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Archival Collective Counter-Imagination, Part 1: The Lonely Trees by Rojava Film Commune

March 27 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

CHRA is hosting a screening and discussion on Monday, March 27, 5pm, at Weis Cinema, as part of Archival Collective Counter–Imagination, a two-part program curated by art historian and current CHRA Fellow Lara Fresko Madra.

The event will include a screening of The Lonely Trees by the Rojava Film Commune [Komîna Fîlm a Rojava], with an introduction and discussion with Lara Fresko Madra and Thomas Keenan. The Lonely Trees (2017, 43 min) is a documentary about the “dengbej,” who carry the heritage of music, poetry, and storytelling in the semi-autonomous region of Rojava. 

Archives are often thought of in terms of possession belonging to a family, organization, or country. Calls for the decolonization of museums have been leading the charge in envisioning images, objects, and archives as traces of colonial dispossession. Brushing the archive against the grain, it is possible to listen to its absences. 

Archival Collective Counter–Imagination brings together two collective endeavors: The Rojava Film Commune based in northern Syria and the Material Aesthetic Research Collective from Turkey and its diasporas think through archives not only in who they belong to, but also how they generate a sense of belonging. In engaging the moving image as a site of negotiation and building collectivity these endeavors are concerned with how they create and re-create past and future community. This program explores the two group’s modes of social organization around the moving image that cross and, at times, defy the horizon of the nation-state. 

Komîna Fîlm a Rojava (The Rojava Film Commune) is a commune of filmmakers based in the eponymous autonomous region in northern Syria. Their work across the region builds and develops infrastructures for filmmaking, screening, and education, fostering new audiences and an awareness of filmmaking as a medium for empowerment and a tool for liberation. The commune’s creative output spans documentary and commercial films as well as public service announcements. 

Lara Fresko Madra holds a PhD in Art History from Cornell University. She comes from an interdisciplinary background with an MA in Comparative Literature from Istanbul Bilgi University and a BA in Cultural Studies from Sabancı University. Lara’s research focuses on contemporary artistic practices that challenge official history and offer alternative ways of relating to the past. Her dissertation, “Historiography and Heterochronic Imagination in Contemporary Art from Turkey (1990-present),” investigates the role of spectrality, speculative fiction, discursivity, photography, and the archive in the artistic practices of four female artists working in Turkey. Lara’s current research tackles the potentials of water as a formal metaphor and an elemental vessel to imagine non-linear and anti-hegemonic forms of historiography. She has worked as a researcher, curator, and writer.


March 27
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Weis Cinema, Bard College
30 Campus Rd, , NY
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504 United States
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