Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Alhambra theater becomes an art installation for one night.

Photo: Minoosh Zomorodinia

I may be one of the few left who remembers the glory days of the Alhambra Theater, a Polk Street movie theater patterned after the Moorish palace in Spain. At one time, SF had a couple of these and the decor was often more mesmerizing that whatever movie was playing at the time.You paid a small fee, got your popcorn and were transported to the world of cinema, enhanced by your glorious surroundings.

But the days of the movie palaces passed and first the theater poorly divided into two theaters, where you could hear the sound track bleed through the cheap dry wall dividing what had been a commodious space. Then it became a gym which seems to be what happens to these beautiful old spaces these days when they can't be turned into expensive condos.

For for one night, thanks to curators Lynn Marie Kirby and Christoph Steger, both professors of fine art at the California College of the Arts, the space will be used for a video intervention and performance. They won't be showing movies from Hollywood's heyday but a 15-minute video, excerpts from movies shown there between the Alhambra’s grand opening in 1926 and its closing in 1996.

The public is invited to help activate the project by partaking in choreographed movements based on the films

Or stand still and watch a cycle of six videos. “The project celebrates cinema and exercise in the Alhambra Theater,” says Kirby.

Another part of the project is a neighborhood video tour with 17 stops accessed by a mobile app put together by Sam Elie.

“The Alhambra Project”: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30. Free. Alhambra Theater/Crunch Gym, 2330 Polk St., S.F.

History of the Alhambra Theater

San Francisco Landmark:

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