What can we UNDO?
The UNDO Study Group is a kind of grassroots book club, but for documentary art, focused on sharing ideas, urgent issues, and inventive approaches. It’s not just streaming powerful and poetic features and shorts. It’s sparking discussion and deeper investigation, through reading, listening and responding in small, self-organized groups that together form a larger collective experience.
UnionDocs invites you to link up with us for this experiment in building a community for collaborative research and conversation.
What’s the point?
We believe that documentary art — especially challenging or boundary-pushing work, when paired with thoughtful context and open debate — is an invaluable tool for understanding the complexities of contemporary life and creating a more compassionate, engaged, and just society.
With this potential in mind, we wanted to dream up a way to create, not a stuffy seminar, but an accessible and participatory framework to stay connected. We want it to be fun, social and geared towards an open and evolving conversation. This is an opportunity to unpack our own understandings in intimate, relaxed surroundings, to orient our thinking on the abundance of compelling images and sounds we encounter in the world and to highlight what we might learn together, cooperatively deconstructing (or, like, UNDO-ing) our preconceptions.
Gather your friends and peers. Or join a group to meet new folks!
Together get links and watch incredible features and shorts that otherwise might be hard to get your hands on. We’ll send along a few provocations to encourage an informed, structured, and very real (leave the posturing at home) discussion about the work. Your choice: gather remotely (for now, eventually meet up locally!), process over group chat, or engage internationally. A group can be as small as 2 dedicated people or a rowdy crowd of up to 14. We’ll ask you to designate a point of contact who will coordinate a bit, distribute the material from UnionDocs and our collaborators, and kick the discussion off.
Each group will receive…
Access to hard-to-find documentary art to screen on their own time.
Complementary materials (readings, audio, etc.) recommended by featured artists and critics to provide context and varied perspectives on the work.
Alluring pathways, quotes, clips and burning questions to open up a constructive, fun and organic dialogue.
Support for hosting remote connections and exclusive invites to join live events (remote for now) with featured guests.
Opportunities to feedback with the larger collective of UNDO Study Groups to combine knowledge, raise questions and share epiphanies.
What are we studying?
In line with our general programs at UnionDocs, we’ll focus on groundbreaking forms that expand our own understanding and experience and provoke the field of documentary art.
We all know how the work that challenges us most is sometimes the most difficult to watch on your own; that was pretty much the impetus for starting our little cinema. Not only is it hard to locate physically, the motivation and mental energy required to watch can be tough to muster without a shared commitment of attention. That’s why we are organizing this social way of watching together with lots of resources to help us approach the relevant questions and meaningful insights that these films have to offer.
To kick things off, we’re inviting you to follow four inquiries from this year’s UNDO Fellowship recipients, some of the most exciting and critical artists and writers working in and around documentary art today. Our first focus is thinking through an “Embodied Existence” with artist / writer Steve Reinke and artists Dani & Sheilah ReStack. They ask, what can an artist do with the world? Their dialogue spans ideas of world building, subjectivity, the domestic space, the utility of narrative, motherhood and more.
We’ll be adding partners, curators, and other programs alongside these. Stay tuned!
Essayist and artist Steve Reinke will join collaborative artists Dani and Sheilah ReStack to think through a queered phenomenological discourse of documentary practice that asks what an artist does with the world. Building from Restack’s “feral domesticity,” Reinke expands into an exploration of how “feral subjectivity” — a hybridized approach to filmmaking, one that mode-shifts between approaches — opens up a new set of possibilities for representing the endlessly complex plenitude of being in the world, and reinscribes that representation with the physical, sensual processes of an embodied existence.
This experience is Free and Open to the public!
But it’s also a lot of work for us over here at UnionDocs. If you think it’s a worthwhile experiment, please select a contribution level for monthly support so we can continue to grow what we hope is an expansive and exciting way to stay connected.
Choose your level of support
A group can be as small as 2 dedicated people or a rowdy crowd of 14.
Your group can be by-invitation only (i.e. for you and your friends!) or you can make it open to anyone, and those looking for a group to join can sign up to be in any open Study Group.
This designation is made when an initiator for a Study Group signs up! You can update your preferences after the fact though if you want to change your group’s status.
For now groups will meet entirely remotely. We’ll facilitate and help to organize online screenings, distribution of materials, meetings and conversation.
When we have moved beyond social distancing, there may be opportunities for in-person gatherings for locally based groups.
As we enter this experiment, we will limit the number of participants based on our initial capacity to run things but plan to expand as this program grows and develops. For now initiated groups will be accommodated on a first-come first-serve basis.
The materials we are providing are just there for you as a resource. Your group can decide what feels useful to you all for how you want to engage together with the work. This is not homework, or required!
Stay tuned – your first batch of materials will come to you shortly along with an outline on how to get connected with everyone.