Kartemquin Films is a Chicago-born collaborative center for documentary media makers. In 2016, the production company celebrated 50 years of sparking democracy through documentary. To celebrate this milestone, Kartemquin opened up its historic building and vault to bring its history and knowledge to the Chicago public at the Expo 72 gallery, operated by the Chicago Cultural Center, just off Michigan Avenue. For the first time in its history, Kartemquin staff sorted through over 30,000 elements to curate an exhibition spanning the evolution of the film collective and of documentary filmmaking itself, including the creation of classic films such as Inquiring Nuns (1968), Hoop Dreams (1994) and The Interrupters (2011).
It was an incredible honor and tremendous challenge to help organize and design 50 years of thoughtful and provocative documentary into an exhibit-able reality. Cameras, film stills, photographs, documents and more were displayed in a flexible vignette-style presentation reflecting the diverse and sometimes chaotic nature of the organization's history. The exhibit itself was a work of performance, continually evolving throughout its three month run as Kartemquin collaborators were invited to add to and reflect on the objects and stories on display. The gallery space was not only transformed into an historic showcase but also an interactive platform for contemporary and creative political discourse.