DREAMS OF PASSION: THE SHORT FILMS OF AARIN BURCH: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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A woman with dark curly hair stands behind a 16mm camera taking her own image
Still courtesy of the artist
7 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Fri March 1, 2024
7 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public



With artist in person! 




Join us for a hybrid artist-talk and screening with path-breaking Oakland media artist Aarin Burch, whose short films explore the boundaries of creative personal expression and Black lesbian identity. Through her exploratory filmmaking practice, Burch’s autobiographical films ruminate on race, relationships, the body, and queer community. 

As an independent film and video-maker who began working in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1980s, Burch was influenced by and studied with Barbara Hammer and Marlon Riggs, two pioneers of queer cinema who’s differing approaches to engaged media making are evidenced in her work. Recognizing this artistic inheritance, a selection Burch’s work will be accompanied by Riggs’ 1991 short ANTHEM. This program includes 16mm presentations of Burch’s DREAMS OF PASSION (1989) and SPIN CYCLE (1991), along with resurfaced video work CLUB Q (1991).


Program includes:

DREAMS OF PASSION (Aarin Burch, 1989, 5 min, 16mm)

“An exploration of desire between two Black women set in a dance studio, featuring contemporary dancers Matima Hadi and Debra Floyd as well as original music by multi-instrumentalist Vicki Randle.” -Film Scene


SPIN CYCLE (Aarin Burch, 1991, 5 min, 16mm) 

“This autobiographical look at filmmaking and romantic relationships sees the filmmaker reflecting on how to represent race, the ways her films might objectify women, and being pigeonholed as a Black lesbian filmmaker.” – Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts (2023)


ANTHEM (Marlon Riggs, 1991, 9 min, digital) 

“Marlon Riggs’ experimental music video politicizes the homoeroticism of African-American men.." -Frameline


CLUB Q (Aarin Burch, 1991, 8 min, digital)

An inside look at San Francisco’s legendary ‘90s queer women’s monthly dance party.

Plus additional films from Aarin Burch’s archive!

Aarin Burch films courtesy of the artist and Film Studies Center at University of Chicago, ANTHEM provided by Frameline. 

Following Burch’s presentation and screening, the artist will be in conversation with Tayler Scriber (PhD in Screen Cultures).


About the artist:

Aarin Burch, a pioneering voice in queer cinema and San Francisco native, dedicates her film career to exploring interior landscapes, focusing on mixed-race identities, mother-daughter conflicts, and personal narratives as a lover and artist. A B.F.A. graduate, mentored by Barbara Hammer and Marlon Riggs, Aarin is currently in pre-production for a documentary on her mother, artist Laurel Burch, delving into a story of inner conflict and inspiration.

With nearly three decades at Olivia Travel, Aarin produced and directed films, including notable documentaries like A Place of Rage (1991) featuring Angela Davis and Warrior Marks (1993) with Alice Walker. As a sought-after speaker, she participated in the 2023 Sojourner Truth Festival, screening early films like Dreams of Passion (1989) and Spin Cycle (1989), recognized for featuring a historic kiss between two Black women. Aarin has also directed innovative films on the mixed-race experience, including My People Are (2007) and Club Q, exploring the lesbian club scene in 1991.


 Co-presented with the Screen Cultures program and Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. With gratitude to Hayley O’Malley (Cinematic Arts, University of Iowa) and Ariel Rogers (Radio/Television Film, Northwestern University) for their support of this program. 

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at block-museum@northwestern.edu