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Tales of Two Cinemas: “The Colour of the Cosmos“
Thursday 16 November 2017
The cinema theatres, Attikon, in Pafos and Kino Cosmos, in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), share common memories and stories from the past, as well as their future challenges. The European Capitals of Culture Pafos2017 and Plovdiv 2019 meet, with the two cinemas at the heart of this encounter, and share the tales of the cinema theatres, as well as, the cities themselves, while examining their prospects, their current fate and their future challenges.
The European Capital of Culture provided the opportunity and possibility for the two cinemas to be re-integrated into the life of their respective cities, in different ways. Victor Yankov, a representative from Plovdiv 2019, will present the case study “Cosmos Case – saving the Cosmos cinema.” recognized as best practice in local government reform by the Council of Europe.
The French artist Maxime Bondu and the French/Bulgarian curator Émile Ouroumov will introduce the “The Colour of the Cosmos” exhibition, which took place in the cinema in 2016.
The presentation and discussion will be held in English
Hospitality Sponsor: Aliathon Holiday Village
“The Colour of the Cosmos” project presentation
Built in 1964 in Plovdiv during Bulgaria’s alignment with the Soviet Union as part of the Eastern Bloc, the Kino Cosmos was initially known as the Kino Komsomol (Cinema of the Union of Communist Youth). It was for a period the largest cinema theatre in Bulgaria. After 1989, its activities declined and finally the cinema closed its doors in 1999. It was the site of 35 years of projection of films and ideology and is thus a reflection of the political and social history of the country before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The modernist and rationalist building (architect: Lyubomir Shinkov), expresses both monumentality and an idea of the future contained in the former Eastern bloc.
Shown in the cinema itself after a preliminary presentation in an art space in Geneva (Switzerland), the 2016 exhibition “La couleur du Cosmos” [The Colour of the Cosmos] was a quest focused on the building and the ideology of the Cosmos. Following extensive on-site research in 2015 including a workshop and a public “call for memories” directed towards the inhabitants of the city, Maxime Bondu developed a series of artworks and specific interventions which echo his line of research. The French artist’s practice often involves speculation based on confirmed data in the present, past or anticipated in the future. Made of reconstructions and simulacra, his work is an invitation to grasp this element of relentless uncertainty, which is part and parcel of our reality.
In this exhibition, Maxime Bondu, accompanied by the curator Émile Ouroumov, wandered among possible images of the Cosmos. In search of the invisible, he found traces in a few fragments of paint fallen from the ceiling, in the cobwebs in the flooded basement, in a programme stained with ink and also in his attempts at deducing the persistent colour of the screen, that is to say the dominant colour achieved by superimposing each photogram of each of the hundreds of films shown during the cinema’s existence. He endeavoured “deciphering” the existing broken-up neon sign on the front façade, intervening in the archive of the cinema’s accounting inventory, as well as genetically modifying a flower of the “Cosmos” species in order for it to be coloured with the “Colour of the Cosmos”.
He worked with the IT specialist Julien Griffit to have the films analysed by an algorithm developed for the occasion. After two weeks of calculation, a server network returned the reference #282320, a hexadecimal code specifying a colour. Transferred to 35mm cinema film and shown in a loop, it was found to be extremely difficult to project because of its dark shade.
An upcoming publication inspired by the project and including “Operation Technicolor”, a semi-fictional film script by Émile Ouroumov, is being planned.
**The exhibition was initiated as part of NIGHT/Plovdiv 2016. It was produced by Open Arts Foundation thanks to the support of the Institut Français de Bulgarie and the National Culture Fund.