Disasters of Peace

  • Tales

    Tales of a Future Past (Cecelia Condit, 2017, USA)

Past Event

This event was on Thu 29 Nov 7pm

Major disasters seem to characterise our age: refugee crises, genocides of indigenous populations, Chernobyl and Fukushima, catastrophic hurricanes of increased intensity and the inexorable destruction of our habitable ecosystem. How can we represent these disasters to expose the slow  violence their aftermaths continue to enact? What languages can convey and transform the legacy  of recent histories  into  an alternate  view?

This international touring programme curated by Sam Jury and Kamila Kuc draws together artist filmmakers who challenge the prevalent representations of disaster, beyond the apparatus of spectacle. Featuring the work of Reed O’Beirne, Cecelia Condit and Richard Ashrowan, among others. The works presented respond to ideas of transformation and re- imagining of past and present and in so doing, raise questions about the shape of our future.

The above will be in conversation after the screening.


All attendees will receive a free copy of the last printed edition of independent, internationalist moving image magazine Vertigo, which comes with a DVD copy of Ken McMullen‘s acclaimed feature 1871.

Disasters of Peace, vol.6: Whitechapel Gallery, London

Dawn to Dust | Shubhangi Singh | 6’ | 2011 | India

Tales of a Future Past | Cecelia Condit | 8’ | 2017 | USA

Popehelm | Sam Jury & Sarah Goldstein | 15’ |2017 |  UK

Sky Room | Marianna Milhorat & Brian Kirkbride | 6’ | 2017 | USA

$O$ | Reed O’Beirne | 4’ | 2002 | USA

Gone is Syria, Gone | Jazra Khaleed | 7.5’ | 2016 | Greece

Paperbox | Zbigniew Czapla | 9’ | 2011 | Poland

Cubiculum Umbrae | Richard Ashrowan | 8’ | 2014 | Scotland

I Think You Should Come to America | Kamila Kuc | 21’ | 2017 | USA/UK/Poland


Dawn to Dust | Shubhangi Singh | 6’ | 2011 | India

This film examines the position of humanity in relation to environment and contemplates the impact of cyclical plundering of resources on the personal, as well as collective, human existence. Set amid an ethos of geo-political displacement, mass exodus, mindless invasions and lost resistance, Dawn to Dust  is intended as an elegy to the present – an elegy that laments the cataclysmic involvement of mankind in its own indiscriminate obliteration. Here, the work draws the viewer into a moment of collective mourning, an act of rebellion cloaked in communal suffering.

Tales of a Future Past | Cecelia Condit | 8’ | 2017 | USA

Part of a longer series of works exploring our symbiotic relationship with our environment and the species we share it with, this two-channel  video  presents  a  giraffe  and  a  zebra  who  fight over  an  undefined  baby  creature,  in  hopes  of  making  it  one  of their  own  kind.  Using  toy  masks and  a  sparse  theatricality,  Cecelia  Condit  creates  a  contemporary reflection  on  species  extinction  and  the  lonely,  silent  world  that  might  ensue  from  it.

Popehelm | Sam Jury | 15’ |2017 |  UK

Popehelm is a short film about a societal decline and its aftermath. Merging three distinct langUAGES, that of dystopic cinematic, the personal, poetic narrative, it employs an innovative use of voice to create atmospheric acoustics. Structurally, Popehelm maps a journey from a vast, empty, landscape to the intimate details of unused objects in abandoned interiors, accompanied by the monologues of three women that chart a more personal journey from loss to obsession. Ultimately, while Popehelm holds no definitive narrative, the texts, soundscape, and filming are shaped together to suggest not only the wake of unexplained calamity, but also the post-traumatic repetition of narratives that exist around such events.

Sky Room | Marianna Milhorat & Brian Kirkbride | 6’ | 2017 | USA

Someone  is  missing.  Plants  grow,  but  at  what  cost?  Technology  threatens  and  seduces  as  humans  attempt  to  solve  a  mystery  through  telepathy  and  mirrors.  Stainless  steel  and  broken  glass  strewn  about  an  intergalactic  discotheque.  Commissioned  by  the  Chicago  Film  Archives  and  made  in  collaboration  with  sound  artist  Brian  Kirkbride. Sky Room is a work formed from footage  and  sound  from  the  archive  chopped,  manipulated  and  arpeggiated  into  a  fertile  mix  of  anthem and narrative.

$O$ | Reed O’Beirne | 4’ | 2002 | USA

Though a debt of $206 million remained on the structure, the Seattle Kingdome was demolished by “implosion” on a cheery Sunday morning in March 2000. Over 50,000 tons of concrete and steel came crashing down causing the equivalent of a magnitude 2.3 earthquake. $O$ documents that morning through time lapse photography and other experimental film techniques. The destruction was the result of Referendum 48, a ballot initiative backed by $5 million in advertising (the most expensive ballot initiative campaign in Washington state history.) The theme for this ad campaign was “Save Our Seahawks” from which came the name for the film.

Gone is Syria, Gone | Jazra Khaleed | 7.5’ | 2016 | Greece

From Chechnya-born Greek poet Jazra Khaleed, Gone is Syria, gone is a delicate yet powerful visual lament on the recent Syrian refugee crisis. Here Syria is embodied female, and through the words of a narrator, recalls her memories in melodic Greek. Syria remembers body mutilations, shootings and various scenes of torture. She leaves her home because  ‘her body could not bear any more deaths.’ This gentle meditation on the contemporary world in crisis is made even more powerful by the filmmaker’s own experience of living in the country where there is ‘one grave for every thousand corpses, one shadow for every thousand survivors.’

Paperbox | Zbigniew Czapla | 9’ | 2011 | Poland

In May 2010, after record rainfall, catastrophic flooding in Poland deprived thousands of people of all their possessions as well as the roof over their heads. In his family house, ravaged by the deluge, the artist finds a box of old photographs – mementoes destroyed by water, mud and mold. What remained were the fragments of compositions, shreds of portraits and barely recognisable silhouettes. This work recreates the mournful and desperate attempt to preserve these disintegrating documents of memories, reconstruct the images of loved ones and significant events of the past. Ultimately, Paperbox is testament to the transitory nature of our material world and a meditation on memory touched by a disaster.

Cubiculum Umbrae | Richard Ashrowan | 8’ | 2014 | Scotland

Shot on 16mm, in Svalbard/Spitzbergen, Cubiculum Umbrae is a film that questions the impact  of cultural tourism in the high Arctic. Implicit is an argument about the inevitability of changing lifestyles, and the threat to ways of life in the arctic. At times claustrophobic, this haunting film also serves as a critique of surveillance in contemporary society, because even in the depths of the arctic we cannot  seem to escape the  mediated image.

I Think You Should Come to America | Kamila Kuc | 21’ | 2017 | USA/UK/Poland

In I Think You Should Come to America the correspondence between two young and naïve penfriends serves as a vehicle to explore the dangers of seeing cultures different from our own as ‘other’. Here a young Polish woman (Kuc herself), coming of age in the dying embers of Communist Poland, seeks escape in the re-imagined romance of the Native American life, through her correspondence with an incarcerated young Native American. Using only his letters to her, Kuc presents her pen-friend’s own need to escape, voiced to a montage of mostly archival footage, presenting multiple views of both Poland and America at pivotal points in their history. What results is a complex and often contradictory picture that is left to the viewer to disassemble.

About the Artists

Richard Ashrowan

Dr Richard Ashrowan is a moving image artist and film curator. He works with video and 16mm film, creating short single channel films, immersive video installations and live multi-projector performance experiments. His works are exhibited at artist-led spaces, galleries and film festivals around the world. He was awarded a PhD in 2016 (Edinburgh College of Art / Edinburgh University) for his practice-based research on ‘Alchemical Catoptrics of the Moving Image’. Since 2010, he has been Creative Director of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Scotland since 2010 and was curator for Scotland + Venice at the Venice Art Biennale 2017.


Cecelia Condit

Cecelia  Condit’s is an American artist filmmaker who work  puts  a  subversive  spin  on  the traditional  mythology  of  women  in  film  and  the  psychology  of  sexuality and  violence. Exploring  the  dark  side  of  female  subjectivity,  her “feminist  fairy  tales”  focus on friendships,  lovers,  mothers,  families,  old  age,  and  childhood.  Condit  has  received  awards  from  the Guggenheim  Foundation, American  Film  Institute, National  Endowment  for  the  Arts, among others.  Her  work  has shown  internationally  in festivals,  museums,  and  alternative  spaces  and  is  represented in  collections  including  the  Museum  of  Modern  Art  in  NYC  and  the  Centre  Georges Pompidou  Musée  National  d’Art  Moderne,  Paris and the  Carnegie  Museum  of Art, Pittsburgh,  PA.

Zbigniew Czapla

Zbigniew Czapla is a screenwriter,  director,  animator,  painter  and  graphic  artist.  He is a graduate  of the  Graphic  Arts Department  of  the  Academy  of  Fine  Arts  in  Krakow, Poland. Recent  screenings include Animator, Message to Man, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Krakow Film Festivals among many others.

Sam Jury and Sarah Goldstein

Sam Jury is an artist working with moving image and installation. Her work investigates the psychological impact of moving image and societal narratives of trauma. Recent projects include To Be Here (2012 – 16) a series of films, and film installations depicting the suspended trauma of mass displacement of Sahrawi refugees living in the Sahara Desert, commissioned by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, USA, and All Things Being Equal, video installation at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ireland.

Sarah Goldstein                             

Sarah Goldstein is a Canadian writer, poet and visual artist. Her work explores a tension between the known and the unknown. Ostensibly familiar, her writing gently unfolds to create a sense of unease as it is punctuated by moments of startling rawness. Goldstein is the author of Fables (Tarpaulin Sky, 2011) and her writing has appeared in Caketrain, DIAGRAM, Denver Quarterly, and Verse among others, and most recently in the anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence.

Jazra Khaleed

Jazra  Khaleed  is  an  Athens-based  poet,  translator,  editor  and  filmmaker.  His  works are protests  against  the  injustices  in  contemporary  Greece,  especially  the  growing xenophobia and  racism.  His  poems  have  been  widely  translated  for  publications  in  Europe,  the  US, Australia  and  Japan.  He  is  co-editor  of  the  poetry  magazine  “Teflon”,  which  publishes  cutting edge  literature  from  Greece  and  the  world.

Kamila  Kuc

Ph.D.,  MFA,  is  a  filmmaker,  writer  and  curator.  Her work is concerned with the impact of apparatuses on the creation of personal and collective memories as well as societal myths and narratives. Her  films  have  screened  worldwide:  Ann  Arbor  Film  Festival, Alchemy  Film  and  Moving  Image  Festival, Montreal Underground Film Festival. She  is  the  author  and  editor  of  numerous  sources  on  experimental  media,  most  recently,  Visions  of  Avant-Garde  Film  (Indiana  University  Press). For more details visit http://www.kamilakuc.com/

Marianna Milhorat and Brian Kirkbride

Marianna  Milhorat  is  a  Chicago-based  filmmaker  and  educator.  Working  in  film  and  video,  she  utilizes landscape  and  duration  to  disrupt and  transform  notions  of  space  and  perspective.  Her  work  has  screened internationally  at  festivals  and  galleries,  including  the  International  Film  Festival  Rotterdam,  Ann  Arbor  Film Festival,  Videonale,  and  the  Museum  of  Contemporary  Art Chicago.  She  has  received  awards  at  festivals including  the  Images  Festival,  EXIS,  and  the  Chicago  Underground Film  Festival.

Brian  Kirkbride

Brian  Kirkbride  is  a  musician,  sound  artist,  DJ  and  programmer  based  in  Chicago  whose  cross-disciplinary  practice  integrates  data,  field  recordings,  synthesizers  and sound  appropriated  from  records  and films  using  conceptually-driven  audio  processing.  Inspired  by  the  marvels  of  the  natural  world  and  the monstrosities  of  the  human  one,  his  work  has  generated  birdsong  from  photographs  of  ferns  and  drowned  post-World  War  II  travelogues  under  waves  of  over-driven  80s pop melodies.

Reed O’Beirne

Originally from Natchez Mississippi and now residing in the UK, Reed is a graduate of the creative writing program at Vanderbilt University, and founder of Emerald Reels, an organization dedicated to supporting artistic filmmaking.  His films have screened widely at film festivals and art events including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, AVIFF Cannes, and OCAT Shanghai.

Shubhangi Singh

Shubhangi Singh was  born in Mumbai, India. She is a filmmaker and visual artist living between Mumbai and Sydney. Her works includes documentaries, video poetry, public art projects, sound pieces, sketches and video installations. She is interested in archives, folktales and the vague blurring between facts and fictions in narratives.

About the Curators

Jury and Kuc began collaborating in 2016 through shared concerns around trauma and memory in their own filmmaking practices. Their interest in investigating and developing critical languages in which disaster is represented in mass media and moving image lead to the formation of the Disasters of Peace – a creative initiative, which incorporates research-led media production, writing and curating. Presented here is vol.6 of their curated programme, which had screened internationally (Experiments in Cinema, Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA; the Bienal de la Imagen Movimiento, Argentina) and included filmmakers such as Heba Amin, Lynne Marsh, Bryan Konefsky, among others. While continuously developing new iterations of the programme, Jury and Kuc are currently working on a body of film work in response to the loss of an archive in the de-facto state of Abkhazia – a project which is an outcome of an Artist Residency programme they completed in 2017. The result will be a collaborative multichannel sound and video work developed over 2019. More detail can be found here: www.disastersofpeace.com

About Vertigo

Vertigo, the moving image magazine, was founded 25 years ago and produced 30 issues between 1993-2009. Ranging across artists’ film and video, documentary, world cinema, new media and all points in between, it featured essays, reviews, features, portfolios, industry analysis and interviews with many of the world’s greatest film-makers. Engaged, collaborative and committed, it favoured independence, innovation and always imagination.