Russell Phillips Statement

Artist Statement
The interior views in this series represent movie theaters from the 1920's and 1930's. As an American architectural development its uniqueness can be attributed to the film production it presented and the audience it sought to entertain. In its hey day the masses were escaping into a fantasy of Persian courts, Egyptian temples, seafaring towns with mermaids, or Aztec and Mayan ruins. These houses of fantasy were scattered throughout our cities and could be found in most small towns. They were as abundant as houses of worship and often regarded with equal stature. George L. Rapp, one of Chicago's prominent theater architects, believed the movie house was a "shrine to democracy...where the wealthy rub elbows with the poor..."

As much as I respect the historic value of the vintage movie theater, my initial attraction was not to just document for preservation. As well, I have an interest in how the application of color defines our perceptions of place. My response of fascination and seduction to these interiors is not unlike that of its original audience. There is an uninhibited use of color and ornamentation that reflects an age of optimism. The inclusion of vending machines, candy counters and posters, all of which have their own vintage place and chromogenic ambitions, contribute to this seductive atmosphere.

These nineteen images, taken from a collection of over seventy photographs, are a result of four years of pursuing all theaters that would provide me access. They are all in the Chicago area, many having been razed, abandoned, or split up into smaller spaces. In many cases these photographs are the only color document of these unique interiors.

Process Statement
All images are exposed on 4x5 color transparency film. Film is scanned, managed in Photoshop, and printed on an Epson 7600 printer with Ultrachrome Ink.

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