Since the mid 1990’s, Bill Brown and Thomas Comerford have been studying the landscapes of North America. With film cameras and sound recorders, Comerford and Brown give quiet attention to our everyday surroundings, offering glimpses into histories of North America, those commemorated as well as those long-forgotten. This evening’s films — Comerford’s The Indian Boundary Line and Brown’s The Mountain State — focus on the regions of Illinois and West Virginia, respectively, but in exploring these sites, find recurring ideas, patterns, practices and designs that speak to the construction of the United States.
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Mar 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm
The Indian Boundary Line and The Mountain State
w/ Thomas Comerford, Paul Lloyd Sargent and Colin Beckett.
The Indian Boundary Line
Thomas Comerford,USA, 2010, 41 minutes, digital projection
The Indian Boundary Line follows a road in Chicago, Rogers Avenue, that traces the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis boundary between the United States and “Indian Territory.” In doing so, it examines the collision between the vernacular landscape, with its storefronts, short-cut footpaths and picnic tables, and the symbolic one, replete with historical markers, statues, and fences. Through its observations and audio-visual juxtapositions, The Indian Boundary Line meditates on a span of land in Chicago about 12 miles long, but suggests how this land and its history are an index for the shifting inhabitants, relationships, boundaries and ideas of landscape — as well as the consequences — which have accompanied the transformation of the “New World.”
“Playing on the tensions between the conditions of the two worlds present and past, comfortable and unconquered, developed and free, Comerford’s movie displays a resonant compassion and a visual patience that infuses forgotten history with new life.”- CINE-FILE
The Mountain State
Bill Brown, USA, 2003, 23 minutes, 16 mm
A brief history of the westward march of the United States across West Virginia,as told by 25 roadside historical markers and the restless ghosts who haunt them.
The Mountain State screened at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010, and won ‘Best 16mm Film’ at the 42nd Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2004.
Thomas Comerford is a media artist, musician, and educator residing in Chicago. In 1997, he embarked on an influential series of films, made with a pinhole motion picture camera and home-made microphone, under the title, Cinema Obscura (1997-2002). His recent films are site-specific to Chicago and explore the evidence and revision of histories in the landscape. His work has screened at many festivals and venues, including the Gene Siskel Film Center, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, and the London Film Festival. In collaboration with filmmaker Bill Brown, Comerford also has toured the United States with his films, screening in spaces ranging from church basements and backyards to regular old movie theaters.
Bill Brown is a filmmaker from the “Paris of the Plains,” Lubbock, Texas. He has made several short experimental documentaries about the dusty corners of the North American landscape. Along with filmmaker Thomas Comerford, Brown created the Lo Fi Landscapes tour, traveling across country in 2002 and 2005 with a program of short films concerned with history and place. The Museum of Modern Art hosted a retrospective of Brown’s work in 2003 as part of its MediaScope series.
Paul Lloyd Sargent is an artist and writer living between Brooklyn and Wellesley Island, NY. His recent work examines the impact of the international shipping industry on the ecologies, economies, and communities along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. He has published in AREA|Chicago and Proximity Magazine and presented his multi-media work at such venues as Exit Art, Conflux, and Smack Mellon in New York; Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong; Gallery M in Berlin; BaseKamp in Philadelphia; Big Orbit and the University at Buffalo Art Gallery in Buffalo; Mess Hall, Hyde Park Art Center, and Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois in Chicago.