In a new installation for the Modern Wing, Margaret Honda works with sunlight, existing architecture, and the viewer’s presence to reconfigure standard elements of film projection.
Extending the length of the Griffin Court skylight—nearly 300 feet from the front door to the newly reopened Modern Café—the work is composed of differently colored film gels, one for each of the skylight’s 126 glass panes. Identical in size, the gels function as film frames, and each side of the skylight forms a reel of film. Instead of a projector, the sun provides light while museum visitors lend motion to the work, frame by frame, as they pass through the space. Double Feature with Short Subject marks the sixth iteration of a work by Honda titled Film, ongoing since 2016. Honda is interested in the materials and mechanics of analog motion picture production rather than its capacity for telling stories, and she uses existing structures and environmental conditions as the basis for her interventions. In her Film series she works with cinema lighting gels, which come in manufactured sets in a range of colors and tones and typically serve to adjust the color temperature of a given scene. Honda always uses a full set of gels on all available windows. In this case, she is able for the first time to include multiple gel sets, thus offering two “feature films” as well as one “short.”
Moviegoers typically sit still, in the dark, and watch a single film from beginning to end. Here, the viewers are in motion, the space itself is full of light, and three films can be viewed more or less at once—forwards or backwards. For the nearly four months it remains on view, Double Feature with Short Subject will change in appearance constantly as the weather shifts, the earth turns, and summer fades into fall. The full duration of the installation functions as an extended single screening, open-ended and unrepeatable.
Double Feature with Short Subject is curated by Matthew S. Witkovsky, Richard and Ellen Sandor Chair and Curator, Photography and Media, and Vice President for Strategic Art Initiatives.