Outsider art at SIFF

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To anyone going SIFFing this holiday weekend, I highly recommend Marwencol, a documentary about trauma victim Mark Hogancamp’s unique form of art therapy: he dresses up G.I. Joe and Barbie dolls as people he knows, uses them to act out elaborate cinematic fantasies in a fictional WWII-era Belgian town he has built in his backyard, then photographs the results. Hogancamp’s photos have caught the attention of the art world, giving him an opportunity to re-engage with society – or not. Director Jeff Malmberg is scheduled to attend both performances.

SIFF is also screening Rouge Ciel, which offers a larger perspective on outsider art: it includes a historical survey of Art Brut (this is a French film), conflicting opinions on the meaning of outsider art, and several case studies. The latter include Chicago janitor Henry Darger, whose 15,000 page fantasy novel and accompanying illustrations were the subject of a fabulous exhibit at the Frye a few years ago (as well as the excellent documentary In the Realms of the Unreal).

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