Book Review: Film Forum Under Construction 2018

Book Review: Film Forum Under Construction 2018

“Accidental Composition” Included in  Film Forum Under Construction 2018.  ©Jan Staller

“Accidental Composition” Included in Film Forum Under Construction 2018. ©Jan Staller

By Mariah McCloskey

A lone flashlight shines upwards illuminating the exposed wires hanging from the ceiling. Jan Staller, the photographer behind the image, captures the renovation of Film Forum, an independent film theatre. With only 500 copies in circulation, Film Forum Under Construction 2018, reveals the theater’s architectural transformation. Staller’s photographs bring a new light to the construction materials, each image both lively and inviting.

Film Forum’s dream of a fourth screen in their small three-screen-theater presented a need for renovation. During the creation, Staller was called in to document the process. Staller’s careful eye transforms scenes of wood, concrete, and wire into elegant images. The remodeling is presented as more than just an improvement on an old building, but as a story of the birth of the fourth screen through Staller’s images.

“Plywood and Morter” Included in  Film Forum Under Construction 2018.  ©Jan Staller

“Plywood and Morter” Included in Film Forum Under Construction 2018. ©Jan Staller

“Egress” Included in  Film Forum Under Construction 2018.  ©Jan Staller

“Egress” Included in Film Forum Under Construction 2018. ©Jan Staller

His abstract photos display the progression of the fourth screen’s development. We are able to follow the journey of the renovation as Staller presents still-lifes of the construction. Through simple chairs, Staller presents their progress as the progress of the theater. He photographs their birth out of raw materials; a row of chairs without backs, casting a dark shadow behind them. Adjacent to the first image we see the chairs again, this time lined up like school children with plastic covers lying across each row, that protect them from harm.

Staller exhibits the construction site as an enchanting world--a world of texture within the wired, rusted grates displaying the useless metal’s twists and turns into a maze. Bright color is brought forth from the walls that are not yet covered by stark white paint, letting dark greys and blues peek out. There lies a curiosity behind each still

Stealing into a dark room, we see the negatives from a section of a film lazily hanging from above. A place that would be off-limits to the public, the room now containing rubble and stray parts are presented by Staller as pieces in an imaginative landscape. Staller brings the last photo of the progress of the chairs to an end by showing us the blueprint of the chairs. The blueprint casually draped over the seats, mirrors the rows of chairs standing at attention within the auditorium. Appearing strong and statuesque, they are the last stage of construction for the screen room.

At the end of the book, Staller leaves us with a captivating image of the finished theater. Taken from the back of the theater, we see the tops of the chairs lightly illuminated by a large surface in the center of the photo: the fourth screen room has finally come to its realization, and Staller lets us witness its creation with him.

Jan Staller is currently exhibited at AIPAD Photography Show at Pier 94, New York from April 4-7.

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