The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago presents a two-channel video installation,Untitled (Structures) by artist Leslie Hewitt in collaboration with award-winning cinematographerBradford Young. The work features a series of short, silent vignettes filmed at sites connected to the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for racial equality in the United States. The exhibition is on view May 17 to August 31, 2014 and is organized by Naomi Beckwith, MCA Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator.
Inspired by an archive of Civil Rights-era photographs-many of them iconic-at the Menil Collection in Houston, Hewitt and Young shot Untitled (Structures) originally on 35 mm film. They worked in the Arkansas Delta, Memphis, and Chicago, at sites that were significant to the Great Migration and Civil Rights era. In Chicago, the artists visited the former Johnson Publishing Company building, the once-headquarters of Ebony and Jet magazines, and the Rosenwald Apartments, an affordable housing complex in the Bronzeville neighborhood, amongst other locations. Hewitt and Young do not set out to document what each historically-significant site looks like in the present day, necessarily; rather they investigate how meaning might resonate in these often unmarked spaces over time, a more subjective search for historical traces. Untitled (Structures) includes scenes that are so still that they might resemble photographs rather than film footage, aside from subtle movements like lights flickering or people blinking. This style defies conventional cinematic representations of passing time and slows down the act of looking.
New York-based visual artist Leslie Hewitt received a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University. In addition to her films, her studio practice includes photography-as a way of exploring time- sculpture, and installation-based work. She has held residencies at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, and she was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Bradford Young moved to Chicago from Louisville, Kentucky, during his youth and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., for undergraduate and graduate film school, where he studied under Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima. Young has won cinematography awards at the Sundance Film Festival for his work on Pariah (2011), Mother of George (2013), and Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013). This is Hewitt and Young's second film collaboration.
Untitled (Structures) is produced by Karin Chien and was co-commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, the Menil Collection, and the Des Moines Art Center.
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