BJ Allen and Ahmed Hamad Videos Curated into EXPO Chicago at Navy Pier

A still from Allen’s “Here Not Here, There Not There.”

Videos by BJ Allen, a second year InterArts media student, and by Ahmed Hamad, a 2014 media alumni, were selected to be in the 2014 EXPO Chicago, and international exposition of contemporary and modern art. Presented in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall in viewing stations designed by Studio Gang Architects and curated by Astria Suparak, the work will be shown as part of EXPO VIDEO program.

Allen’s video, Here Not Here, There Not There, is a first person narrative, combining text, footage shot with a GoPro camera in Chicago and nearby woods, and sound recording from her childhood. Says Allen, “the video shows the struggle to reconcile the repeating, schizophrenic thoughts and emotions of loss. This is one of those times when work just jumped out of me whether I wanted it to or not, and I still have a hard time viewing it. At the same time, I am really excited to see it get out into the world at the EXPO.”

Hamad, who was raised in Gaza, says, “sometimes what you dedicate years of time building might get destroyed overnight as if it never existed. This film is made of siege; its about the moment when something is no longer yours and what that means. Its about resilience and maintaining the will to live. I grew up in Gaza around concepts of dignity and freedom in a resilient house that refused the gun culture. My father always said, ‘If they demolish a tree, plant ten.’”

I Left Gaza, But Gaza Never Left Me, Hamad’s work, “is an effort to visually speak of experiences I have trouble verbally addressing due to language barriers. I animated a geometric visual sequence to speak of what is now a mental siege that is left in me from years of living in Gaza, the world largest open air prison. Since I was brought up to expect the worst, I thought I’d rather destroy what I have built in a film myself than watch it being destroyed by someone else. I created characters to destroy other characters to illustrate real stories that took place in Gaza.”

The Chicago EXPO runs from September 18–21 at the Navy Pier, and Allen and Hamad’s videos will be running at a viewing station throughout the event.