Martine Syms, Memory Palace, 2015, 2 min., 6 sec.
In Memory Palace, Martine Syms and her collaborator, filmmaker Kahlil Joseph, center the house as the vessel for physical artifacts and the nexus of memory. Syms’s aunt had been the proprietress of a boarding house in Los Angeles, and when the house was sold, the artist recovered the trove of photographs and objects that traced its deep ties to her family and the impression it left upon Syms. Memory Palace interrogates the notion of the home as the archive, incorporating Syms’s personal history and a larger body of found material as the narrative figure, singer and songwriter Alice Smith, moves through the city landscape of Los Angeles.
Blondell Cummings, Chicken Soup, 1981, 16 min., 3 sec.
Blondell Cummings drew on her childhood memories of her grandmother to choreograph this piece, in which she imbues the domestic tasks of carrying shopping bags, scrubbing floors, and cooking food in a frying pan with careful intention. Peppering dissonant, convulsive movements into the acts of seeming realism in the dance, Cummings both celebrates the often-gendered work of the home and acknowledges its psychological impact on those who must perform it.
Suzanne Lacy, Dinner at Jane's, 2000, 52 min., 19 sec.
In 1889 Jane Addams, along with Ellen Gates Starr, founded the social settlement Hull House, providing a site for a diverse body of immigrants to access art and literary educations and develop technical skills in the Near West Side of Chicago. A century later, Suzanne Lacy gathered an international group of 14 women in Hull House to partake in the community-building ritual of a shared meal while discussing the condition of women around the world and their potential futures, a conversation that remains relevant and pressing in the contemporary moment.