What does it mean to listen or look deeply and critically across time? How can empathy help us move towards a collaborative model for placing ourselves in conversation with history–different from the stance of a passive spectator or even of an analytical historian? Filmmaker and archival researcher Irene Lusztig leads this personal tour through fifteen years of looking at, reflecting on, and making film work out of archival materials. She will share the viewing pleasures, poetics, ethics, responsibilities and the freedoms of being an artist in the archives. From Romanian propaganda films to 80s television and from medical training films to 70s feminist documentaries and material archives, Lusztig will explore what it means to be an empathetic witness to historical images and other ephemera, ultimately proposing a feminist politics of archival spectatorship.
Irene Lusztig is a filmmaker, visual artist, archival researcher, and amateur seamstress. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe, recuperate, and reanimate forgotten and neglected histories. Often beginning with rigorous research in archives, her work brings historical materials into conversation with the present day, inviting the viewer to explore historical spaces as a way of contemplating larger questions of politics, ideology, and the production of personal, collective, and national memories. Born in England to Romanian parents, Irene grew up in Boston and has lived in France, Italy, Romania, China, and Russia. She received her BA in filmmaking and Chinese studies from Harvard and completed her MFA in film and video at Bard College. Her debut feature film, Reconstruction (2001) was recognized with a Boston Society of Film Critics Discovery award and won best documentary at the New England Film Festival. Her most recent feature-length film is The Motherhood Archives (2013), a feature length archival essay charting the history of the maternal education film from 1919 to the present. She is now working on Yours in Sisterhood, a performative, participatory documentary project based on archived letters sent to the editor of Ms. Magazine, 1972-1980.
Her work has been screened around the world, including at MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty NYC, IDFA Amsterdam, and on television in the US, Europe, and Taiwan. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, LEF Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Sustainable Arts Foundation and has been awarded fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Harvard’s Film Study Center. She is the 2016-17 recipient of a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship. She teaches filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz where she is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media; she lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
This program is a part of the ongoing What You Get is What You See series on spectatorship.
This presentation is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.
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