Another major move in Chicago film programming was announced Monday, with Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art naming a replacement for longtime curator Mimi Brody. Michelle Puetz takes the title of Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts on July 13, moving over from the MCA, where she’s curated mixed-media exhibits working with video and other time-based media.
At the Block, Puetz will oversee programming for the Block Cinema, as well as continue to curate exhibitions involving video. She was selected by a committee of eleven Block staff, Northwestern faculty members and students through what Kathleen Bickford Berzock, committee member and Block’s associate director of curatorial affairs, described as a “very, very rigorous process.” Berzock said she felt Puetz was uniquely qualified for the position, especially in establishing a greater presence of time-based media in the Block’s galleries. “What was so remarkable about Michelle Puetz as a candidate for this position is that a media arts specialist is already a rare thing,” Berzock said. “What [she] has that’s even more unique is this crossover of experience where she is equally experienced as a programmer and historian as she is as a curator in a gallery space.”
Some of Puetz’s first projects at the museum will include a fall 2015 exhibition on Joan Jonas’ video and performance art, as well as the first-ever major exhibition on avant-garde performer Charlotte Moorman’s work from the 1960s-1980s, with parallel cinema programming organized by Puetz in winter 2016. “The thing that really thrilled me about the Block as a curatorial endeavor is the ethos of the position and that all of the staff there is inherently collaborative,” Puetz said. “I got that feeling strongly from the first time I went up there, and that’s the thing that’s most attractive to me, this idea of being part of this really dynamic curatorial medium.” (Marissa Page)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.