Block Museum brings rare Latin American films to Chicago

Ism Ism Ism is the first major survey of Latin American experimental cinema in U.S.

The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University has announced that it will bring the groundbreaking film program “Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina)” to Chicago Oct. 3 to Nov. 16 in partnership with four other venues in Chicago. All film programs are free and open to all. The complete schedule is available on The Block website.

“Ism, Ism, Ism” represents the first major survey of Latin America’s vibrant experimental film history to tour the United States. The series features key historical and contemporary works from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the U.S.

Curated by filmmakers and critics Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza, the program introduces U.S. audiences to a selection of rare cinematic works in combination with resources to foster understanding and discussion regarding the history and aesthetics of the films. The series explores a wealth of materials culled from the forgotten corners of Latin American film archives as well as extraordinary recent productions from across the continent.

The program is presented by Block Cinema, the museum’s free quarterly screening series, which is dedicated to highlighting the diversity of voices and practices in the media arts field. “Ism, Ism, Ism” runs in conjunction with the exhibition “Pop América:1965-1975”,Sept. 21 to Dec. 8 at The Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Hélio Oiticica, Agrippina é Roma-Manhattan (1972)

Transformative encounters

“Encompassing work from more than a dozen countries and surveying more than eight decades of filmmaking, this program promises to profoundly reshape the way we understand the history of artists’ cinema,” said Michael Metzger, The Block Museum Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Art. ““Ism, Ism, Ism” engages communities too often excluded from the discussion around, and making of, experimental films, offering encounters that can be transformative for a new generation of artists, scholars and filmgoers.”  

“Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America” was organized by Los Angeles Filmforum as part of The  Getty Foundation’s “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA project, a large-scale initiative supporting Latin American-themed exhibitions across art institutions throughout Southern California. The project was a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with the city of Los Angeles. After touring extensively in Los Angeles, New York, Mexico City and Medellín, Columbia, The Block will present the first showing of these rare films in Chicago. 

“I’m very much looking forward to sharing “Ismo, Ismo, Ismo”with audiences in my hometown of Chicago,” said curator Jesse Lerner. “The film series is the result of a collaborative effort of nine researchers from nine different countries, offering a survey of the rich and little-known history of experimental media arts in Latin America.”

Lydia García Millán, Color (1955)

A citywide event

“To achieve the transformative potential of programs like “Ism, Ism, Ism,” they need to be seen by diverse communities of viewers and makers — particularly in Chicago, where a network of galleries, museums and cinemas has emerged to meet the demand of audiences hungry for creative approaches to representation and inclusion,” Metzger said. 

The Block will host five programs from the “Ism, Ism, Ism”series at its cinema at Northwestern University in Evanston, and will co-present another six programs at venues around Chicago, partnering with ACRE Projects in Pilsen, Comfort Station in Logan Square, filmfront in Pilsen and the Nightingale Cinema in Noble Square.

“The Block’s commitments to presenting work across time, culture and media, and to rewriting the history of artistic modernism with a global perspective, make it an ideal institution to spearhead the presentation of “Ism, Ism, Ism”in the Chicago area,” said Lisa Corrin, The Block Museum of Art Ellen Philips Katz Director.

“We are proud to be partnering with four of the city’s most exciting independent screening venues for this presentation. These venues share The Block’s dynamic and inclusive approach to programming, one which responds to the needs and interests of the communities they serve,” Corrin said. “By taking the mission of The Block beyond its walls, we seek to foster dialogue and inspiration throughout the city, and to play a leading role in shaping new, more expansive understandings of media history and culture.”

“I’m thrilled that Nightingale can take part in bringing the “Ism, Ism, Ism”program to Chicago,” said Emily Eddy, co-curator of Nightingale Cinema. “This program is incredibly vast, wide-ranging in content and under-seen, so it’s important for us to reach as large of an audience as possible. Screening at different locations around Chicago will both increase the program’s audience and bring this exciting series to community-building screening spaces.”

Claudio Caldini, Un enano en el jardín (1981)

Program Schedule

Dialogues with Che: Appropriations of a Revolutionary Figure
Thursday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.
The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Ill.

Meta: Cinema Critiques Cinema 
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 7 p.m.
Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dreams of Suitcases and a Blue Lobster
Friday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Ill.

Dark Matter
Saturday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.
Filmfront, 1740 W. 18th St., Chicago

Countercultures and Undergrounds
Friday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Ill.

Bilingual Aesthetics
Saturday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.
Filmfront, 1740 W. 18th St., Chicago

Recycled Cinema
Friday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m.
The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Ill.

Estrellas de Ayer: Latin Camp
Friday, Nov. 1, 8:30 p.m.
The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Ill.

Psychedelia and Abstraction
Wednesday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m.
Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m.
Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Urban Harmonies/Dissonant Cities
Saturday, Nov. 16
ACRE, 1345 W. 19th St., Chicago

Jose Rodriguez Soltero, Lupe (1966)

Publication and Credits

“Ism, Ism, Ism” is accompanied by a bilingual publication“Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America”, edited by Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza (University of California Press, 2017). The book places Latino and Latin American experimental cinema within a broader dialogue that explores different periods, cultural contexts, image-making models and considerations of these filmmakers within international cinema. The book is available on the University of California Press website

Lead support for “Ism, Ism, Ism” is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation. Significant additional support comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

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