• Untitled (Cairo, IL)
    Lisa Malloy & J.P. Sniadecki

Lisa Malloy and J.P. Sniadecki, film still from Untitled (Cairo, IL Project), 2018, Cairo, Illinois. Courtesy of the artists.

Untitled (Cairo, IL Project) combines cinema of place, collaborative ethnography, and critical media practice to produce an experiential and multivocal portrait of the city, a former burgeoning empire at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, which once vied to be the nation’s capital before its decline. Now, following decades of racial violence, economic neglect, and urban decay, Cairo’s landscape—dotted with empty lots and abandoned homes—has been cast as a dying community by outsiders. The film traces the streets, levees, ports, projects, Victorian structures, local businesses, and family homes to discover a vibrant community of tremendous pride, significant history, and deep interconnections. Produced in intimate collaboration with local Cairoites, the film weaves together the indelible textures and rhythms of lived-experience in Cairo, rejecting the stigmatizing label of architectural blight. Instead the aesthetics of this unique life-world are embraced.

Lisa Malloy is a recent summa cum laude graduate of Cornell University with a focus in religion and film studies. While in Ithaca, she was involved in founding Fallen Tree Center for a Resilient Future, a community center dedicated to reclaiming “third landscapes” within suburban spaces as potential sources of sustainable food security, responsible resource use, and mindful living. She researches models for sustainable living while also working in multi-modal forms of research, including film and sonic ethnography. Through her artwork, she seeks to combine her commitment to spirituality with her interest in film as a devotional and ethnographic endeavor.

J.P. Sniadecki, assistant professor at Northwestern University, is an artist and anthropologist active in the United States and China. His award-winning films are in the permanent collections of the Museums of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco, and have screened at film festivals such as New York, Berlin, BFI London, AFI, the Viennale, Chicago, and Locarno, and at the Whitney Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, the Guggenheim, and the Institute for Contemporary Art in London. A 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, Sniadecki has been an invited artist at architectural exhibitions including the MAK in Vienna, the Copenhagen Architecture Festival, the Architecture Foundation in London, and the Shenzhen Center for Public Art, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, Artforum, Senses of Cinema, and more.