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Sep 21, 2018 at 10:00 am – Sep 23, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Place is the Space

A 3-day workshop on place-based documentary

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.

PLACE IS THE SPACE is a brand new 3 day workshop that asks how we can mine our individual experiences to understand our physical surroundings. This course takes its name from Space is the Place, a 1972 film and song by musician, artist, poet and philosopher, Sun Ra. Both the film and the song appeal to the people of planet earth to use “innerspace”, the part of the mind not normally accessible to consciousness, to understand and come to terms with outer space and the wider world around us. Within the context of this course, Ra’s transposed title can be interpreted as an appeal to artists, filmmakers, and media practitioners to come to terms with the places in which we find ourselves, through an exploration of the spaces inside of ourselves.

Often, non-fiction films and media practices that center place or landscape hone in on the location as the site of primary significance. PLACE IS THE SPACE will encourage a different methodology. Over the course of three days with a group of instructors from across the field, participants will examine the theory and practice of non-fiction media that centralizes our own subjective experiences while still responding to or corresponding with a particular landscape.

Participants will be inspired by practical advice and creative provocations from filmmakers, programmers, media artists and scholars, who explore questions of representation, aesthetics, research and perspective in creating and understanding place-based non-fiction. From films and installations to performance and site-specific audio pieces, participants will be familiarized with a range of work that delves into these themes and will have the opportunity to workshop a work-in-progress with this stellar team of guest instructors. Celebrated filmmaker Ephraim Asili will lead this course, and be joined by filmmakers and scholars Toby Lee, Christopher Harris, Rea Tajiri, Jackie Goss and programmer Aily Nash, for tailored presentations and seminars each day of this three-day workshop.

There will be a public event, still/here with Christopher Harris, in conjunction with this workshop on 9/20. All are welcome to join!


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, curators and media artists.

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).

$300 early bird registration by September 6th, 2018 at 5PM; $285 for members.

$350 regular registration; $335 for members.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until August 30th. After September 6th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of August 30th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, Sept 21, – 10:00a - 5:00p

AM: Intro + Ephraim Asili

In this session we will discuss some of the workshops general themes and guest presenters. We will also examine the possibility of place/landscape based documentary practice as a process oriented
multimedia art practice. We will be looking at several examples of moving image, sound, and object oriented  works that explore this approach to the documentary impulse.

PM: Rea Tajiri

“Haunting and Dispossession”

In this session we’ll explore the notion of ‘the ghost’ as it relates to place, landscape, unacknowledged histories, dispossession and ancestors.  I’ll be screening clips from my films History and Memory, and Lordville, and will share documentation from my recent installation Watridori-birds of passage in order to discuss the visual, sonic and storytelling devices I used to activate landscape in relation to history and dispossession.

Saturday, Sept 22 – 10:00a - 4:00p

AM: Christopher Harris

“All Blues”

Drawing on the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Roscoe Mitchell and James Brown, Harris will discuss how Black music has informed his approach to experimental film poetics and lead him to think of the movie screen as a landscape of estrangement.

PM: Toby Lee

In this session, we will explore non-fiction work that engages with place not only through representation or documentation, but through social practice, material intervention, bodily and sonic encounter. Representing a wide range of approaches, the projects we will consider invite us to experience place otherwise, and in the process they challenge us to expand our usual understandings of what a documentary practice can be, and do.

Sunday, Sept 23 – 10:00a - 5:00p

AM: Aily Nash

Curator Aily Nash will share a few short works and excerpts that concern artists’ examination of place to reflect on the intersection of personal and political histories. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with the group.

PM: Jackie Goss

“Sound Tells You Where You Are”
Goss will show scenes from “The Observers” and “The Measures” and discuss about sound editing decisions (using location recordings, live and recorded voices, sync, music, foley, and stolen tracks) to suggest the idiosyncrasies of a certain place.

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Share / Discussion / Exercise


Lunch (on your own)


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Workshop Exercise + Critique


Wrap Up


Ephraim Asili is an African-American Artist, Filmmaker, D.J, Radio host, and traveler. Inspired by his day-to-day wanderings Asili creates art that situates itself as a series of meditations on everyday experience and media culture. Through audio-visual examinations of societal iconography identity, geography, and architecture Asili strives to present a personal vision. The results are perhaps best described as an amalgam of pop, African-American and “moving image” culture filtered through an acute sense of rhythmic improvisation and compositional awareness.

Ephraim Asili currently serves as Technical Director for the Film and Electronic Arts Department at Bard College and hosts a radio show on WGXC 90.7 FM Hudson, New York. His films have screened at venues including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Wavelengths, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Christopher Harris is a filmmaker whose films and video installations read African American historiography through the poetics and aesthetics of experimental cinema. His work employs manually and photo-chemically altered appropriated moving images, staged re-enactments of archival artifacts and interrogations of documentary conventions.

He has exhibited widely at venues throughout North America and Europe including solo exhibitions and screenings at MICROSCOPE Gallery in Brooklyn, Autograph ABP in London, the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio; group exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Artists’ Film Biennial at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and festivals including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the VIENNALE-Vienna International Film Festival and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, among many others.

Harris is the recipient of a 2015 Creative Capital grant and a 2017 Alpert/MacDowell Fellowship.

Jacqueline Goss makes movies about scientific systems and how they change the ways we think about ourselves. Her two most recent works are “The Observers” –a feature-ish length portrait of a weather observatory on the windiest mountain in the world and “The Measures” – an essay film made with artist Jenny Perlin about the history of the metric system and “invention” of the meter.

A native of New Hampshire, Goss is a 2008 Tribeca Film Institute Media Arts Fellow and the 2007 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in Film and Video. Goss teaches in the Film and Electronic Arts program at Bard College in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Rea Tajiri is a filmmaker and visual artist who earned her BFA and MFA degree from the California Institute of the Arts in post-studio art. In 2015, she was awarded the Pew Fellowship in the Arts for her filmmaking. Tajiri’s poetic documentary Lordville was recently included in the show After Life (What Remains) at the Alice Gallery in Seattle. In Spring 2018, she completed a multi-site installation in Philadelphia as part of Asian Arts’ Initiative’s 25th Anniversary project (ex)CHANGE. Wataridori-birds of passage – activated the history of the Philadelphia Hostel; a temporary residence for Japanese Americans coming to Philadelphia after release from the US Concentration camps. Tajiri’s work-in-progress documentary Wisdom Gone Wild was recently awarded an ITVS Diversity Development Fund Grant and the Center for Asian American Media’s Documentary Fund Award. The film presents a new look at dementia and caregiving; rather than a portrait of loss, dementia is seen as a wisdom that has “gone wild.” The film will be completed in 2019. Tajiri is a Professor in the Film Media Arts Department at Temple University where she teaches classes in Documentary filmmaking.

Toby Lee is an artist, anthropologist, and Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She works across film, video, drawing, and text, and her media work has been been exhibited at the Locarno Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Museum of the Moving Image (NYC), and the 2014 Whitney Biennial, among others. Her writing has appeared in Film Festivals: Theory, History, Method, Practice (Routledge, 2016) and Coming Soon to a Festival Near You: Programming Film Festivals (St. Andrews, 2012), and she is currently writing a book on the politics of cultural production in contemporary Greece. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Film Study Center at Harvard University, and the NY State Council on the Arts.

Aily Nash is a curator based in New York. She is co-curator of Projections, the New York Film Festival’s artists’ film and video section, and program advisor to the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Short Film section. She recently served as a Biennial advisor and co-curator of the film program for the 2017 Whitney Biennial, and was Head of Programming for the 2018 edition of the Images Festival in Toronto. She has curated programs and exhibitions for MoMA PS1 (New York), Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York), Anthology Film Archives (New York), Kiasma (Helsinki), Tabakalera (San Sebastian), FACT (Liverpool), Image Forum (Tokyo) and others. She curated five seasons of the Basilica Screenings series at Basilica Hudson (2012-2016). Her writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, BOMB, Artforum.com, Film Comment, and elsewhere. In 2015, she was awarded a Curatorial Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation. She is currently commissioning new works by James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Lucy Raven through the Finnish Cultural Institute New York’s MOBIUS Curatorial Fellowship in partnership with PUBLICS and Heureka, Finnish science center.

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Sep 21, 2018 at 10:00 am
Sep 23, 2018 at 5:00 pm
$335.00 – $350.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States

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