According to legend, one used to be able to drive one’s car to a place called a “drive-in”, at which it was apparently possible to watch a film – from the comfort of said car. This “drive-in” myth has always appealed to me – be it cool kid nostalgia, or an intrinsic fear of being out in the open. The mobile cinema project seems (to me at least) to owe a nod to the drive in model. Drive-in’s are great because they make something which is fundamentally anti-social escapism into communal social fun time (and because most cars have back seats). Getting art out of galleries is part of Mixtape’s mission, alongside more (more generally) using strategies of production/display which are as interesting as the production on display.
“Video art is a stillborn medium” according to Linda, quoting Will Self. People don’t watch video art in galleries. Whatever the multitude of reasons there are for this, an interesting consideration is the tension between video art and conventional film or t.v. People see moving images on screens and expect entertainment – and most video art is (in t.v. terms) really boring. It’s not altogether surprising that it is said that the average time spent viewing a video in a gallery is eight seconds. The mobile cinema works so well with that tension. It is, in itself, a kind of inversion of the conventional cinema drive-in – and, by its likeness to that conventional cinema idea: and inversion of the gallery’s way of dealing with video. Galleries insist that video art is not film, is not entertaining – which is often misunderstood as ‘not worth watching’.
The Mobile Cinema truck was parked outside The Rat& Parrot on Wednesday evening, during the Ghana-Germany game – and still it drew a crowd. Consider for a moment the insurmountable odds which this event overcame. People don’t watch video art at gallery openings; when they’re inside, swimming in free wine and have nothing better to do. Anything which can get people outside in the evening in Grahamstown is doing something right, let alone when less than ten steps from warm boozy soccer. A pair of astute critics standing behind me left halfway through Tim Leibbrandt’s piece with a disgruntled exclamation of “No man, I thought it was the new 300 trailer…”, which is something I hadn’t considered. One always learns so much when work is introduced into the public sphere.
The work will be on the streets of Grahamstown again on the 27th, 29th and finally on the 2nd.at the Mixtape party in the egazini cultural center in extension 9. Featured artist include: Andrew Putter, Charles Maggs, Robert Sloon, Ed Young, Lizza Littlewort, John Nankin, Gerald Machona, and Dan Halter.