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Three Channel Video: (Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message from the Future, 2017

(Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message from the Future
Three-channel video, 2017
Duration 13:42 min

How to imagine a future America when you are thirteen in what feels like a rather uncertain time? How are our desires and fears marked by the reality of today? How to give shape to these future imaginations through performative actions? Referencing Lygia Pape’s performance ‘Divisor’ and Simone Forti’s ‘Huddle’ the students create a sensorial cartography of the future, of the individual and the collective. They wrote a manifesto, embody the future creative work force, planted flags devised from silver emergency blankets in the neighborhood, took over the streets moving as one collective body and created a large-scale ‘monument of the future’ in public space in response to the Charlotteville protests. Collectively they imagined how we could move forward as a nation comprised of a multitude of histories and identities, like the group itself.


Director / Editor: Kirsten Leenaars
Assistant Director: Zachary Hutchinson
Camera: Ellie Hall and Paul deuth
Sound: Brent Walquist
Composer: Paul Deuth

Performers: Alanis Aranda-Salgado, Iman Fatmi, Hannah Plevin, Grace Elaine Ohlendorf,
Elsa Grace Berner, Javon Amin Barker, Coen T. Kriofske Mainella, Vittoria Lucchesi, Ju Hta Paw, Paw Htoo Boe, Paw Boe Say, Rahma Mohamed, Amina Mohammed, Nur Begum, Yusof Begum, Isa Begum, Rokimah Begum, Malachi Moore, Matthew Moore, Kaylin Dillard, Hamilton Reinbold, Jordan Muhammed, Wayan Muhammed, Awais Ali, Nurtho Ali

Video Interviews: The Shape of Things (Come Tomorrow), 2017

The Shape of Things (Come Tomorrow)
Video, 2017
Duration 15:58 min

Video interviews, part of (Re)Housing the American Dream:A Message from the Future
The participants talk about their future selves, a future America and the future of the world – while reflecting back on our times today.
What does it mean to be a human being?
What does it mean to be of my culture?
What does it mean to live in the place I do?
What does it mean to have a voice?
What does it mean to be an American?

Director: Kirsten Leenaars
Camera: Paul Deuth
Sound: Brent Walquist
Editing: Ellie Hall

Dangerous Professors

IMG_7499Typographies of Hope (April 7, 2017, NY Times), 2017

Saturday May 13, 6 PM – 9 PM

Triumph, 2055 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60608

The Dangerous Professors, a curatorial project exhibiting over one hundred and fifty artists–educators, acts as a counter-action to the pervasive rightwing impulse whose spirit jeopardizes civil, artistic and academic freedom by calling out, shaming, and harming those it opposes. The exhibition responds by first inviting artists who define themselves as educators to participate, the result of which creates a list of art-educators that can be deemed, in the current political climate, as dangerous. Second, the exhibition portrays the spectrum of art done by the presumably “dangerous” educators, and has the potential to become “dangerous art.” Third, the exhibition will provide a publication that voices the individual concerns of the artists-educators participating in the show. The text will structure a platform for public dialogue that furthers the development of strategies toward radical education.
Public event for the release of The Dangerous Professors Publication: Thursday, May 25, 6pm to 10pm

Curator: Ruslana Lichtzier

Standards Variance

how are you feeling America, 2017

Friday May 12, 6 PM – 9 PM  

Public Access, 3306 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Exhibition continues until June 10th, 2017. Gallery open hours on Saturdays from 12-6pm.
Standards Variance is a group show of speculative proposals around what is possible for urban space (empty lots, abandoned buildings, storefronts, green-space, etc.) in Chicago.

Julia Arredondo, Stella Brown, William Camargo & Yvette Mayorga, Monica Chadha & Carlo Parente, Raul De Lara, Angela Davis Fegan, Alejandro Jimenez Flores, Alfredo Garcia, Danny Giles & Sharmyn Cruz Rivera, Jaclyn Jacunski, Leo Kaplan, Morten Kvamme, Kirsten Leenaars, Ruslana Lichtzier, Fran Lightbound, Kelly Lloyd, Lora Lode, John Lusis, Jesse Malmed, Nicole Marroquin, Victoria Martinez, Gabriel Montero, Nuria Montiel, Josh Rios, Bailey Romaine, Luis Rodriguez Rosario, Edra Soto, Third Object (Ann Meisinger, Raven Falquez Munsell, Gan Uyeda), Selina Trepp, Rafael E. Vera, Lisa Vinebaum, Aaron Walker, and Latham Zearfoss.

Organized by Brandon Alvendia and Greg Ruffing.

“I’ve Got The Best Words”


Details wall drawing (20x12ft)  “I’ve Got The Best Words”, 2016. Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central Street, Evanston

Based on linguistic research and google searches around the language and words used by both candidates in the upcoming elections this work addresses the notion of language as something elusive, fleeting, troubled, tainted and at times powerful, ultimately questioning word’s power to align themselves with authenticity and meaning. And when are words ever “just a few words”?

“Words matter when you run for president,” as Hillary Clinton reminded her opponent during the first presidential debate. Clinton was clearly admonishing Donald Trump for a season of off-the-cuff remarks and tweets which have been routinely misleading, false, hateful, derogatory, inflammatory, juvenile, and—most recently—“lewd.” Trump’s counter, at once boastful and inscrutable, is that he has “the best words.”

For example Trump used most first person singular pronouns (I, me, my) while Clinton was more likely to use first person plural pronouns (we, us). Trump used twice as many empty words (e.g. anybody, everybody, nothing, thing) as Clinton.

“I’ve Got the Best Words” traces the meaning and meaninglessness of the language in political campaigns and its fleetingness. Layers and layers of words staining and smudging each other, signifying and obscuring, erasing and inscribing.

For more info on the exhibition: m/events/1158744114206685/?act ive_tab=discussion

Three Channel Video: (Re)Housing the American Dream, 2016

(Re)housing the American Dream, 2016
13:24 min

During a 13-day video shoot personal histories and experiences from the participating middle school students served as metaphors to explore the real and imagined reality of the American Dream. The video raises questions about the notions of home, belonging and happiness in context of the American Dream. Delving into the complex notions of place, person, community, family, country, origin, land, or a moment of time as a site of identification, with being a person. The video ponders the enduring question of what it means to be human and how this has become inextricably from the question who we are to each other? How is the American Dream both an individual and collective dream? These young residents of Milwaukee imagined and (re)envisioned the American Dream and what is most required to allow this dream unfold.

Director: Kirsten Leenaars
Assistant Director: Lindsey Barlag Thornton
Camera: Ellie Hall and Nick Drew
Sound: Mathew Jinks and Paul Deuth
Composer: Paul Deuth
Editor: Kirsten Leenaars

Participants: Alanis Aranda-Salgado, Iman Fatmi, Hannah Plevin, Grace Elaine Ohlendorf,
Elsa Grace Berner, Javon Amin Barker, Coen T. Kriofske Mainella, Infinity Hopkins, Vittoria Patricia Lucchesi, Ju Hta Paw, Paw Htoo Boe, Paw Boe Say, Rahma Mohamed, Amina Mohammed, Nur Begum, Muhammad Yusof Begum, Mahmud Isa Begum, Rokimah Begum.