presentation by Ed Morris and Susannah Sayler of The Canary Project

“Water Gold Soil: The American River”

Sayler/Morris of The Canary Project will discuss their current work, Water Gold Soil: The American River.  The project, which consists of photographic and video works, archival images, maps and writing, tells the story of a single flow of water in present-day California from origin point to end-use.  The project is both a form of historiography and a form of allegory – using this swath of geography to investigate our present Age of Extraction. As with other water flows in the American West, the “American River” is no longer a river at all, but an elongated site of water capture and distribution, with a definite beginning but diffuse end.

Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris (Sayler/Morris) work with photography, video, writing and installation.  Of primary concern are contemporary efforts to develop ecological consciousness and the possibilities for art within a social activist practice. In 2006 they co-founded The Canary Project - a collaborative that produces art and media that deepen public understanding of ecological issues such as climate change, extinction, food systems and water resources.  Sayler/Morris were recently awarded 2016 NYFA Artist Fellowships and the 2016 David Brower Center ART/ACT Award & Exhibition.  They have also been Smithsonian Artist Research Fellows, Artist Fellows at The Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment and Loeb Fellows at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. They currently teach in the Transmedia Department at Syracuse University where they co-direct The Canary Lab.


1/31: Screening of Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle’s Goodbye Gauley Mountain, 2013, with Artists’ Presentation

 Goodbye Gauley Mountain, 2013 is a documentary film in which protest, performance art, and sexuality come together.  Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, two ecosexuals in love, return to their family home in West Virginia to help save the region from mountaintop removal destruction. The artists put their bodies on the line in the struggle for environmental justice, demonstrating how the fight against industrial extraction can be inclusive, sexy and fun, even in the face of environmental tragedy.

 Elizabeth Stephens is an artist, activist and professor of art at UC Santa Cruz. Her work explores sexuality, gender, and feminism. Her collaboration with Annie Sprinkle concentrates on what they call "sexecology," the intersections between ecology and sexology intersect in order to imagine a sustainable relationship between humans and the planet they inhabit. Stephens and Sprinkle have performed at the Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf, Germany, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and they have exhibited work at PS 1 in New York, the Reina Sophia in Madrid, Spain as well as in many other performance spaces, museums, galleries and festivals around the world. Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story is Beth Stephens first feature documentary film.

 Annie Sprinkle is an internationally known multimedia artist who has toured theater pieces since 1989 to 21 countries. She is one of the pivotal players in the 80’s “sex positive feminist movement.” Her film, The Sluts & Goddesses Video Workshop: Or How to Be A Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps, played over 300 international film festivals and art venues, including the Guggenheim Museum. She’s been involved in dozens of documentaries and numerous features (Inside Deep ThroatThe Naked Feminist, Monica Truet’s My Father is Coming, and Gendernauts,), and been in many TV shows such as HBO's Real Sex and The Sexual Revolution on the History Channel. In the 70's and 80s, Sprinkle starred in x-rated feature films; these experiences led to her producing, directing and starring in an award winning experimental film diary, Annie Sprinkle’s Herstory of Porn. Sprinkle earned a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, and received the 2013 Artist/Activist/Scholar Award at Performance Studies International. Currently her multi-media art projects are dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place and pollinating the budding ecosex movement.


2/14: Screening of The Otolith Group’s The Radiant, 2012

 Commissioned as part of dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012, The Radiant explores the aftermath of March 11, 2011, when the Tohoku earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed many thousands and caused the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan. A film essay burdened by the difficult task of representing the invisible aftermath of nuclear fallout, The Radiant travels through time and space to invoke the historical promises of nuclear energy and the threats of radiation that converge in Japan’s illuminated cities and evacuated villages in the months immediately following the disasters. The Otolith Group’s cinematic document offers glimpses into the shape and presence of an unseen entity and its abstract manifestation through visual phenomena.

The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun who live and work in London. During their longstanding collaboration The Group have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials. They explore the moving image, the archive, the sonic and the aural within the gallery context. The work is research based and in particular has focused on the essay film as a form that seeks to look at conditions, events and histories in their most expanded form. The Group have exhibited, installed and screened their works nationally and internationally, they are commissioned to develop and exhibit their art works, their research, installations, and publications by a wide range of museums, public and private galleries, biennials, foundations and other bodies.


2/21: Presentation by Photographer and Writer Subhanker Banerjee

 "Trouble in Paradise: Photography, Visual Ecology, and Extraction in Olympic National Park”

For this presentation, Subhankar Banerjee will introduce his forest series of photography, Trouble in Paradise. Situated in the Olympic National Park and the Peninsula in Washington State that, so far has eluded any critical and significant artistic engagement, the primary aim of the series is to update visual depictions of nature from the 19th and 20th centuries to our time in the 21st. Instead of depicting National Park as a place of national pride, of reverence, for leisure and aesthetic pleasure, or to seek solace and silence, the series reframes “America’s Best Idea” as a mirror onto which the detritus and hubris of industrial progress is reflected with clarity. The talk will begin with a brief history of the park, which includes crimes against Native American communities through settler colonialism, acrimonious and protracted environmental campaigns to protect the last remaining old growth coastal temperate rainforests from logging, and an ongoing long environmentalism campaign to decolonize nature. Even though “Trouble in Paradise” was initiated with the intention to visually document recent climate change impacts, which includes drought-induced rainforest fire in 2015 and mass die-off of sea stars that started in 2013, but the project took a sharp turn toward something else, to apprehend how do the tourist, the Park Service, and inhabitants of the area, react and respond when disasters arrive at the doorstep. The inquiry proved illuminating: visitation to the park went up to a historic high; loggers and nature lovers happily shared the road largely oblivious to “Fire Ban” and “Burn Ban”; and “Fire Information” didn’t dissuade tourists from snapping selfies. But a new realization also emerged—photography is as much about reading as it is about seeing, and therein lies a glimmer of radical hope.

Subhankar Banerjee, a self-taught artist and writer and an accidental activist, is Lannan Chair of Land Arts of the American West and Professor of Art and Ecology at the University of New Mexico. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Nottingham Contemporary and Biennale of Sydney; and writing published in anthologies and progressive media, including Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies and TomDispatch. Over the past sixteen years his work primarily addressed resource wars, climate change, and indigenous human rights in the Arctic, and contributed to defeating and/or slowing down oil and gas development in some of the biologically and culturally significant places, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Teshekpuk Lake wetland, and the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. He collaborates closely with the Gwich’in and the Iñupiat indigenous communities in Arctic North America. Banerjee is editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point. He has been working on a long-term visual ecology (Arctic, desert, forest) trilogy on (non)human.


2/28: Screening of the following shorts videos:

-David Kelly / Patty Chang, Spiritual Myopia, 2015

-Harun Farocki, Silver and the Cross, 2010

-Sammy Baloji, Mémoire, 2006


3/7: Screening of Elizabeth Knafo’s Rare Earth, 2014 and Presentation by the artist

 Elizabeth Knafo is a filmmaker whose work engages issues of extraction, materialisms, and social and environmental justice in the form documentary film to writing, design and publishing. Knafo recently completed Rare Earth, the first in a trilogy on the geography, geology, and political economies of the Mojave Desert, which also includes the films De Re Metallica (in collaboration with Brigid McCaffrey) andHall of Mirrors. She has collaborated on Sandy Resources, a printed guide of resources available after Hurricane Sandy with Jesse Goldstein and Occuprint, P.P.S.: Open Letters to Occupy Wall Street, Strike the Prisons, and Textbooks for Texas. Knafo and Goldstein are currently working on a collaborative research and publication project, The Rare Earth Catalog. Knafo completed her MFA at the Hunter Integrated Media Arts department in 2013 and is currently living in Los Angeles.


3/14: Screening of Sanjay Rawal’s Food Chains, 2014, with Presentation by Ann López (Center for Farmworker Families)

Food Chains explores the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like fast food and supermarkets. The narrative of the film focuses on an intrepid group of tomato pickers from Southern Florida – the Coalition of Immokalee Workers or CIW – who are revolutionizing farm labor. Food Chains premiered at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and screened subsequently at the Tribeca Film Festival and Guadalajara Film Festival.

The film will be followed by Dr. Ann López, “Farmworkers and Food Production in California.”

 Dr. Ann López is an emerita professor and has taught courses in biology, environmental science, ecology and botany in the biology department at San José City College for many years. She is an independent researcher whose research addresses the human side of the binational migration circuit from the subsistence and small producer farms of west central Mexico to employment in California’s corporate agribusiness. Dr. López has worked with over 33 farm worker families in the Salinas and Pajaro valleys. She has also studied 22 of their family farms in the west central Mexico countryside, and has received recognition and awards for her work. Her book entitled The Farmworkers’ Journey summarizes the results, arguments and conclusions of her research and was published by UC Press in June 2007. In 2008 she was also chosen as one of Silicon Valley’s 100 most influential Latinos in the category of Technology, Health and Science by the Mexican American Community Services Agency (MACSA). In March 2008, her book received the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America from the Society for the Anthropology of North America.