Photographs by Richard Thieler
In the gallery’s Schaulager
25th February to 21st March 2020
For the 70th Berlinale, Galerie Poll is showing cinema photographs by Richard Thieler in its Schaulager. Under the title Cinémas perdus, the gallery will present its second solo exhibition of works by Thieler, who was born in Berlin in 1963, bringing together around thirty colour photographs of abandoned cinemas from Germany, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Czech Republic and the United States made between 2011 and 2019.
Thieler photographed the Lido cinema in Brunswick, Germany, in 2018. The photograph serves as the motif for the exhibition’s invitation card and poster. The Lido was opened in 1958 in a former air-raid shelter opposite the city’s main railway station. At the time, there were twenty-one cinemas in Brunswick. The Lido has been closed since 1984, and today the building houses a discotheque. In 2020, Brunswick still has two multiplexes, a cinema run by a student association and two seasonal film screening locations in Brunswick Palace and the Audimax of the Technical University. This decline is exemplary for the worldwide loss of cinemas, which began in the late 1950s with the arrival of the television set in households and is now being driven by video, DVD, special-interest TV channels and Internet services such as Netflix.
The photographer usually approaches the cinemas he photographs from the front, showing either the entire building in a frontal view or an architecturally characteristic section of the facade. In any case, Thieler makes sure that the cinema’s name always remains visible. This consistent composition allows him to emphasize the formal similarities of cinema architectures that are located geographically far apart, and a comparative view produces a special tension in this photo series.
In the meantime, Thieler has photographed around 600 cinemas worldwide—open and closed, by day and by night—and has presented them in solo and thematic exhibitions in Berlin and elsewhere, including in 2017 at the Kunsthalle Erfurt. Over the past eleven years, he has created a unique cultural-sociological and architectural-historical documentation of cinemas. The photographs contain details such as film posters, billboards, or graffiti, as well as depictions of everyday life around the cinemas as places where people come together in public. Since every viewer brings their own story to a cinema, Thieler succeeds in evoking personal memories with his photographs and thus capturing the cinema’s magic.