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 ModuleShow Tags

More From The 412

Pittsburgh is Newest Market for Assembly-Line Pizza Chain

Pittsburgh is Newest Market for Assembly-Line Pizza Chain

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, banking on its relationship with LeBron James, is hoping to open 10 restaurants in the Pittsburgh area.
Pittsburgh's Tunnels to Become Cell-Phone Friendly Again

Pittsburgh's Tunnels to Become Cell-Phone Friendly Again

Local wireless carriers are working on plans to eliminate dropped calls inside Pittsburgh's three major tunnels.
Daya is Pittsburgh-Area's Newest Music Celebrity

Daya is Pittsburgh-Area's Newest Music Celebrity

The Mt. Lebanon teen's single "Hide Away" has more than 2 million views on YouTube and hit No. 24 on the pop songs chart.
Big Changes at One of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants

Big Changes at One of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants

With Bar Marco's executive chef leaving and one of the business partners moving on, our restaurant critic finds out what the future holds for this hotspot and its sister business.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

Pittsburgh could be well on its way to replicating one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

The Outdoor Recreation Club becomes the newest student organization at the college.

Comments