March 31, 2017, 4-5:30 pm at the Richard J. Daley Library (1-470) at UIC
"Liminal Femininity: Impossible Elegance and the Femme Archetype" Emily Esperanza’s Wretched Woman video series is an investigation into the depth and confines of female desire, sensuality/sexuality, morality, ritual, and variations of femme archetype. Manifested through a series of non-verbal video tableaus, Wretched Woman examines femme models/contradictions like ‘the kept woman’ and ‘the virgin/whore’, as well as gendered spaces, idealized femme physicality, quiet inconsistency, anxiety, voyeurism, and the gendered gaze. Referencing various cultural representations of femininity, as well as excerpts from Esperanza’s Wretched Woman series, we will approach femininity as a concept and aesthetic, a desired but abstract idea that may be emulated or lusted after, but never truly captured and maintained. A special viewing of Esperanza’s new film, Hail Mary (2017) will precede the lecture.
“…An original voice in a sea of mundane posers,” (Amy Davis, Terminal USA , PIG DEATH MACHINE ).
Emily Esperanza is a director, video artist, curator, and photographer currently living in Los Angeles, CA. Her recent video works investigate stillness, duration, atmosphere, and archetype, specifically relating to representations of femininity. Presented in a series of tableaus and two-channel videos, the works feature highly stylized sets and iconic locations, use of isolated and displaced sound, static and often very wide shots, and characters that exist simultaneously within and outside of time. Emily has worked on several projects around the world including Prague, CZ, Bali, ID, Oakland, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Santa Fe, NM, Chicago, IL, and Oaxaca, MX. She is currently working on her new short, 'Make Out Party', and is finishing her first feature titled, 'EL CULTO DE LA MUERTE (CULT OF THE DEAD)', shot in Oaxaca, MX and Chicago, IL. Emily is the founder and curator of WRETCHED NOBLES, an immersive monthly film/video series & shorts program. She is was a co-curator for Mediums, a Chicago-based monthly interdisciplinary art event, and helped start Sinema Obscura, a bi-weekly screening series hosted by Odd Obsession Movies & WRETCHED NOBLES. Emily is is the founder/head of the production company, NOWHERE FILMS.
April 1, 2017, 3:15-4:30 pm at the Institute for the Humanities (Stevenson Hall, lower level) at UIC
"Repairing Beauty" This talk considers humanitarian efforts including the Hiroshima Maidens and the Miss Landmine Pageant that presume to incorporate a nonnormate body whose injuries –both individual-somatic and collective-political— rendered them unavailable to beauty, and to other rights, given the contingencies of an idea of “being human.” Named here as a path for repair and rehabilitation, beauty proposes a solution to the attenuation of life in lived scenes of its purported absence because of injury, because of war. These campaigns, however limited in scope, presume to be an aesthetic reenactment of the impact of that absence on the everyday lives of those who feel it keenly as a condition of their precarity. In this talk in particular, I address the slogan from the Miss Landmine Pageant, “Everyone has the right to be beautiful,” in order to understand something about the construction of normative rights claims in the absence of a liberal state but in the presence of a liberal empire. What kind of subjects and political cultures does the right to be beautiful (bring into being, and what kinds does it preclude or aver? Is the right to be beautiful in part analogous to the right to have rights (after Arendt) as the recognition of the capacity for humanity, or is it distinct from it -- here, not as the precondition of claiming other rights, because the state is illiberal or insecure, but as the capacity for living on without them, then named itself beautiful?
Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first book, called The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages, focuses on the promise of “giving” freedom concurrent and contingent with waging war (Duke University Press, 2012; Outstanding Book Award in Cultural Studies from the Association of Asian American Studies, 2014). She is also co-editor with Fiona I.B. Ngo and Mariam Lam of a special issue of positionson Southeast Asian American Studies (20:3, Winter 2012), and co-editor with Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu of Alien Encounters: Pop Culture in Asian America (Duke University Press, 2007). Her following project is called The Promise of Beauty. She has also published in Signs, Camera Obscura, Women & Performance, positions, and Radical History Review. Nguyen was recently named a Conrad Humanities Scholar for 2013-2018, a designation supporting the work of outstanding associate professors in the humanities within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois. Nguyen has made zines since 1991, includingSlander (formerly known by other titles) and the compilation zine Race Riot. She is a former Punk Planet columnist and Maximumrocknroll volunteer. Her columns are archived at thread & circuits. She is also co-author of the (mostly retired) research blog on dress and beauty threadbared. In June 2013, Sarah McCarry's Guillotine ("a series of erratically published chapbooks focused on revolutionary non-fiction") released PUNK, a conversation between Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour. She toured with other zine makers of color in 2012 and 2013, and continues to organize events and shows with and for POC punks.