Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

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 TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The Homestead Artist with a Worldwide Reputation

Jesse Best maintains a presence in New York and Tokyo. But, he says, Pittsburgh has been 10 times better to him than any other place.

The 400-Word Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The fifth "Jurassic Park" film is fun. Empty, somewhat disappointing fun.

Local Brewery Resolves Trademark Dispute With Sass

After Pitt ordered Voodoo Brewery to stop production of its "H2P American IPA," the company relaunched the beer under a new name.

Sprout Fund Passes the Torch

50 Pittsburghers to receive $1,000 Legacy Award to carry on the nonprofit’s vision.

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault has Pretty Good Pipes Too

The Pirates reliever sang the national anthem Tuesday night before the Bucs hosted the Brewers at PNC Park. It's worth watching, especially for his teammates' reaction at the end.

Crime in the South Side Has Fallen Dramatically

Illegal activity plunged along East Carson Street following several new security measures.

Fired by City Paper — Charlie Deitch Won’t Be Silenced

The former editor of the Pittsburgh alt-weekly is creating his own "more inclusive" publication.

Czechoslovakia was Forged in Pittsburgh

Rick Sebak details how the establishment of the European nation began with a meeting Downtown.

Brick by Brick: Legos Go High Art

Made entirely out of Legos, the sculptures on the display at the Carnegie Science Center’s new Scaife Exhibit Gallery range from the whimsical to the otherworldly.

Mike Chen, Dean of the Chinese Kitchen

The owner of Everyday Noodles looks to encourage more regionally specific Chinese food in Pittsburgh restaurants.

MultiStories: Real Estate – The Machesney Building

Visitors can still ogle the lavish marble and bronze interior crafted to appeal to the original owner's banker and stockbroker tenants.

The Other Moving Documentary About a Curious Pittsburgher

In "Will Work For Views," the video artist and musician Weird Paul is a little bit Dr. Demento and a little bit Mister Rogers.

Pittsburgh Might Mow Your Lawn for Free

The city is launching a free grass cutting service for the elderly, disabled and veterans.

PPG Paints Unveils 2019 Color of the Year: Night Watch

Paying homage to the restorative power of nature, this deep green shade is one to watch in the coming year. Here’s how to use it on your walls.