Category Archives: film

84 Garden 2

84 Garden 2″ documents JoAnn Elam working in the garden of her Logan Square residence in Chicago. Based on her consistent outfit, the film appears to have been shot during a single day at work and primarily features Elam tending to young sprouts previously planted in the plots of land. The relationship of the film

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Perhaps shot on Lake Michigan in 1976, Sailboat by JoAnn Elam consists of a series of rapidly edited shots of sailboats in the distance. The framing and editing produce a remarkable effect, with the sailboat in the middle of the screen getting closer and then further away within seconds. As this collection makes manifest, such

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Light Leak

In this footage by JoAnn Elam, almost nothing is discernible, with the exception of buildings sometimes emerging in the dark and stripes of orange light invading the black screen near the end. Like other elements from this collection, Light Leak exemplifies the type of cinematic experimentations that Elam was interested in her work.


Shot in 1976, this footage by JoAnn Elam shows the traffic on the streets of Chicago, first from the top of building in a somewhat voyeuristic fashion, and second at street level. Near the end, the camera focuses on a group of people walking by the Buckingham Fountain in downtown Chicago. Like many other elements

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Garden & Alley

Shot in 1980, Garden & Alley shows JoAnn Elam’s vegetable garden in her backyard in Chicago. As in other elements of this collection, the camera here pans over the plants and flowers springing from the earth and over the houses around and garage doors at the end. In that sense, Garden & Alley further reveals

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This footage by JoAnn Elam was shot in 1976, possibly during Elam’s visit to friends and relatives for her high school reunion in Kansas City, MO, where she went to high school from 1964 through 1966. In the first part, the camera focuses on the family and friends cooking, playing, and talking outside, before it

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Snow 83

In this footage, JoAnn Elam films the house of a college friend named Bonner in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, which she visited in 1983. The camera pans over the house and its surroundings covered in snow, before someone comes towards it and goes past. Elam then comes out of the house and films the

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PS Art Fair

Shot by JoAnn Elam in 1983 at the Palmer Square Art Fair in Chicago, this footage shows the participants of the fair interacting, playing music, and selling various artifacts outside. Slightly out of focus, these images nonetheless capture Elam’s experience in the crowd, with her camera panning over the people and spinning around until something

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Moon Rock

This footage by JoAnn Elam shows a moon rock on display behind a glass window, possibly at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The moon rock is shown from different angles, with the camera moving around it from behind the glass and capturing its texture from close. Light reflections on the glass, however,

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[Kids Playing on the Street]

As its title indicates, [Kids Playing on the Street] by JoAnn Elam consists of shots of children and teenagers playing and running around on the street, possibly in Chicago where Elam lived most of her life. Sometimes out of focus and slightly underexposed, this footage captures the vitality of its subjects, who also interact with

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