Give It or Leave It

Artist Cauleen Smith and film scholar Robert Bird (University of Chicago, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Cinema Media Studies) endeavor to unpack the revolutionary potential of filmic images. This project began with their work together on the Smart Museum's exhibition Revolution Every Day (September 17, 2017 - January 28, 2018), and will continue to develop through various forms, including their co-taught spring 2019 course.

With a particular focus on film making practices, "Give It or Leave It" emerged from the intersection of Bird's scholarly work on filmmakers associated with the early 20th century Communist Revolution in Russia (Vertov, Medvedkin) and Smith's work as an artist making films and videos with a particular interest in considering a humanity that isn't driven to derive meaning from the things it possesses. This collaboration has taken shape over the course of the past year through a public talk that occurred at an early stage, a piece commissioned from Smith for an exhibition co-curated by Bird that dealt with the Russian Revolution and its influence on cultural production, a research trip to Russia, a co-curated season of the Cinema 53 film series focussed on revolutionary films and films about revolution, and a co-taught studio/seminar course dealing with the overlaps between political revolutions and the practices and theories surrounding relevant films and videos.