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Meet the artist

Malena Szlam will be present in the gallery to meet the public on:


Saturday July 10 from 12pm to 5pm

Saturday August 14 from 12pm to 5pm

All are welcome! 

* please note that the maximum capacity in the gallery is 8 people.


As part of SBC’s public programming for Malena Szlam’s exhibition Infra—, we have invited researcher Jessica Mulvogue to explore the artists' body of work. Listen here.


Malena Szlam is a Chilean artist filmmaker based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Her films, performances and installations examine the relations between cinematic practice, embodiment, temporality, and perception. Engaging the affective dimensions of analogue processes, Szlam’s work gives material form to kinetic and lyrical approximations of the natural world.


Szlam’s work has been showcased at leading festivals including Wavelengths at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), New Directors/New Films Festival at MoMA and Lincoln Center, Media City Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Edinburgh International Festival, and CPH:DOX. Her latest film, ALTIPLANO received numerous awards, including 25 FPS’s Grand Prix, Melbourne International Film Festival’s Best Experimental Short Film, and TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten 2018.


Recent international group exhibitions include Time Machine, Palazzo del Governatore (Italy); Expanded Plus: Utopian Phantom, Factory of Contemporary Arts Palbok (South Korea); and The Moon: From Inner Worlds to Outer Space, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark). Her first retrospective, Inexistent Time was presented by Los Angeles Filmforum. Other solo screenings include San Francisco Cinematheque, Cornell Cinema, and FICValdivia.


Szlam holds a BFA in Visual Arts from University of Arts and Social Sciences (ARCIS) in Santiago and an MFA in Cinema from Concordia University in Montreal. She co-directed CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts and is an active member of Double Negative, an artist collective dedicated to the production and exhibition of experimental cinema. 



Text by Gwynne Fulton

“Worldwide,” writes Colombian anthropologist Arturo Escobar, “multiple struggles for the reconstruction of communal spaces and for reconnecting with nature are giving rise to political mobilizations for the defense of the relational fabric of life.” We see these struggles across the so-called “Americas”—continents constituted through interconnected colonial histories of genocidal conquest and plunder—from the pine forests of Kanehsatà:ke, Québec to the Atacama salt flats of present-day Northern Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, where the Atacameño Lickanantay people continue to defend their ancestral territories, ways of living and knowing. These resistance movements require experiments in “worlding,” commoning and collectivity, but also aesthetic languages—cinematic and otherwise.

Taking as its title the prefix “infra-,” Latin for “below,” Malena Szlam’s first Canadian solo gallery exhibition develops a poetics of the material world in a process of transmutation just below the threshold of human perception. The work gathered in the exhibition Infra— initiates collaborations with natural phenomena through analogue processes. Her cinematic geopoetics explores human and non-human relationships with earth, or what the Atacameño call Pachamama. Szlam’s work is attuned to subterranean turbulence. Attentive to the incessant rhythms and rumblings through which the earth communicates, her images listen for the seismic signals and molten flows in the belly of volcanoes. Translating these hidden dialogues, her images unravel a shimmering underworld that Escobar, drawing on Andean cosmovisions, calls “el mundo de abajo,” or infraworld. 


A restless camera stutters across irregular forms of an ancestral desert-world. Images pulsate with the celestial vitality of dream-worlds. At once breathtakingly beautiful and beset by interconnected registers of ecological, ontological and political violence, Szlam’s images of land and sky heed a present, haunted by absences and omissions—of lunar time and its vernacular cultures of storytelling and the desert’s ongoing colonial histories of extractivism.

Lyrical, expanded, embodied, feminist, phenomenological: Szlam’s work belongs to these avant-garde lineages of experimental cinema, but also to another framework grounded in the Latin American decolonial movement. If aesthetics (a term that comes from the Ancient Greek concept aesthesis) has been dominated by a Western tradition, Latin American decolonial aesthetics reclaims other ways of sensing, perceiving and relating to nonhuman worlds. Drawing on magic-realism and the space-time of contrasts that belongs to ukhu pacha—earth’s invisible inside, whose “eyes” are caves, volcanoes and mines—Szlam’s films experiment with syncretic ways of organizing sonic and visual spectra of sensory experience below the threshold of human perception. Hers is an aesthesis of the infra-.


Silver plays a central role in Szlam’s infra-aesthetics, linking Canadian multinational mining companies to dusty red mountains of silver, lithium and other strategic minerals scattered throughout the Andean region, to Kodak factories on US soil: to filmstock, semiconductors, touch screens, and the (human and more-than-human) labour that sustains capital. Szlam explores the “natural world,” yet this is not “Nature” as it has been understood under the scientific horizon of instrumentalism that transforms “world” into “nature” and “nature” into “resources” when it links mineral-(under)worlds to “world markets.” Reimagining our relation to the nonhuman world, here nature too is sentient. Perhaps silver has its own aesthesis, its own way of perceiving. The very mineral matter extracted from Andean mines travels through a global network of exchange to end up suspended up in celluloid, the flesh of cinematic worlds, to be exposed once again by silvery rays of the moon, or to expose the wretchedness of earth. Film is an ambivalent medium: both a hallucinogenic material witness and active agent in the predatory global capitalism that continues to feed on the open veins of Latin America.

Without escaping complicity, Szlam’s geopoetics explores ways of relating to the nonhuman world. The moon dances frenetically across the screen, enacting fugitive time that transgresses the linearity with which Western thought attempts to discipline it. Spaces and times collide against one another, opening new dimensions of agency and imagination. Silence is filled with infrasonic noise. The present is inhabited by past and future worlds, breaking the “hellish cycle” of what Fanon calls “colonial temporality.” As you navigate this body of work spanning nearly two decades and a dizzying array of analogue processes, consider how this syncretic entanglement of sensory worlds mobilizes for the defense of the relational fabric of life.

Gwynne Fulton is a theorist and independent curator based between Tio’tia:ke/Montreal and Bogotá. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on visibility and violence in critical thought and contemporary art. She holds a PhD in Philosophy and Art History from Concordia University, where she is currently a postdoctoral researcher. She is a contributor at Slought Foundation in Philadelphia. Her writing has appeared in esse, Mosaic, In/Visible Culture and Dazibao editions.


Analogue film is central to Malena Szlam’s artistic practice, manifesting through cinema, performance, and installation. Through her work, Szlam develops an aesthetics that draws from visual art, while simultaneously responding to the traditions of moving image art and experimental cinema. Expanding the language of film and engaging the medium’s material dimensions, she explores relations between the natural world, embodied perception, and intuitive procedures. Most recently, her work leans toward geology and earth sciences, in volcanology and the earth’s crust. 


Szlam’s filmmaking practice evolved organically from her work in photography and sculpture. She engages all aspects of the film process—from research and filming to developing and editing—with each phase opening new forms of experimentation. While most of her films are silent, recent works include soundscapes of field and infrasound recordings created in collaboration with sound artists and scientists. Reflecting on the spatiotemporal dimensions of still and moving images, her 35mm, 16mm, and Super 8mm films observe natural phenomena and their connection to acts of seeing and listening as unique sensorial experiences. When filming, Szlam searches for latent connections between her observations and the present moment to compose rhythmic sequences using in-camera editing and frame-by-frame photography. The aleatory and the performative are central to her artistic practice. In her creative practice, images evolve through a durational and improvised process of exchange between imagination and the film surface.



Borja-Villel, Manuel, et al. Rosa Barba: From Source to Poem. Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2017.


Jeannette Muñoz: El paisaje como un mar / The Landscape as a Sea. Edited by Francisco Algarín Navarro. Asociación Lumière, 2017.

Lebrat, Christian. Radical Cinema. Translated by Anna Doyle. Paris: Eyewash Books-Paris Expérimental, 2021


Noguez, Dominique. Éloge du cinéma expérimental. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou-Paris Expérimental, 2010.


Schneeman, Carolee. Imaging Her Erotics: Essays, Interviews, Projects. Cambridge (MAS): The MIT Press, 2001.


Vancheri, Luc. Cinémas contemporains: du film à l’installation. Lyon: Aléas, 2009.


Vicuña, Cecilia. Spit Temple. Translated by Rosa Alcalá. London: Inpress Books, 2012.

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