Hybrid Modernism. Movie Theatres in South India.
HAUBITZ + ZOCHENew Theatres is emblazoned in large letters on the cinema building, whose facade suggests a collage of various materials and forms in the style of the late 1950s, while a spacious car park in front of the cinema waits for visitors.
The series Hybrid Modernism. Movie Theatres in South India examines the reception and re-interpretation of western architectural influences in South India. Haubitz and Zoche’s wonted sensitive approach and sharp observation disclose the aesthetic quality of these extraordinary buildings.
Cinema and the world of film have been a relevant factor and social indicator within Indian culture and not just since the Bollywood boom of recent years. This is seen in many film theatres, built as early as the 1950s and into the 1970s, whose architecture is based on a singular, irritating mixture of western influences and local construction styles. The reception of modernistic architecture was substantially inspired by Le Corbusier’s building projects in India in the ’50s and is also reflected in the buildings of local architects. This influence is clearly evident in South Indian cinema buildings, but is also punctuated by elements that from a western perspective would count as anti-modernistic.
They derive in equal measure from traditional Indian architecture and the influential Art Déco. In brief: in Indian cinema buildings we find a culturally influenced re-interpretation of modern construction style that is not only characterised by the hybridism described above, but also by a markedly set-like impression on the part of the architecture itself. These facades often seem like mock-ups attached to the body of the building.
In this way, the function of the set, which determines cinema, and the concomitant process of immersion that is so relevant to filmic presentation – are both brought to bear even outside the theatre.
This remarkable intensification of the building’s function continues inside the building. Here, too, one often encounters extravagant sculptural forms and ornaments, which transpose the visitor into a stage-like atmosphere, thereby priming him for the coming cinema experience.
In a country like India, which produces about 1200 films in 24 languages annually, the world of cinema leaves its traces everywhere. The large-format photos that capture the ephemerality of film posters in their urban context highlight the interpenetration of cinematic reality and that of everyday life.
Homi Bhabha has coined the term hybridity, which is of central importance for the post-colonial theories of recent decades. “For me the importance of hybridity is the third space that enables other positions to emerge. (…) The process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation.” (Homi Bhabha, 1990 in an interview)
In his main work, The location of culture (1984) Bhabha describes the emergence of the third space from the conscious and unconscious appropriation of signs and symbols of the colonising culture, and their integration into the indigenous system of signs. A hybrid third space emerges between the cultures, which enables critical distance.
With their series Hybrid Modernism. Movie Theaters in South India, the artist duo Haubitz + Zoche succeed in locating themselves within the current discourse on post-colonial theories. Their photographs give a visual form to complex cultural processes.
The photographs in this exhibition were taken between 2010 – 2013. A publication is in preparation.
The artists Sabine Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche have collaborated since 1998 and position themselves under the name Haubitz + Zoche in international artistic practice with their photographic and installative works.
Sabine Haubitz suffered a fatal accident in March 2014. Stefanie Zoche will continue the work that bears the signature of the two artists in both their names.
The current exhibition moved from Munich to Goa, and will travel to Chennai from Bangalore. The photos were also presented in Thiruvananthapuram at the International Film Festival of Kerala 2013.