July 18, 2018

Chicago Film Archives has been awarded National Film Preservation Foundation funding for the photochemical preservation of two titles in our collections: Kenji Kanesaka’s Super Up (1968) and Robert Stiegler’s Capitulation (1965). Both films are conceptually and technically innovative explorations of the urban landscape of the city of Chicago and blend narrative, documentary, and experimental forms of practice. Super Up and Capitulation are historically important examples of the blend of experimental and observational documentary filmmaking that was unique to Chicago in the mid-century. While extremely different in tone and approach, both films represent a very personal and poetic experience of everyday life in the city. Both Stiegler and Kanesaka were better known for their photographic work than their films. The preservation of these two films will shine new light on their individual artistic practices, and help reframe them as important and influential figures in Chicago in the late 1960s.



July 17, 2018
Curated by Karianne Fiorini and Michelle Puetz
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park Chicago

The US premiere of Chicago Film Archives' International Media Mixer project took place on July 17 as part of the 2018 Millennium Park Summer Film Series produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The project has been CFA's most ambitious to date, and it was fantastic to share the results to thousands of people in such a stunning venue. The four new pieces premiered with live performances by musicians Alex Inglizian (US), Patrizia Oliva (IT), Tomeka Reid (US), and Stefano Urkuma De Santis (IT). Read more about the project and the Italian premiere event here and more about each of the artists here.

Never a Lovely So Real: Photography & Film in Chicago, 1950-1980

May – October 2018
Curated by Michal Raz-Russo
The Art Institute of Chicago

Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950-1980 highlights the work of artists who, through their images and films, captured the life of their own communities or those to which they were granted intimate access as outsiders. Featured among them is a network of photographers who focused on Chicago’s South Side during a period coinciding with the emergence of the city’s Black Arts Movement. Five films from the Chicago Film Archives’ collections are included in the exhibition: Ricky and Rocky (Tom Palazzolo, 1972); The Corner (Robert Ford, 1962); Super Up  (Kenji Kanesaka, 1966); Nightsong (Don Klugman, 1964); and Cause Without A Rebel (Peter Kuttner, 1965).

International Media Mixer—City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

May 2018
Curated by Karianne Fiorini and Michelle Puetz
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park Chicago

Chicago Film Archives is thrilled to announce the US premiere of the International Media Mixer, which will take place on July 17, 2018 as part of the Millennium Park Summer Film Series produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The project is our largest and most ambitious to date—involving nine artists working in Italy and the US—and has been almost two years in the making.

Funded by the MacArthur Foundation's International Connections fund, the International Media Mixer is a cross-cultural artistic exchange in which Italian artists were commissioned to make a new film using material from CFA's collections and Chicago-based artists using footage from a regional Italian archive, Lab80 film-Cinescatti. Each visual artist was paired with an audio artist from the other country, resulting in completely new collaborations and interpretations of historical material.

Designed to Be Seen: Art & Function

Recipient of 2018 Public Program Grant for Art Design Chicago
March 2018
Curated by Michelle Puetz

Chicago Film Archives will present a series of four public programs curated by Michelle Puetz as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s Art Design Chicago initiative. Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film presents—for the very first time—a series of screenings that reframe the history of cinema in Chicago through various lenses and modes of production. This four program series illuminates the diverse factors that have shaped the filmic landscape of the region from the mid-century through the 1970s. Programs will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center and the Chicago History Museum in the fall of 2018.


International Media Mixer—Italian Premiere at the Bergamo Film Meeting

March 2018
Bergamo, Italy

The International Media Mixera transnational exchange of archival material, creative energy, and artistic vision that resulted in the creation of four new commissioned video workspremiered in Italy on March 11, 2018. The exhibition was organized as part of the Bergamo Film Meeting Festival and took place in the Porta di Sant’Agostino, an arched passageway built in 1781 as an armed gate for the Venetian walls that surround Bergamo’s Cittá Alta. Curator Michelle Puetz and sound musicians Alex Inglizian and Tomeka Reid (joined by Nick Mazzarella) travelled from the US to Italy where they met their Italian collaborators for the performance.

Art on the Mart—Terra Art Design Chicago

February 2018

I am part of the first curatorial committee for Art on theMART, a permanent large-scale installation on the façade of theMART (formerly known as the Merchandise Mart), organized in conjunction with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Art on theMART is a unique digital art space, where both local and international works are freely accessible on display within a public social environment with no branding or sponsorships. Projections will feature a curated selection of custom and adapted digital content, unprecedented in both quality and scale. Stay tuned for more details about the first installation and opening celebration in the fall of 2018.



The Reflection in the Puddle is Mine—Art Basel Miami Beach

December 2017
Art Basel Miami Beach

Jim Dempsey (Corbett vs. Dempsey gallery) and Michelle Puetz co-curated a program of contemporary and archival work from the Chicago Film Archives’ collections that will was presented at SoundScape Park on the exterior of Frank Gehry’s New World Center.

William Blake & the Age of Aquarius

Curated by Stephen Eisenman in consultation with Corinne Granof
September 2017 – March 2018

Footage from Chicago Film Archives’s Film Group collection is included in the Block Museum of Art’s exhibition, William Blake and the Age of Aquarius, which explores the impact of British visionary poet and artist William Blake on a broad range of American artists in the post-World War II period. The exhibition considers how Blake’s art and ideas were absorbed and filtered through American visual artists from the end of the war through the 1960s. Blake’s protests against the conventions of his day were inspirational for many young Americans disillusioned by perceived cultural tendencies of social uniformity, materialism and consumerism, racial and gender discrimination, and environmental degradation. This generation sought in Blake a model of independence, imagination, and resistance to authority. The exhibition features American artists for whom Blake was an important inspiration and includes more than 130 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, films, and posters, as well as original Blake prints and illuminated books from collections throughout the United States.

To the Racy Brink

Curated by Mary Richardson and Lynne Warren
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
July – December 2017

Never-before-seen material from the MCA’s archives that I digitized as part of my work as the museum’s 2013-15 Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow is currently on view as part of the exhibition To the Racy Brink. The historical material on display in To the Racy Brink highlights some of the MCA’s daring early projects with emerging artists (many of whom later became household names), and advertising campaigns that encouraged Chicagoans to try something new. As part of the MCA’s mission to support experimental art and artists, the museum has introduced new artists through solo exhibitions. In the 1980s, the MCA’s Education Department began producing videos in conjunction with these solo exhibitions, showcasing and preserving the artists’ insights into their work and creative process in their own words. Interviews with artists including Lorna Simpson, and documentation of Chris Burden’s 1975 performance Doomed, are on display as part of the exhibition.

MCA Hearts Chicago

October 21-22, 2017

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the MCA’s founding, the museum is celebrating our city and the role contemporary museums play in fostering creative connections and communities with a weekend-long event. Enjoy free admission and join preeminent Chicago artists from a range of disciplines to pay homage to the past, celebrate the present, and pave the way for the future. On Sunday, the museum’s theater is taken over by documentaries about major artists in the MCA's collection and history, including Cindy Sherman, Chris Burden, and legendary local iconoclasts from the Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists. The program is curated by Michelle Puetz, Curator of Collections and Public Programs at the Chicago Film Archives and former Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow at the MCA Chicago, 2013–15.

Thoma Foundation 2017 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art

May 2017

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation has announced the winners and the selection committee of its 2017 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art. The recipients of this year’s award are Rudolf Frieling, who will receive $40,000 in the established arts writer category ($30,000 unrestricted, merit-based award + $10,000 project grant) and Ed Halter, who will receive $20,000 in the emerging arts writer category ($15,000 unrestricted, merit-based award + $5,000 project grant). The Arts Writing Awards selection committee was comprised of three well-respected arts professionals with extensive knowledge in the field. This year’s selection committee included: Kathleen Forde, Artistic Director of Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; Michelle Kuo, Editor-in-Chief at Artforum; and Michelle Puetz, Curator of Collections and Public Programs at the Chicago Film Archives.

Fluxus | Film Symposium

May 5-6, 2017

I will be presenting new research on 1960s performance art and the use of the body as material as part of the Fluxus | Film symposium at the University of Chicago on May 6, 2017. A panel discussion with myself, Elise Archias (University of Illinois Chicago), Mark Siegel (Goethe University) and Soyoung Yoon (The New School), moderated by Mechtild Widrich (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) will follow the morning’s formal presentations.

Interview on BBC Persian with Hamid Naficy on Salaam Cinema! 50 Years of Iranian Movie Posters

November 2016

A BBC Persian interview with curators Hamid Naficy and Michelle Puetz on the Block Museum’s Salaam Cinema! 50 Years of Iranian Movie Posters exhibition. Naficy and Puetz describe the process of working with University Archives at Northwestern University Libraries to digitize and make accessible Naficy's collection of posters (digital scans can be seen here) and how the exhibition at the Block Museum of Art developed. Dating from the 1960s to the present, the posters in the collection document the social history of cinema in Iran and over half a century of dramatic political turmoil and change. The posters in Salaam Cinema! highlight the most prevalent filmfarsi genres, including pre-revolutionary melodramas and comedies that reinforce traditional values, cultural identity, gender stereotypes, and the Iranian star system. The exhibition also features posters from post-revolutionary, author-driven cinematic movements: dystopian new wave films that underscore the mounting paranoia, fear, and anger leading up to the 1978-79 Islamic revolution; nationalist films expressing the trauma of the Iran-Iraq War; films directed by and starring women that critically explore their representation on screen; and more contemporary art house films that examine post-revolutionary Iranian society.

“Transformations of Performance/Art in the Fluxus Decades and Beyond” at the Grey Art Gallery NYU

October 2016

I am in New York to see the Grey Art Gallery's installation of A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s and to attend the panel discussion, “Transformations of Performance/Art in the Fluxus Decades and Beyond” on October 24. Moderated by Julia Robinson, Associate Professor of Art History, NYU, with speakers Claire Bishop (Professor of Contemporary Art, Graduate Center, CUNY); Sabine Breitwieser (Director, Museum der Moderne Salzburg); Branden W. Joseph, (Frank Gallipoli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, Columbia University); and Midori Yoshimoto (Professor of Art History, New Jersey City University), the panel discussion will explore the efficacy of performance as a critique of conventional modes of artistic practice during the 1960s.

Opening celebration for Salaam Cinema! 50 Years of Iranian Movie Posters

October 5, 2016

Join the Block Museum of Art for a celebration of the exhibition Salaam Cinema! 50 Years of Iranian Movie Posters. The evening will feature a gallery talk by curators Michelle Puetz and Hamid Naficy, as well as a conversation and screening with “the father of Iranian animation,” Nouredeen Zarrinkelk.


ACRE Residency Visiting Artist

July 2016

I have been selected as one of this year’s Visiting Artists at the ACRE residency program. On July 26, I’ll be presenting an interactive performance on contemporary art and archival interventions titled “Reverberations of the Alien One.” Each year ACRE invites artists, curators and professionals from all over the country to contribute to the annual summer residency program. Visiting Artists are a vital component of the residency ecosystem, providing studio visits to resident artists and contributing to programming that takes place each residency session. I’m looking forward to a week of studio visits with ACRE’s resident artists!


Chicago International Film Festival Documentary Competition Jury

October 2016

Congratulations to award winners João Pedro Plácido and Song Zhantao! "Volta à Terra (João Pedro Plácido) is a film that interweaves aesthetic rigor with sensitive observation, agrarian portraiture with an investment in individual experience, that moved us by its intimacy with its subjects, an ambitious audio-visual presentation, and a dual sense of time-li-ness and time-less-ness. In the Underground (Song Zhantao) is a film that is both intensely experiential and emotionally insightful, and that manages to honor and explore both the underground terrain of labor and the aboveground human dramas of the domestic sphere." - The Documentary Competition Jury: Eric Hynes (Columnist for Film Comment), Michelle Puetz (Curator of Media Arts at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art), and J.P. Sniadecki (director of the award-winning film The Iron Ministry).