Salemi, Italy 

 July 16-28, 2017 

The 2017 GEM Summer Institute* will be held at Centro Kim’s video archive in Salemi, Sicily (July 16-28). The institute is a collaboration between Dr. Joshua Neves’ Global Emergent Media (GEM) Lab, housed in the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Program in Film and Moving Image Studies at Concordia University, and Mr. Giuseppe Maiorana, cultural attaché of the municipality of Salemi. The summer program will feature Concordia University faculty and graduate students, alongside a wide-range of internationally recognized artists and scholars, local volunteers and community participants, as well graduate students from Leuphana University (Germany), the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara, and the Accademia di Belle Arti di Palermo, among other local partner institutions.

Centered on the themes “Living Archives” and “Southern Media Ecologies,” as well as problems of media, migration, and globalization, the Institute combines course modules in archival theory and practice, video and found footage projects, media and cultural theory, as well as a focus on local issues and the Centro Kim’s collection—itself a strange parable of media globalization. The story began in 2008 with the closure of Mondo Kim’s Video in New York, one of the best-known specialty video stores in North America. In September of that year, the owner of the store, Yongman Kim, posted a sign announcing that he would give the collection of 55,000 videos to an institution, school, or business able to accommodate the complete holdings, maintain the collection, and provide for future member access. After failed attempts to keep to collection in New York, there was a strange twist in the story. A charismatic and controversial media personality and then mayor of the ancient town of Salemi, Vittorio Sgarbi, successfully pitched the relocation of Kim’s Video as part of a grand cultural renewal project, including “a Never-ending Festival—a 24-hour projection of up to 10 films at once for the foreseeable future . . . and, eventually, the conversion of all Kim’s VHS films to DVDs to ensure their preservation.” In the spring of 2009, Kim’s moved to Sicily.

Following the path of Kim’s voyage to Italy, including the failure of Sgarbi’s original proposal to transform Centro Kim’s into a sustained and buzzing cultural site, the 2017 GEM Summer Institute will initiate a collective project to stabilize and reactivate the collection, and to establish a long-term collaborative network invested in living archives.

The GEM Summer Institute is supported by a 2017 SSHRC Connection grant, the Canada Research Chairs program, the Municipality of Salemi, as well as the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Museo Civico Castelbuono, and the Center for Digital Cultures at Leuphana University