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What We Imagine in Its Absence / Part 3: Conversation with Vika Kirchenbauer and Caroline Key

What We Imagine in Its Absence / Part 3: Conversation with Vika Kirchenbauer and Caroline Key

L: Vika Kirchenbauer R: Caroline Key

The third and final part of the series will be a conversation between the two artists and filmmakers featured in the What We Imagine in Its Absence film series: Vika Kirchenbauer and Caroline Key, moderated by the series programmer Leeroy K. Y. Kang. 

This conversation was conceived of not as a formal Q&A, but as an open space of engagement between the artists and the programmer to pose questions and share reflections on the works together. The conversation was pre-recorded and has been edited for length.


In order to know something, must we be able to see it? If not, then how do we come to know what refuses visibility? What is imagined in what we cannot see?

This three-part program series explores these questions by engaging with the works of two artists and filmmakers Vika Kirchenbauer (Berlin) and Caroline Key (Brooklyn, NY). Within their respective practices, these artists meditate on conditions of alterity and constructions of otherness by exploring opacity as a mode of formal, conceptual, and aesthetic address.

Rather than prioritizing notions of transparency and the insistence of visual representation as a central means of capture, Kirchenbauer and Key instead call attention to the gaps, traces, and peripheries of the subjects within their works. Through utilizing forms of experimental non-fiction, essay, translation, and performance, the artists’ works in this series reflect on the conditions of medicalized, institutional, and state violence and its material and affective impacts on subjects marked by racialized, gendered, classed, and sexual difference. They allow us to consider what remains unknowable, invisible, or unremembered within the limitations of the image and its production, and by doing so, reveal what often lies in plain sight -- reorienting us to other registers of perception, speculation, and impossibility.

Programmed by Leeroy K. Y. Kang

Other programs in the series:

PART 1: Vika Kirchenbauer (May 13 - 16)

PART 2: Caroline Key (May 20 - 23)

Vika Kirchenbauer is an artist, writer and music producer based in Berlin. In her work she explores opacity in relation to representation of the ʻotheredʼ and discusses the role of emotions in contemporary art, labour and politics. With particular focus on affective subject formation, she examines violence as it attaches to different forms of visibility and invisibility, and considers the ways in which subjects are implicated in and situated within institutional power structures. Her work has been presented in a wide range of contexts including Whitechapel Gallery London, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Bonn Museum of Modern Art, ICA Artists’ Film Biennial, Kunsthal Charlottenborg Copenhagen, Donaufestival Krems, transmediale festival for art and digital culture, Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, CPH:DOX, Images Festival Toronto, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival, European Media Art Festival and Oberhausen International Short Film Festival. She has given lectures at institutions such as New York University, Goldsmiths University of London, Otis College of Art and Design Los Angeles, the Ruskin School of Art Oxford, the University of Copenhagen, the Berlin University of the Arts, the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and the Academy of Arts Kassel.

Caroline Key is a filmmaker and video installation artist currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Employing a range of cinematic practices- 16mm film, alchemical film processing, documentary, animation, and digital manipulation- her films and videos investigate the construction and negotiation of identities rooted in conditions of alterity. Her works have shown internationally in festivals and galleries, including the Arsenal Cinema in Berlin, the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, the Seoul Independent Film Festival, the Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and the Images Festival in Toronto. Caroline has received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Sarah Jacobsen Film Grant, and the NYSCA/ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. She received her MFA in Film/Video from the California Institute of the Arts, her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program. Caroline teaches filmmaking at Rutgers University.

Leeroy K. Y. Kang is an archivist, independent film programmer, and artist based in Los Angeles. His work is interested in the intersections of audiovisual preservation and access, experimental and non-fiction film and video, and in the ways difference is constructed within moving images. He has organized programs for various settings including film institutions, artist-centered organizations, universities, film festivals, and roaming experimental platforms. Previously, Leeroy was a Fellow at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar and a Visiting Scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, and has given lectures at The New School, NYU, and UC San Diego. He currently works at the Academy Film Archive and is a board member of Los Angeles Filmforum. His writing has appeared in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies.