A Violent Silent Movie Without Camera (Cinema Opacity)

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Our apartment is more or less in the middle of Gleimstraße. For a long time, two cinemas flanked the street: The Flohkino in Wedding (which was destroyed in an air raid in 1945) and the Colosseum in Prenzlauer Berg (which filed for bankruptcy in May 2020). In a sociological study on the history of Gleimstraße and those cinemas, theater scholar Heike Stange writes that “the expectation that what is essential about going to the movies is the movies (...) quickly turns out to be a mistake when evaluating the interviews.” The Gleimstraße residents interviewed seem to remember more clearly with whom they went to one of these cinemas, what they were wearing, for what occasion they went …

Our contribution to Die Balkone 2021 was steeped in the existence and loss of these cinemas and our longstanding use of rear projection screens as projection surfaces and as material for banners. Rear-screen projection material was primarily used by the analog film industry to enable closeups of actors during dramatic action scenes. The rear projection screen held the image—of a location, landscape, or cityscape—that served as a background for filming the action in the studio; the recorded image places the bodies in an overlap of time and space. For years we have been exploring how this material places the projected image in relation to the bodies, watching them and the architecture in which they find themselves.

After more than a year of self-conscious, vulnerable, and ubiquitous video conferencing, after more than a year of Discoteca Flaming Star feeling like a wounded collective, we used a rear screen to completely close our loggia toward the Gleimstraße, just as one closes the eye with the eyelid. A kind of membrane in which to hold our de-placed longings throughout the days, with the sun, in the darkness of the night, with film lights ... all in the dullness of the material.

The “home side” of this blunt dull lid membrane was broadcast live 24/7 to the video platform twitch for the duration of the exhibition


Historical image. 1920s
looking at the eyelid from outside
Fotos: Michael Ebert-Hanke
trees illuminated at night by the silent movie
looking at the eyelid from inside
Fotos: Sofia Lomba