Can’t Stand The Midwest /
The Midwest Can Be Alright
Programmed by Aaron Walker
Poster by Platform
“The sins of the Midwest: flatness, emptiness, a necessary acceptance of the familiar. Where is the romance in being buried alive? In growing old?”
Stewart O’Nan, Songs for the Missing
“A lot of people see it as a kind of failure to stay in the place where you’re from, especially if you’re from the Midwest. Like ambition is geographic.”
Leah Stewart, The History of Us
Can't Stand The Midwest / The Midwest Can Be Alright is a two volume shorts program that considers the relationship between cultural production and place, specifically within the geographic boundaries of the Midwest. Conceptualizing the screening as a 7-inch single, in which our A and B sides are the appropriately dialectic 70’s Hoosier punk anthems “Can’t Stand The Midwest” by Dow Jones & The Industrials and “The Midwest Can Be Alright” by the Gizmos, the works assembled here consider Midwestern aesthetics from the inside out, mulling on the braided sense of possibility and frustration that, for many, comes with putting down roots in the region.
The program embraces notions of regionalism, not necessarily as a signifier of the parochial or provincial, but rather as a means of describing how artistic communities are formed, informed, maintained, defined and abandoned. Subjects given their due include: the underlying psychedelia of Bible Belt truck stops, the spurious aims of urban planning and psychological effects of segregation, corn cob architecture, post-Fordist bricolage, a Chicago River boat tour haunted by the specter of the European refugee crises, and the illumination of avant-garde holdouts in the suburbs.
Can’t Stand The Midwest / The Midwest Can Be Alright features works cultivated in experimental arts communities throughout the region, highlighting the practices of artists hailing from various corners, sides and middles of Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.
Mike Gibisser, Travel Stop, 2017, 16mm, 18:00
Barry and Todd Kimm, Pronounce It Hard, 1992, 16mm transfer, 11:00
David Robbins, Public Service Announcement (Avant Garde Suburb), 2014, 1:39
Cecelia Condit, Possibly In Michigan, 1983, 12:00
Emily Drummer, Histories of Simulated Intimacy No. 1, 2017, 8mm to HD, 11:00
Ian Curry, Fantasy On The Bun, 2014, 16mm double projection, 7:20
Blair Bogin, Venus In Taurus, 2014, HD, 2:00
Kenji Kanesaka, Super Up, 1966, 16mm to HD, 12:00
Ben Balcom, Speculations, 2017, 16mm to HD, 18:00
C. Spencer Yeh, Hair Police Live July 4th 2002, 2002, HD, 13:00
Curtis Miller, Do It Again, 2018, 16mm transfer, 8:30
Christopher Harris, Distant Shores, 2016, 16mm to HD, 3:00
Julia Yezbick, How To Rust, 2016, HD, 25:00
A special thanks to Todd Kimm, Chicago Film Archives, Video Data Bank, EAI, and Platform Studio for their contributions, support, and generosity.