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Demons, Snakes, and Evil Trees Exhibition

2/27/2014 12:00 AM
3/30/2014 12:00 AM

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday or by appointment
Demons, Snake Girls, and Evil Trees  includes selection of voodoo-themed posters promoting Nigerian movies from the collection curated by Brian Chankin who owns Odd Obsession Movies, an independent video rental store in Bucktown. In the 1980s, mobile cinema clubs showed imported films in Ghana, going from village to village with a TV, a VCR, and a generator. Lacking access to the sleekly printed posters from Hollywood, the video clubs commissioned local artists to paint promotional posters. The artists often painted on the backside of used flour sacks and without viewing the films. They created mesmerizing, idiosyncratic paintings that were transported across the country to promote the mobile showings.  

Odd Obsession Movies (1822 N. Milwaukee | collected more than 200 of these posters and its collection offers a window into the nascent days of the poster phenomenon. This exhibition will showcase a couple dozen posters grouped thematically around Nigerian voodoo films.   

Chankin explained, “These films were regularly produced with a mandate that they honor God, and they contain an interesting mix of horror and melodramatic elements. The posters are remarkable cultural artifacts and the collection charts the development as the selection of films expanded from Hollywood films to include many Bollywood (India), Nollywood (Nigeria), and Kung Fu (Hong Kong) movies. Frequently the posters have only passing relation to the referenced film. The language has been contorted and mistranslated, and there is a preoccupation with violence tinged with humor. These peculiarities add to the posters’ strange allure and abet their artistic successes.”  

The posters in the gallery will be complemented by a running slideshow of the entire Odd Obsession collection. The exhibition will extend beyond the borders of the gallery – several other floors of Harold Washington College will present themed groupings of the posters, and a large selection of posters will also be on view at Odd Obsession Movies. To add to the experience, Harold Washington College will screen Nollywood films on Tuesdays during the run of the show.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call the art department, (312) 553-5738, or visit  

Contact Information

Jason Pallas
(312) 553-5738
President's Gallery (Room 1105)
30 E. Lake St.
Chicago, IL 60601
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