Silvia Malagrino

Silvia Malagrino

Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Film

Competition: US & Canada

University of Illinois, Chicago

Silvia Malagrino is a photographer and filmmaker, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She lives and works in Chicago, and is a Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, she is the recipient of a fellowship from the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women & Gender in the Arts & Media, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois.

Prior to her development as a visual artist, in her native country of Argentina, Ms. Malagrino studied Literature and Modern Languages at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and graduated from L’Alliance Française de Paris in Buenos Aires as a professor of French and French Literature. She moved to the United States in 1978, and received an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1987.

Ms. Malagrino’s artistic practice is fluid, and essentially interdisciplinary. She works with different mediums—photography, digital video, language, light, and sound—to represent not only issues of historical and cultural interest but also to explore in depth the fancies, the intricacies, and the idiosyncrasies of the personal imagination. Currently, her work includes the creation of short video pieces that are poetic explorations of time, space, and memory, and the direction and production of independent experimental documentaries through Libremedia, her own production company.

In her early work, Ms. Malagrino dealt with the realm of memories and dreams. She has used them as the subsoil of her art to establish connections between fact and fiction, and to reclaim subjectivity as an integral part of historical testimony—since she believes that much of one’s interior world is the product of one’s social existence.

During the ’90s she created site-specific installations in which she interrelated digitally processed media. She juxtaposed groupings of photographs, large murals, and written texts that were independent of each other but that were designed to call forth a series of correspondences between history and memory, human action and accountability. Later on, her work became more interactive with the gallery space. She used photographs, video, and light design to explore spatial, temporal, and conceptual relationships between media and viewers. She experimented with media, narrative, and photographic representation, while addressing issues of particular global histories.

In 1998 she took a leap of faith and became totally involved in the research, direction, and production of her first feature-length poetic documentary, Burnt Oranges (2005), about the long-term effects and repercussions, personal and social, of Argentina’s 1970s state terrorism, and the global necessity to defend human rights and democratic values. The film, widely acclaimed, was produced with an NEA Creativity Grant in Media (2004), with the sponsorship of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Lucius and Eva Eastman Grant (2004), among others. Burnt Oranges has received awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle (2005), and two awards in an international competition: Aurora Platinum Best of The Show Award in the category of Cultural Documentary, and the Aurora Gold Award for Directing (2007).

Ms. Malagrino has exhibited and screened her works nationally and internationally at numerous institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Gene Siskel Theatre, Chicago; the Palais de Glace National Art Gallery, the Centro Cultural La Recoleta, and the Centro Cultural de la Cooperacion Floreal Gorini, Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia; the Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy; the Ateneo of Madrid, Spain; The Rochester Institute of Technology, New York; the Museum of Latin American Art, Organization of the American States, Washington, D.C.; and many others.

Her works are included in the collections of the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano, Buenos Aires; La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; and the Fundaçao Athos Bulçao, Brasilia; among many others.

Ms. Malagrino received a nomination for the Infinity Award, International Center for Photography, New York City (1998), and she was awarded a National Endowment for The Arts Midwest Grant (1994). Other grants and fellowships include, but are not limited to, the Illinois Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowships in Photography and Media Arts (1987,1989, 1983, 1996, 2000, and 2005); grants from The Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Chicago: Community Assistance Grant (1990, 1995, 1996, 2008), and the International Travel Grant (1996); The Campus Research Board Grant University of Illinois at Chicago (1994, 1996, 1997, 1999) and a Grant in Aid from the Institute for the Humanities from the University of Illinois at Chicago (1997). In 2005 Ms. Malagrino received the Lorenzo De Medici First Prize Award in New Media at the 5th Edition of The Florence Biennale

During her fellowship Ms. Malagrino will be working on a feature documentary in collaboration with Chicago filmmaker Sharon Karp. Titled Singing in Darkness, the film traces the flight from the Nazis of Sharon Karp’s parents from Austria to America, while exploring the complexities of inherited historical and personal trauma.

Profile photo by Pam Bingham.

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