Christopher Harris: Screening and Talk

 Mar 20, 2024, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
 Logan Center for the Arts, Screening Room (201

915 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

In Christopher Harris’s first autobiographical work, God Bless the Child, Harris reinterprets and reconfigures his own infancy and experience as a foster child through cinematic collage. Synthesizing photos, records, and other archival materials with 16mm film footage he recently shot in Senegal, Harris situates “the carcerality of the social welfare state and child services in relation to Black childhood in the US” within the broader context of the transatlantic slave trade and the French Catholic Church’s colonization of West Africa and the Americas. His hometown of St. Louis, MO, is presented as the fraternal, colonized twin of St. Louis, Senegal.

The archival materials, which trace Harris’s life from a newborn under the guardianship of the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of St. Louis, to his senior year of high school in a Catholic group home for boys run by Jesuit priests, will eventually be edited into an experimental essay film, hybridizing his personal archive with footage that he will soon be shooting in his hometown and in Paris. 

This presentation will include & encourage open conversation with the audience, and a post-show Q&A. 

About Christopher Harris
Christopher Harris makes films and installations that read African American historiography through the poetics and aesthetics of experimental cinema.  He employs a variety of technical and formal approaches in his work including manually and photo-chemically altered appropriated moving images, staged re-enactments of archival artifacts, interrogations of documentary conventions, hand-cranked cameras, rear-projection, optical printing, and hand processing with high-contrast black-and-white film stock, solarization, shots of extreme duration, and screen captured video. His influences and inspirations, which vary from film to film, range from Black literature, all forms of Black music, and various strains of mid-century avant-garde film. 

This presentation is part of Christopher Harris's Gray Center Mellon Collaborative Fellowship titled "Experimental Cinema and Speculative Approaches to the Archive and Media Histories" with the UChicago Department of Cinema and Media Studies Faculty Allyson Nadia Field. This event is made possible by the generous co-sponsorship of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, Chicago Studies, the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity, and the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality, and the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago.