Posts Tagged ‘Chazen’

The most wonderful time of the year (a day early, too)

April 14, 2010

This morning I was slightly surprised to find that my DC column (a brief primer on the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival) was published a day early in order to coincide with the first day of the fest. Luckily, that suits me just fine, seeing as how I’m only planning to check out one film today myself (and what a film it promises to be).

For the sake of being comprehensive, I should also mention that tonight Bradley Rust Gray’s “The Exploding Girl” will screen at 7:30 at the Chazen, Jessica Hausner’s “Lourdes” will screen at 7:15 at the Orpheum’s Stage Door Theater, Don Argott’s “The Art of the Steal” will screen at 7 at the MMoCA and Radu Jude’s “The Happiest Girl in the World” (which I wrote about last month when it screened at the Romanian Film Festival) will screen at 9:15 at the MMoCA; if the press these flicks respectively received is any indication, all four deserve a look. Opening night, opening night…

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Plasticity and the plastic arts?

March 10, 2010

Not sure whether there’s a correlation between “blah” weather and continental philosophy, but the French philosopher Catherine Malabou is giving a talk tonight at the Chazen Museum of Art. Her lecture, entitled “Is Plasticity a New Name for Freedom?”, begins at 7:30 and promises to be very interesting. Here’s the abstract from the Center for the Humanities’ website:

The most recent research in biology aims at putting into question the concept of genetic programming. Today, epigenetics tends to be more important than genetics itself. Three main discoveries explain this shift: the discovery of interfering RNA; the discovery of stem cells; and the discovery of neural plasticity. In this lecture, philosopher Catherine Malabou focuses on plasticity, which explains that our brain develops itself for the most part after birth and is modeled by experience, education, and learning. Malabou considers how the discovery of neural plasticity challenges philosophical and political conventions, in particular the belief that philosophy and technoscience are opposed. She explores what happens to a politics of emancipation and resistance when science no longer is the name of the enemy, and asks what is the future of philosophy in an era of plasticity and epigentics.

I know only a little about Malabou and her philosophical project, but her points of reference include deconstruction (she studied under and co-authored a book with the late Jacques Derrida), Hegel, psychoanalysis, feminism and contemporary neuroscience (neuroplasticity in particular). Perhaps Malabou’s philosophy can serve to unite the science and liberal arts crowds, if only for just one night of intellectual labor (listening to these types of lectures can often be just as much if not more work than writing).

Moreover, I’m interested to see what, if anything, she says about the arts (seeing as how she’ll be lecturing in the basement of an art museum). Depending on how frisky I’m feelin’, I might even try to ask her a question about cinema and the philosophical/political implications of its material effects upon the brain.

In addition, the renowned neurologist V.S. Ramachandran is this week’s speaker in WUD’s Distinguished Lecture Series; his talk tonight at Memorial Union also begins at 7:30. Some friends of mine are pretty excited about Ramachandran’s visit, and for good reason: As evidenced by this set of his TED lectures, he’s both a brilliant scientist and a genuine wit.

If you’re interested in brains, you can’t go wrong with the public lectures on campus tonight.

“An Evening with Dave Eggers” tonight at the Chazen

November 4, 2009

Just a friendly reminder for those of you who ain’t know: Super well-regarded writer/publisher Dave Eggers will be in Madison tonight to give a talk at the Chazen; he’ll be accompanied by Valentino Achak Deng, the Sudanese refugee who was the inspiration for and is the main character of Eggers’ novel What Is the What. You’d go to see Dostoevsky give a lecture accompanied by Raskolnikov, or Joyce accompanied by Stephen Dedalus, or Nabokov accompanied by Humbert Humbert, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend, but if you give any sort of a damn about contemporary American literature, you probably want to be in attendance for this one. The event begins at 7:30PM. (And yes, admission is a highly reasonable $0.00.)

M.I.A.: the MMoCA and the Chazen

August 6, 2009

It’s pretty difficult to make the case that Madison’s a hell of a city for cinema in August: the Cinematheque’s on hiatus until Fall, and the Memorial Union doesn’t really have anything cinematic going on except for Lakeside Cinema on Monday nights (next up: The Matrix…). Now would be a perfect time for the MMoCA or the Chazen to step in and fill the void with interesting screenings for those of us who can only handle watching so many films on TV or, dare I say it, on our laptops.  Well, about that… the MMoCA hasn’t had any screenings since its four-night “Rooftop Cinema” series in June, and the Chazen hasn’t shown a film, as far as I can tell, since the Wisconsin Film Festival in April.

This is unforgivable. As I found out during the Wisconsin Film Festival, both the Chazen and the MMoCA have outstanding theaters, possibly the best in Madison. The Chazen’s theater, located in the building’s basement, is a lecture hall for UW’s Art History department; it’s very spacious, the seating is on a perfectly steep incline, and the screen is gigantic. I saw two films at the MMoCA during the Wisconsin Film Festival, both of which were terrific (Stroszek and Our Beloved Month of August). I also seem to recall that the MMoCA screened the Dardennes’ L’Enfant at some point last Spring.

The point is that it’s not unprecedented for these two museums to show challenging, worthwhile films; so why not now? A series of self-consciously “arty” films running in the Chazen’s basement theater would be a welcome alternative to the often less-than-thrilling selection of films being shown at the Union. Alas, it’s almost certainly too late for anything to be done about it this summer, and so we’ll have to content ourselves with waiting for the Cinematheque to announce its Fall schedule, renting DVDs, and catching the occasional matinee. What a shame.