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Feb 24, 2023 at 10:00 am – Feb 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Recycling the Screen: Sourcing Materials for Nonfiction Art

Led by artist Leslie Thornton with curator Thomas Zummer, & Rebecca Cleman, Sid Iandovka, Onyeka Igwe & Keith Sanborn

Please note: This workshop will be held in UnionDocs’ new space in Ridgewood!
We’re now at: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood,  NY – 11385

In a world overloaded with visual material, accessible footage there for the taking, and endless streams of ‘content’ we encounter and generate every day, there is infinite potential towards a practice of remixing, reappropriating and rewriting. How do we organize and arrange these images towards new narratives? How can the use of archival imagery be used to challenge and create counter-narratives? What is the difference between shooting vs. finding material? And how can we approach the question and ethics of reappropriation? 

Over the course of three days, join acclaimed filmmaker and artist Leslie Thornton (Luna, Peggy and Fred in Hell) and an all-star lineup of media artists creating the most compelling uses of found footage and archive materials in their work to discuss and think through various modes and approaches to the “sourcing” of images.

This workshop will unfold as an investigation into the many ways we accumulate raw material, whether through revisiting our own footage, or acquiring found imagery. We will explore a range of non-fictional practices to discuss how the use and mixing of shot and found footage expands the space of media in many potential and radical directions.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from guest speakers including archivists, archival researchers, nonfiction filmmakers, and visual artists- as well as to present their own work during work in progress sessions- to initiate or expand their own creative journey into the archival world.

On Friday, Rebeca Cleman (Executive Director at Electronic Arts Intermix) will explore modes of presentation and curation. On Saturday, Onyeka Igwe (a so-called archive, No Dance, No Palaver) will discuss the process of recovering history through colonial archives, and Keith Sanborn will introduce workshop participants to his archival research on pioneering Soviet filmmaker Esfir Shub, the French situationists, and Putin-era Russian television. On Sunday, interested participants will be able to share a work-in-progress and receive feedback on a current project, and Sid Iandovka (horizon, signal to Noise, a minor piece of damage) will close the weekend sharing his approaches to working with archival and appropriated images.

Come spend a weekend exploring various methods of working with archives, and come away with inspiration and information to guide your own work!

Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].

NOTE: This workshop will require in-person participation from all participants. Each participant must present proof of vaccination. Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for documentary filmmakers,  animators, podcasters, journalists, and media artists. This workshop is in person and will be conducted in compliance with CDC protocols.

$350 early bird registration by Feb 17th, 2023 at 11:59PM.

$400 regular registration.

UnionDocs will offer the equivalent of 2 scholarships for BIPOC filmmakers and media artists expressing financial need. Applicants should reach out to [email protected] in order to fill a scholarship inquiry by February 10, 2023.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until Feb 17th. After Feb 17th, 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.

NOTE: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash.  After the early bird registration deadline of Feb 17th, 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, Feb 24: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Welcome & intros
10:30am – 12:30pm Intro by Leslie Thornton
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Rebecca Cleman
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Saturday, Feb 25: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, review of previous day
10:30am – 12:30pm Onyeka Igwe
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Keith Sanborn
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Sunday, Feb 26: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, review of previous day
10:30am – 12:30pm Participant work-in-progress
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Sid Iandovka
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

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


First Workshop Session




Second Workshop Session


Wrap Up


Leslie Thornton (Tennessee, 1951)

The pioneering career of American filmmaker and artist Leslie Thornton spans five decades. She occupied an important place in cinema history early in her career, straddling structural filmmaking and the feminist avant-garde. Her lush, complex projects probe past the boundaries of language and formal convention. Difficult to categorize or describe, they are steeped in theoretical interest and filled with rich and intuitive imagery, in experimental narratives crossing science fiction, ethnographic, and documentary forms. Her interest in how technologies dominate American culture, constructing our realities and shaping our sense of history, time, and the natural world is fully manifest in her best known work, Peggy and Fred in Hell (1985–2015). This epic video presents a dystopian vision of two children apparently raised by an AI entity, the sole inhabitants of a socially demolished world. Most recently Thornton was an artist resident at CERN and Caltech, where she shot and developed a whole new archive of encounters with “the space of science,” taken up in her latest projects. Thornton’s experimental practice has continued to evolve as she incorporates new technologies in her videos and installations. Her work is widely acclaimed and exhibited throughout the world.

“Her work found its first location, and inspiration, in what in those times was understood as an ‘avant-garde’ film practice; the quoted term, suspiciously suspended, is rarely invoked in these times, but the rigor, the pure oppositional avowal, and the belief in moving imagery’s electro-shock potential [endures].”—Cinematexas

Thomas Zummer is a scholar, writer, and artist. Publications include “Projection and Dis/embodiment: Genealogies of the Virtual” in Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964-1977; “Variables: Notations on Stability, Permeability and Plurality in Media Artifacts” in Saving the Image: Essays on Film and Video; CRASH: Nostalgia for the Absence of Cyberspace (with Robert Reynolds); “On the Notion of an Improvisatory Archive,’ in Biennale de l”Image en Mouvement 2018–The Sound of Screens Imploding; “How to Do Words with Things: Inference, Reference, and Difference in Aesthetic and Scientific Practices,”  in Intercalary. Thomas Zummer is also a practicing artist, exhibiting at Exit Art, Whitebox, and Frieze (NYC), San José Museum of Art, Palais de Beaux Artes (Brussels),  and Malmö Konsthall (Sweden), to name a few. Zummer has curated major exhibitions at Wexner Center for the Arts, Threadwaxing Space, Katonah Museum of Art, and Anthology Film Archives. As a lecturer and professor he  has taught at European Graduate School (Switzerland), NYU (Critical Studies), Tyler School of Art and Kuvo Art Institute (Helsinki).

Rebecca Cleman is the Executive Director of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), a leading nonprofit resource that has fostered the creation, exhibition, distribution and preservation of media art since 1971. EAI’s catalogue of over 4000 titles by over 200 artists is one of the most important collections of video and media art in the world.

Onyeka Igwe is an artist and researcher working between cinema and installation, born and based in London, UK. Through her work, Onyeka is animated by the question —  how do we live together? — with particular interest in the ways the sensorial, spatial and non-canonical ways of knowing can provide answers to this question. She uses embodiment, archives, narration and text to create structural ‘figure-of-eights’, a form that exposes a multiplicity of narratives. Her works have been shown in the UK and internationally at film festivals and galleries. She was awarded the New Cinema Award at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival 2019, 2020 Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for Experimental Film, 2021 Foundwork Artist Prize and has been nominated for the 2022 Jarman Award and Max Mara Artis Prize for Women.

Sid Iandovka is a New York-based musician and visual artist whose practice extends across many different media, including moving images. Together with Anya Tsyrlina (though only selected works of theirs are co-authored in a traditional sense), they have collaborated (on and off) for almost thirty years, ultimately creating a joint, entirely independent, “homemade” production approach for their films. Their practice is not rooted in any state; it is immaterial and doesn’t benefit from any national/international funding, resources, or structures. The foundations of their work and sensibility can be traced back to the context of their formative years, when they met as teenagers playing experimental noise in their hometown in Siberia. This music practice morphed into experiments with VJing and new media, with the same sense of punk’s DIY spirit taken up in their practice of recording, manipulating, cutting together, and fucking with moving images, ranging from archival film to crazy CGI. Recently, their films have been screened at festivals including Art of the Real, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam and Viennale.

Keith Sanborn is a media artist, theorist and translator based in New York.His artistic practice includes film, video, photography, installation, and performance. That work has been the subject of numerous one-person shows and has been featured in major museum surveys including the Whitney Biennial, the American Century, and Monter/Sampler (Centre Pompidou) and festivals including EMAF, OVNI, and The Rotterdam International Film Festival. He has translated the work of Debord, Viénet, Wolman, Bataille, Napoleon, Gioli, Brecht, Farocki, Kuleshov and Shub. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Bard, UCSD, SUNY/Buffalo and the San Francisco Art Institute, among others. He now blissfully ignores academia to follow his own artistic and intellectual pursuits.

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Feb 24, 2023 at 10:00 am
Feb 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
QUEENS, NY 11385 United States
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