Marfa Dialogues


Mel Chin

2 February 2008

Lecture and exclusive film screening with
9-11/9-11, Chile/U.S.A
with a book signing of the film’s graphic novella
Goode Crowley Theater, Marfa
Free and open to the public

For Americans, “9-11” will forever register as the day the World Trade Center in New York was attacked by terrorists, killing over two and a half thousand people and irreparably altering the American psyche. This same date marks another tragedy for Chileans –- the bloody military coup of 1973 when General Augusto Pinochet ousted democratically elected President Salvador Allende, initiating a seventeen year dictatorship that ordered the deaths, disappearance and torture of thousands of its own people. Conceptual artist Mel Chin brings these two seemingly separate incidents together in his first animated film, 9-11/9-11, Chile/USA, a fiction that weaves the lives of a Santiago couple embroiled in the attack on Santiago 1973, with two young lovers in New York City, 2001.

9-11/9-11, Chile/USA is a collaboration between Mel Chin and a team of Chilean animators from Planovisual Estudio de Animación, Santiago. The animation stands apart from the popular computer generated animations of current times — the film is entirely hand drawn, with a sketchy quality that brings an air of history and personal storytelling to two major tragedies of political genesis. In many ways, 9-11/9-11, Chile/USA is Mel Chin’s 21st Century Disasters of War, a tale of horrific tragedy that resonates across time and place.

With his history of creating socially relevant art and interventions, Mel Chin’s response to the catastrophe in New York City emerged in the form of the graphic novella 9-11/9-11. Mel Chin printed and started distributing the novella throughout New York on the first anniversary of the fall of the twin towers portraying in pulp form the interwoven stories of love, hope, family, power and manipulation that would later come to life in the film. In spite of differences in cultural and political dynamics of the US and Chile, Mel Chin brings out the shared experiences of humanity dealing with the calamities of war.

9-11/9-11, Chile/USA premiered for Creative Time on the 2007 anniversary of 9-11, screening simultaneously in New York City and Santiago and was accompanied by a live simulcast Q&A between the artist, filmmakers and members of both audiences, folding Chin’s own artistic response back into the real life public arena. For Ballroom Marfa’s screening of 9-11/9-11, Chile/USA, the artist will present a lecture giving further context to the film, discussing his role as an artist in the current sociopolitical climate and will introduce some of his upcoming projects including one based in New Orleans. The evening will also include a book signing of the original graphic novella 9-11/9-11.

Mel Chin (b. 1951, Houston) has exhibited extensively across the United States and Europe, including solo exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 1989; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1990; the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas, 1991; Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, 1991; the Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1992; and the Station Museum, Houston, Texas, 2006. His proposal for a new World Trade Center was part of the American representation at the 2002 Venice Biennale of Architecture. He is the recipient of many awards and grants including: Joan Mitchell Award (1997), Rockefeller Foundation Grant (1996), Cal Arts/ Alpert Award (1995), a Pollock/Krasner Foundation Fellowship (1989), a Tiffany Foundation Award (1989), and several NEA Fellowships.

9-11/9-11, Chile/USA is co-produced by Mel Chin, American filmmaker Chip Schneider, and Chilean animators at Planovisual Estudio de Animación, Santiago. The voice cast includes American actress Lili Taylor and several well-known Chilean actors such as “Palta” Melendez, Sandro Larenas, and Rosario Zamora.

    Special thanks to Ann Harithas for making this event possible.