Greg Cohen is an artist, curator, and scholar of visual culture with a particular focus on moving-image and photographic media. His diverse research interests, both academic and artistic, include experimental cinema and appropriation art; landscape theory and aesthetic philosophy; cultural memory and experimental archives; the history and theory of architecture and urbanism; and the intersections of post-war avant-garde art and radical politics.
Cohen earned his Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 2008, where he specialized in Latin American cultural studies, with a particular focus on Argentina and Brazil. Before joining the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Cohen was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at UCLA (2008-2010). From 2010-2015, he also taught in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media, in UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
Cohen’s work in video, photography, multi-media installation, and performance has been exhibited nationally and internationally, in a variety of contexts and institutions, including Salon 02_Plan, UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative; Columbia Global Centers-Paris; the Institute of Cultural Inquiry in Los Angeles; the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University; the Videoholica International Festival of Video Art in Varna, Bulgaria; the Cairo Video Festival, Medrar for Contemporary Art, Egypt; Radical Archives, New York University; and the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA). As a founding associate of the Group for Research on Experimental Accumulation and Speculative Archives (REASArch), Cohen is also the creator of several ongoing, multi-media, visual research projects. These include Grupo Anarquitectura (rama argentina) and The Valaco Archive (featured in issue 6 of Limn magazine).
Cohen currently serves as an Associate Programmer for Los Angeles Filmforum, Southern California’s longest-running screening series for experimental and alternative film and video. In addition, he has served since 2012 as Co-Curator of The Festival of (In)appropriation, an annual, international showcase of experimental found-footage film and video, now in its eleventh edition.
Cine Vivo: An Urban-Latino Humanities Laboratory
This advanced undergraduate seminar is conceived as an interdisciplinary workshop that merges intellectual inquiry with hands-on training in basic, “D-I-Y,” moving-image media production. Weekly screenings, readings, and discussions address past and current issues in community-based, collective, and experimental models of filmmaking in the Latin American and Latino urban contexts. These provide the conceptual foundations for students’ own “urban-Latino community video” projects, which each participant proposes early in the course and develops throughout the quarter. Practical training will be specially tailored to exploit the equipment and technology students already own or can easily borrow through the UCLA library. To facilitate students’ visual research, carefully staged assignments will complement weekly, collective evaluation and critique of works in progress. The course will culminate in the completion and public projection of a significant moving-image media piece that engages directly and critically with an aspect of urban life in the Latino community of Los Angeles.
The Art of Revolution and the Politics of Art in Latin America
Where and how do art and politics coincide? What role can or should the artist play in local, national, or global social movements? What is the relationship between art and its public? How do institutions and governments promote or undermine such relationships? What, in other words, are the politics of aesthetics and the aesthetics of politics in any historical moment? This course will explore the way cinema and the visual arts in Latin America have addressed such questions since the tumultuous decade of the 1960s. Through the analysis of a variety of “visual-cultural” texts, we will probe the possibilities and the limits of “political art” in modern Latin America. Possible objects and contexts may include films, photographs, installations, and performances from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Cuba.
Liquid Modernities: Latin American Cinema and the Global Urban Imaginary
Beginning with the idea of cinema as an intrinsically urban cultural form, this course explores the multifaceted relationship between Latin American cinema and the city in the age of globalization. Weekly screenings of diverse independent films produced across the region over the past two decades anchor weekly discussions, while select theoretical and contextual readings further help to situate those works within broader cultural frameworks related to the contemporary urban imaginary. While acquiring and developing a strong foundation in formal film analysis, students gain both a general familiarity with Latin American cinema today and a critical appreciation of its idiosyncrasies. In addition to analytical and practical writing assignments, students also produce a work of “urban visual research” for their final projects, in the form of an “urban video” they design, shoot, and edit themselves using basic, readily available recording and editing tools.
Contemporary Argentine Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics, and Visual Culture
Be it fiction, documentary, or non-narrative and experimental, the contemporary independent cinema of Argentina represents one of the most vital sites of cultural production in Latin America today. Rather than provide a panoramic overview of recent Argentine cinema, this course instead will home in “radiographically” on a limited (and decidedly subjective) selection of moving-image artists and their work, in order to explore, at close-range, a series of issues, cultural discourses, and aesthetic practices at the heart of moving-image media production in contemporary Argentina. Along the way, students will acquire the central tools of formal film analysis, while learning and practicing the methods of active film spectatorship and rigorous film criticism. Possible themes include: auteurs, genres, and genders; documentary practices and cultural memory; landscape and the geographic imagination; neoliberalism, globalization, and national identity.
History, Memory, Truth, Fiction: Documentary Practices in Latin America
An examination of critical documentary practices in contemporary Latin America since the 1960s, this course focuses primarily on non-fiction film and video, with additional considerations of documentary photography, installation, and participatory media. Rather than offer a survey of national or continental traditions, the course instead addresses the ways in which documentary artists from diverse contexts and periods in Latin America have negotiated the complexities of documentary representation itself. Themes may include the relationship of the present to the past and of cultural knowledge to the archive; the construction of individual and collective memory; the nexus of political agency and social space; the tension between art and everyday life; and the limits of “truth” and “fiction”.
New Cinemas in the Latin American Sixties
This course examines the great innovations of independent cinema in Latin America during the “long decade” of the 1960s. Beginning with the premise that film new waves in the Latin American Sixties are best understood in relation to broader transformations in film aesthetics and critical discourse taking place globally at the time, we focus on a wide selection of feature-length films from across the region, some firmly situated within the Latin American film canon, others less frequently associated with the major new cinema movements of the period. To deepen our film analyses, we will also consider key critical and programmatic texts from the period and beyond. Ultimately, our aim is to address issues of “new wave” aesthetics, the transnational elements of Latin American film history, the cinema’s critical engagement with cultural identities, national imaginaries, and dominant ideologies, and the dynamic matrix of modern discourse, revolutionary politics, and the global circulation of film styles during a high point of Latin American film culture.
Select Publications and Presentations
- Festival of (In)appropriation: invited public presentation, screening (10th edition), and panel discussion with film scholar Alfredo Suppia and art historian Jane de Almeida, Universidade Estudual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil, August 22, 2019
- Festival of (In)appropriation: invited public presentation, screening (10th edition), and panel discussion with art historian Carolin Overhoff Ferreira, Universidade Federal de São Paulo-Guarulhos, Brazil, August 21, 2019
- “No hay solución. Edifiquemos el problema. Towards a Speculative Genealogy of the Grupo Anarquitectura (rama argentina). Inaugural Lectrure, Graduate Programa in Education, Art, and Cultural History, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, São Paulo, Brazil, 13 August, 2019
- Greg Cohen, translator, “Aladdin for One Day/Aladino por un día,” poem by Daniel Aguirre Oteiza, in Antología Bilingüe Po-Ex (Santiago de Chile: Go Ediciones, 2019) 16-17
- Photographs by Greg Cohen, in Daniel Aguirre Oteiza, Si en ajena deriva, epilogue by Eduardo Milán, Colección Poesía Ay del seis (Madrid: Trifaldi, 2018)
- Festival of (In)appropriation: invited public presentation, screening (6th edition), and panel discussion with film scholar Michael Renov, First Forum 2018: “Emergency & Emergence,” Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Conference organized by the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the Division of Media Arts + Practice, University of Southern California, October 20, 2018
- Greg Cohen, translator, “OMR,” by Silvestre Byrón, in Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina), ed. Jesse Lerner, Luciano Piazza (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017) 190-203
- “Documentary in/and the Hospitable Common?” Invited lecture/discussion, UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative, May 11, 2017
- Festival of (In)appropriation: invited public presentation, screening (8th edition), and televised discussion with film scholar Constance Penley, Carsey-Wolf Center/Pollock Theater, University of California, Santa Barbara, October 27, 2016. https://vimeo.com/191083847
- “Of Speculation and Experimental Accumulation: Notes on the Valaco Archive.” Invited lecture. Information Studies Colloquium Series. UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, May 5, 2016
- “Selections from the Valaco Archive” (Featured Artist). The Total Archive, ed. Stephen J. Collier, Christopher M. Kelty, Andrew Lakoff. Special issue of Limn 6 (Winter 2016): 68-71. http://limn.it/selections-from-the-valaco-archive/
- “The Revolution Must (Not) Be Advertised: The Players vs. Ángeles Caídos, the Discourse of Advertising, and the Limits of Political Modernism.” Jump Cut 56 (Winter 2014-15): https://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc56.2014-2015/CohenPlayersFallenAngels/index.html
- “The Valaco Archive Project: The Speculative Archive as Machine for Visual Thinking.” Artist talk/presentation. Radical Archives: Conference organized by Chitra Ganesh and Mariam Ghani, Artists-in-Residence, Asian/Pacific/American Institute, New York University, April 11-12, 2014
- “Spot Radical: From the Discourse of Political Modernism to the Aesthetics of Advertising in Films of the Argentine Underground,” Panel paper, Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA, March 17-21, 2010
- “Brasília and the End(s) of Modernity: Cinematic Space, Urban Design, and the Distant Horizon in a Forgotten Film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade,” Open call paper, Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference. Tokyo, Japan, May 21-24, 2009
- “Long Live My All-Time Favorite Latin American Film.” Film review of Idade da Terra, dir. Glauber Rocha (Brazil, 1970).” ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America 8.3 (Fall 2009/Winter 2010): 27
- “City of the Planalto: The Filmic Brasília and the Nature of Late-Modern Spatiality,” Panel paper, Transnational Space and the Politics of Place: Third Annual Conference of the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities Program, UCLA, May 8-9, 2009
- “New Takes on the New: The Cinemas of 1960s Latin America.” ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America 8.2. The 60s in Latin America, Glimpses of an Era (Winter 2009): 53-55
- Cinema, Spatial Thought, and the Ends of Modernity. Argentina and Brazil in the Sixties. Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2008
Select Exhibitions and Screenings
- Alienocene: Journal of the First Outernational, Stratum 5 (June 2019). Online HD video stream of Being Plant [Vol. 1] (with Phillip John Usher). https://alienocene.com
- SALON 02_PLAN. Group exhibition and symposium. UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative. May 24 –26, 2019
- Intra-. Infra-. Ultra-. Auto-. Four Short Video Works. Solo screening, followed by discussion with Phillip John Usher, Associate Professor of French, NYU. Columbia Global Centers-Paris, Paris, France, July 12, 2017
- Portrait: (Auto-)biography of a Way of Seeing. Solo multi-media installation (Iteration IV of “With Everything but the Monkey Head” project). Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Los Angeles, July 30, 2016
- Second Annual Art Exhibition. Group show. Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University, 28 April – 21 May, 2016
- A New History of the Photographic Science and Treatise on its Potential for the Enhancement of Mechanical Vision. Solo installation. Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Los Angeles, February-March 2016
- 6th Cairo Video Festival. Medrar for Contemporary Art, Cairo, Egypt, 8-20 November 2014.
- Electron Salon. Invitational group exhibition, curated by Rex Bruce. Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA), October 2014
- 7th Videoholica International Video Art Festival. Varna, Bulgaria, 1-7 August 2014
- Ten New Artists to Watch. Group exhibition, curated by Holly Harrison (LACMA) and Peter Frank (Huffington Post). Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA), September-October 2013
- Valaco in Babel. Solo installation and artist talk. Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Los Angeles, April 2013