The Chill Ascends | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Chill Ascends

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Jim Seibert began making his haunting short The Chill Ascends as four separate films. The first intercuts the faces of a child and an older woman, gradually merging pictures of Seibert and his paternal grandmother and including vaguely frightening images of an upstairs corridor and a ball rolling on the floor. The second shows an installation another artist made for the Day of the Dead. With candles, flickering lights, and strange moving puppet figures, its shifting patterns are like a child's nightmare. In the third segment Seibert raises the stakes with hideous footage of corpses in a morgue. As the camera studies the cadavers with an almost fetishistic fascination--the dead bodies look like crumpled paper--we're reminded that we all decay in the end. Finally in the last part Seibert puts himself literally into the picture, filming his own nude body, mostly with a handheld camera. Seibert moves the camera over his body tentatively, almost as if he's never seen it before; this close attention to detail again seems to drain the life out of his flesh, reducing his skin to a mere surface, as if he too were a corpse. Seibert's deeply ambivalent attitude toward his body might be explained by the film's hidden subject: his memory of being sexually abused by his grandmother as a young boy. The film is being shown with short works by Matt Chernov, Janis Crystal Lipzin, Stan Brakhage, M.M. Serra, Mike Hoolboom, Barbara Hammer, and Ulrike Reichold. It's presented by X-Film Chicago. International Cinema Museum, 319 W. Erie, Wednesday, May 3, 7:00, 654-1426.

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