Movie Theater-Inspired Art Installations


Anish Kapoor’s Descension, an ominous vortex built into the floor of an Italian movie theater (previously featured at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale) continues to mesmerize. “Descension destabilizes, undermines our perception of the earth as a solid element, and confirms Kapoor’s interest in non-objects and self-generated forms. In its state of flux and movement, Descension presents us with a perpetual force, a thrust downwards and towards a totally unknowable interior,” explains a press release. Paired with the site of the theater, Kapoor’s installation takes on a whole new dialogue about space and perception. We explore several other artworks that use the cinema as a point of entry.

From Creative Time’s 42nd Street Art Project, when Jenny Holzer took over the marquees of abandoned 42nd street theaters:

Jenny Holzer has taken over the empty marquees which once advertised events at 42nd Street theaters. Instead of coming attractions, however, we find ‘truisms’ — statements by Holzer which have the authoritative ring of proverbs. But instead of confirming accepted practice, these comments often seem to come out of left field. Holzer reorders the world along lines according to her canny ‘uncommon sense.’

The movies, Buring Man-style:

Inspired by the theater from “The Last Picture Show,” the Black Rock Bijou attempts to bring that forgotten, wondrous experience of going to the movies back to life, with brilliant, classic black-and-white films you almost forgot, in the kind of setting that’s more or less vanished — the single-screen, small-town cinema. But just like Black Rock City itself, once a year it magically reappears. And because it’s part of the magic of Burning Man, the movie and the candy are free, to all who brave the long journey, by foot, or bike, or art car, into the Bermuda Triangle of Burning Man, knowns as the ‘deep playa,’ for the late-night shows.

Constance Hockaday’s Boatel , a floating hotel-movie theater-art installation in Far Rockaway, Queens.

Cinéphémère was a temporary shipping container theater that seated 14 and screened films from five to ten different artists.

Also using the shipping container as a temporary cinema was TV network USA. These mobile mini theaters screened eight short films in New York, “commissioned as part of USA Network’s Character Project, a partnership with directors Ridley and Tony Scott. The unique design of the 18-seat, air-conditioned ‘screening pods’ complements the theme of the short films, which focus on interesting characters and personalities — some fictional and some real (like Jeff Dowd, who inspired The Dude character from The Big Lebowski).”

More on Jesse Jones’ political theater installation in Ireland:

12 Angry Films was a temporary Drive In cinema that showed films examining class, migration and social justice in Dublin’s Docklands over two nights in Nov 2006. Located in the dramatic disused industrial setting of Pigeon House, a place formally used for manufacturing was transformed into a temporary Drive-in cinema. The objective of this art project, conceived by visual artist Jesse Jones, was to create a collective social space where films both by and about workers and activists could be shown, generating debate and reflection on globalisation and the changing nature of industrial labour.

Diana Thater’s video installation took over Hauser & Wirth’s Piccadilly gallery with the digital post-nuclear landscape of Chernobyl. Website Depesha explains:

For this work, Thater spent time in the ‘Zone of Alienation’ which surrounds the site of the nuclear disaster, filming the eroded architecture and wildlife of the one-hundred mile wide radioactive territory. The animals she films have managed to survive amid the devastation of the only existing post-human landscape, demonstrating a wilderness of man’s making. The installation focuses on the rare and endangered Przewalski’s Horse. Once facing certain extinction in its native habitat in central Asia, this sub-species of the wild horse now roams freely in the ‘Zone of Alienation’. . . . The desolate remains of an abandoned movie theatre in Prypiat, a city founded to house the Chernobyl nuclear plant workers, will form the backdrop of Thater’s installation. The city’s decomposing architecture will be juxtaposed against the footage of the wild animals living in the ‘Zone of Alienation’. Through this installation, visitors will experience a world where a man-made catastrophe has abruptly halted all progress and animals inhabit an irradiated landscape. Overlaying physical and filmic spaces, Thater confronts the successes of civilisation with its profound failure.

Artist Liz Roberts is making us all kinds of excited with her March 2015 installation Drive-In Movie (Everything I Need To Know About Sex & Death I Learned From JG Ballard). The installation was “made from salvaged automobile windshields in the garage at MINT — a former meat-processing plant turned artist-run space. A re-edit of JG Ballard’s Crash! and Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy is projected onto the 8.5ft x 18ft ‘screen.’ Part of a compilation of expanded cinema work (with Always Nowhere and Redux) that uses the car as narrative structure, keeping in mind the relationship between auto body and body.”