• I Believe in the Things You Cannot See
    Maria Gaspar
    Maria Gaspar

Maria Gaspar, Footage used for “I Believe in the Things You Cannot See,” 2021. Digital film still. Courtesy the artist

In her experimental film, I Believe in the Things You Cannot See, artist Maria Gaspar brings together collaborators and materials from over a decade of work investigating the spatial injustice wrought by the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDC). Located on Chicago’s West Side in Gaspar’s childhood neighborhood, the CCDC is the largest single-site pre-detention facility in the country, and detains 6,000 people daily, 90% of whom are Black and Latinx. Over the past ten years, Gaspar has engaged with detainees inside and system-impacted people outside this jail and others. For this film, Gaspar juxtaposes demolition footage she captured from inside and outside the compound and combines it with performances for video that reflect on touch, violence, and release. Working with formerly incarcerated collaborators, Gaspar seeks to make an abolition geography out of the rubble, detritus, and hauntings that mark the crisis that is mass incarceration in the United States.

Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses issues of spatial justice in order to amplify, mobilize, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Gaspar’s projects have been supported by the Art for Justice Fund, the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, the Creative Capital Award, and the Art Matters Foundation. Gaspar has received the United States Artists Fellowship, the Frieze Impact Prize, the Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award in Art and Activism from the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the Chamberlain Award for Social Practice from the Headlands Center for the Arts. Gaspar has exhibited extensively at venues including MoMA PS1, New York; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and the African American Museum, Philadelphia. She is associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, holds a master’s degree in studio arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

Collaborating artist Christopher Coleman is a maker and thinker, as well as a father, grandfather, and community caretaker. He was a contributor to a major public art project, Radioactive: Stories from Beyond the Wall that took place while incarcerated at the Cook County Department of Corrections. He is working on a series of writings about justice and restoration. He spends his time imagining a world without prisons.

Ben Kolak is a documentary cinematographer and director whose work has appeared on Netflix, PBS, the New York Times, NPR, Univision, Al-Jazeera, Vice, Euronews, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Kolak runs Truth & Documentary LLC, a production company serving nonprofits, artists, journalism outlets, and filmmakers to underwrite original documentaries that inspire audiences to question the familiar and build empathy. He was a founding partner of Scrappers Film Group (2013–20).

Alex Inglizian is a Chicago-based artist, composer, musician, engineer, and educator. He is a graduate of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and is currently a codirector and chief recording engineer at Experimental Sound Studio. Inglizian is a professor of sound for film studies and music production at Northwestern University and SAIC.