Michigan filmmaker to give lecture at GVSU

GVL / Courtesy - gvsu.edu

GVL / Courtesy – gvsu.edu

Megan Webster

On Monday, Oct. 16, Grand Valley State University will host a lecture featuring Adam Shingwak Khalil (Ojibway), a Michigan-native filmmaker and artist who focuses on undermining the traditional forms of ethnography in his work through humor transgression and relation.

Khalil’s lecture, which will take place in Lake Huron Hall, Room 132, from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., will focus on his collaborative work and his creative process while showcasing excerpts and topics from his most recent film, “INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./].”

Paul Wittenbraker, a visual studies and foundations professor at GVSU, said Khalil’s work is unique in that it focuses on being indigenous, something that is unique to the current film culture. 

“His work is indigenous kind of in form, as well as in content, and that’s a radically interesting thing, especially for us who are interested in contemporary culture and living in Grand Rapids, living in Michigan, which is significantly an indigenous place,” Wittenbraker said. 

Wittenbraker said the lecture would bring people together to gain more cultural knowledge.

“The lecture on campus is important to just bring important leaders and cultural workers, to bring them into this place where we’re learning not only culture but all kinds of knowledge,” Wittenbraker said. “It’s exciting to bring him into that space of learning and to present a lecture.”

Khalil’s most recent film was screened at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids Sunday, Oct. 15. 

The hope for this lecture, as Wittenbraker put it, is to allow the audience to fully understand and acknowledge where they live, who lives there and how the different perspectives in one place can be considered together without undermining each culture’s legitimacy. 

“My hope is that their attention is directed towards the place that they live and that the way that they understand it is broadened, especially in relation to people who live in the same area but whose perspectives might be distinct and equally, even maybe more, legitimate,” Wittenbraker said. 

This event is being organized by the Office for Public Culture, the newly founded Department of Visual and Media Arts and a visiting artist committee within the department. The organization of this event will allow the university community to listen and learn something from a new perspective on a topic the community has already acknowledged. 

“A university community is already tapped into many of the perspectives that are important about culture,” Wittenbraker said. “But I think what is interesting about this is that it’s fresh and it brings those things to life by, rather than talking about them, it is them.” 

This lecture is not only relevant to those attending GVSU but also to those who live in the surrounding Grand Rapids community or anywhere else that offers diverse perspectives within multiple cultures. 

“These days, we are seeing on a regular basis the importance of organizing our lives and our cities in ways that are diverse and unified,” Wittenbraker said. “That supports a broad perspective and also provides a platform for us to engage with each other and for us to understand and engage stories across different cultures. That’s one of the great powers of cultures, and it’s exciting to see art put to work doing that.”

Kristin Mayer, a GVSU student who is involved in the planning of the lecture, said the work Khalil and his brother/co-director, Zack Khalil, are doing sheds light on North American history, allowing viewers to learn more while exploring alternatives to dominant ideologies. 

“I think that what is really important about the type of work that indigenous artists like Adam are doing is reminding viewers of the significance of the impacts of settler colonialism,” Mayer said. “History presents itself in a way that makes it seem like settlers arrived on Turtle Island, the continent of North America, and that was the extent of it. The reality is that settler colonialism is all too real and present; it continues to affect our relationships with ourselves and with others.”

For more information on this lecture or upcoming lectures of this genre, visit the Department of Visual and Media Arts’ website at www.gvsu.edu/vma