The Distance Between Slits and Screen

This two-part, online only, film program runs parallel to Cauleen Smith’s solo exhibition, Bronze Icebergs, currently on view at Kunstverein. It expands on the artist’s own interests and filmic oeuvre, touching upon topics and methodologies by kindred-spirited filmmakers and finding itself in latent friction with a selection of archival material from the collection of Eye Filmmuseum.

This second part of the program will run on an endless loop until December 23 and dives deeper into Smith’s use of Afrofuturism and highlights the artists’ interest in both real and imagined spaces and territories that transcend the everyday. Alongside Smith’s filmic explorations of the power of speculative thinking and the fantastic, the artist, in close conversation with us, selected a number of works by contemporary makers who share her perspectives.

“Afrofuturism, for me, is about speculating on the potentiality of what is known about technology and physics to create metaphors that allow me to explore an African diasporic past and generate possible narratives for the future…Afrofuturism is also a rumination on memories to which I have no access. My investment in it as a production strategy has run its course; Afrofuturism provides a way to investigate trauma very explicitly.”—Cauleen Smith

For their support to The Distance Between Slits and Screen we wish to thank all the artists, Simona Monizza, Leenke Ripmeester, Marente Bloemheuvel and the team of the Eye Filmmuseum collection, who kindly co-organised this with us.

[Click the video to unmute]

René Hazekamp, Ari Versluis
16mm, 1988

Four dancers sprout from the earth and slowly untangle themselves from their native soil. They learn to stand and move. Finally, they sink back into the earth. This film was restored and digitized by Collection Eye Filmmuseum, the Netherlands.

Everlane Moraes
Cuba, 2018, 21’

In the dense night, when the moon rises, those who live a mundane daily life without water are hypnotized by the powers of Yemaya, the goddess of the sea. Drawing on a mythical story and small portraits in Havana, the film depicts a journey through a magical world.

Children Inhale
Tina Schott
2008, 3’55”

This video by multidisciplinary artist Tina Schott was originally intended to be a music video, made from found footage. A mass of colourfully dressed people dance joyfully to the rhythm of a song. A feeling of hope and melancholy fills the screen.

Everybody Dies!
Nuotama Bodomo
2016, 9’

The darkly comedic short film in the style of a public access TV show stars Ripa the Grim Reaper, who teaches Black kids about the day they’ll die. Bodomo directed Everybody Dies! for the omnibus feature Collective:Unconscious (2016). The work potentially offers a lens through which to understand the systemic violence against Black people, and to also examine how fiction can mediate in the narratives around violent events and histories.

The Fullness of Time
Cauleen Smith
2008, 49’

Smith used the limitless terrain of science fiction to focus on resistance to historical erasure in the New Orleans post-Katrina landscape. Her use of montage, gestural drawing, and sound make for a richly layered form that mirrors the conceptually nuanced story line. The experimental film was produced by Creative Time and Paul Chan in collaboration with Kalamu ya Salaam.

Carolina Caycedo
2019, 9’30”

Through African and indigenous spiritual and dance practices from the Americas, the film reconceptualized spaces within the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, California. Figures embody past entities returning to the earthly realm, as they inhabit historically white spaces in unconventional ways, marking the museum’s collections as sites for ritual, sensuality, and divination. Caycedo worked with choreographer Marina Magalhães to develop gestures inspired by Candomblé spirituality and the goddess Oxúm, a deity of water, pleasure, fertility, and sexuality. The work was developed through a joint collaboration between the Huntington and the Vincent Price Art Museum in Los Angeles, and was shot by videographer David de Rozas.

Uit het Rijk der Kristallen
J.C. Mol
35mm, 1927, 13’24”

From the Realm of the Crystal shows the imperceptibly slow crystallization processes of various chemicals. Though the film was produced for educational and scientific use, it also resonated within avant-garde circles. For instance, since Mol’s scientific experiments were very much in line with the aim of the avant-garde to establish film as an autonomous artform, From the Realm of the Crystals was included in a screening in the Paris ‘Studio 28’. This film was restored and digitized by Collection Eye Filmmuseum, the Netherlands.

La Cueva Negra (The Black Cave)
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
2013, 20’

La Cueva Negra explores Paso del Indio, an indigenous burial ground in Puerto Rico that was discovered during the construction of a highway, and eventually paved over. Informed by interviews with local residents and archaeologists that worked on the excavation, as well as regular interactions with two local boys living there, the film offers a reflection on the origins and meanings of the site, which becomes in the process an allegory for the island’s convoluted history.