Baron Batch Faces Identity for CMU International Film Festival

The Pittsburgh artist and entrepreneur’s public art display is making its rounds on Carnegie Mellon’s campus.




photos by kim rooney

 

On February 12, a new face arrived on Carnegie Mellon’s campus. With mirrors for eyes and galaxies for skin, it sat in the Cohon University Center, waiting for passersby to pause and consider its presence. Out in the open, it invited viewers to step up and follow the colorful, taut strings that cross its face, examine their reflection in its eyes and walk around to see its take on identity.

Since then, it has moved to Hunt Library and the College of Fine Arts Great Hall, all part of Carnegie Mellon’s 2017 International Film Festival (IFF). Baron Batch created it to help raise awareness for the festival, offering an embodiment of this year’s theme, “Faces of Identity.”

The festival will begin Thursday, March 23 with a showing of Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. Events stretch over the next two and a half weeks, culminating with Nele Wohlatz’s El Futuro Perfecto on Sunday, April 9. The theme is intentionally broad, allowing the inclusion of a wide variety of films and opening up conversations about how identity intertwines with each film.
 


 

Entering its 11th year, the IFF wanted to advertise in a new, interactive, and thoughtful way. They reached out to Batch in December, and after considering the theme, Batch decided that “identity is a certain amount of the unknown,” as he said during a March 3 press conference introducing the piece. Conceived on a coffee cup, the art piece is made of wood, nails, string, candle lids, and spray paint, combined to give viewers a medium through which to contemplate that unknown.

The candle lids were the first parts found after the initial idea, and the rest of the piece was built around them. The silvery reflective surfaces allow viewers to examine themselves, creating a visual double entendre of Batch’s belief, expressed during March 3 event, that “how you respond to what you see is a reflection of you.” For Batch, mirrors reveal what people believe, giving people a way to make sense of the chaos around them and form their identities.

The CMU IFF began in 2006 as a promotion of cultural exchange and expression that also encourages cultural entertainment. It wants students to explore and be visionary, and it aims to give them the tools for thinking in ways they wouldn’t think in the everyday.
 


 

However, the festival also aims to reach out to the broader public, offering a non-academic bridge for the community to explore interests and themes across cultures. Screenings are accompanied by supplementary Q&A sessions with the films’ directors and local academics, artistic performances and receptions with local ethnic cuisine to lend structure to this exploration.

The 2017 film selections come from all corners of the world, including France, Poland, China, Brazil, Peru, Israel, Palestine and Mongolia. The films encourage thoughtful conversations about race, sexuality, gender and ethnicity in a time when identity is so closely intertwined with the individual and the pursuit of universal tolerance.

Batch’s alignment with the IFF’s mission makes him a fitting collaborator, and his art has helped people across the city engage in the reflection that the IFF wants to further. He places his art in public to disrupt the everyday, breaking up the numbing routine to make viewers more attentive to themselves and their surroundings. The open access is part of Batch’s philosophy that art should be free, not only in terms of its unlimited forms but also as an accessible medium.

His piece will be on display on CMU’s campus in the Cohon University Center until March 20; from March 20 to March 23, it will reside in CMU’s Hunt Library. As part of the film festival, Batch will take part in an exclusive event on Friday, March 31 that will feature what Batch calls a “question teaser” as well as a Q&A session with The Artist. Tickets for the event, as well as the full list of films, are available online.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

More From The 412

Steeler Safety's Pump Up Penguins Videos Are Must See

Steeler Safety's Pump Up Penguins Videos Are Must See

Ross Ventrone's hilarious videos are proof that he's an avid Pens fan (and that he should keep his day job).
Pittsburgh Council Chews on Bill to Ease Food Truck Restrictions

Pittsburgh Council Chews on Bill to Ease Food Truck Restrictions

Dan Gilman’s proposal could also have a big impact on underserved communities.
Heinz Releases a ‘Wiener Stampede’ on The Super Bowl

Heinz Releases a ‘Wiener Stampede’ on The Super Bowl

Dozens of dachshunds wearing hot dog costumes star in what may be the cutest commercial this year.
Naming Pittsburgh Airport for Fred Rogers is Not Going to Fly

Naming Pittsburgh Airport for Fred Rogers is Not Going to Fly

More than 11,000 people (and counting) have signed a petition to change the name of Pittsburgh International Airport in honor of Mister Rogers.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Can You Really Learn CPR in Pittsburgh in Five Minutes?

Can You Really Learn CPR in Pittsburgh in Five Minutes?

We put two of our interns to the test at the Carnegie Science Center.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


Condado Brings the Build-Your-Own Model to Tacos

Condado Brings the Build-Your-Own Model to Tacos

At the new Downtown taco-and-cocktail joint, you can get anything you like atop your tortilla shell — but can your creation stack up to nearby alternatives?

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

The just-completed, pivotal 10-game stretch began and ended the same way for the Pittsburgh Pirates –– with no one having an answer for the faltering bullpen.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Brewing Up Romance: A Couple Comes Together over Beer

Brewing Up Romance: A Couple Comes Together over Beer

See how this couple used their love of beer and breweries to create their special moments.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
New! Black Cherry Design Opens Retail Store

New! Black Cherry Design Opens Retail Store

Lauren Piasecki and Stan Adamik’s brick-and-mortar lifestyle boutique in Lawrenceville carries high-end furniture, lighting, new upholstery, candles, vintage goods and more.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments