diana shpungin & nicole engelmann
theatre 3, 2002
continuous loop dvd

theatre, 2002
still image from part one, continuous loop video
dimensions vary

In the Theater Series, two women sit side by side in an empty movie theater. The theater is comprised of luxurious red leather seats. The juxtaposition of the seats with the women’s gray uniforms makes the women appear superimposed against the setting. In each of the three segments the relationship between the two women remains ambiguous. As well, it is never revealed why the women are alone in the theater together and what they are watching, if anything. The lack of disclosure creates a tension between the subject and the viewer. Theater Part One, Two and Three act as sequels. Their order is not necessarily fixed and the narrative not necessarily linear.

Theater Part One 2002
In Part One, the two women sit in silence with bored and emotionless expressions. They face the screen as if they are watching a movie, but in reality they are facing the camera. Captured through the lens, the women become subjects of the viewer’s gaze. It is unclear who is watching whom. Both the women and the viewer’s roles become interchangeable.
The women are waiting for something’s completion, but the continuous loop never makes this possible. Similarly, this mirrors the viewer’s desire for the video’s ending. The often-tedious task of watching narrative video is accentuated by the loop. Part One, physically becomes the movie that never ends.

Theater Part Two 2002
In Part Two, the blonde and brunette whisper into each other’s ear. The repeated loop allows the women to endlessly share secrets. The silence conceals their conversation from the viewer. The women’s behavior excludes and distances the viewer from their clique.

Theater Part Three 2002
In Part Three, the women nudge each other’s elbows back and forth over their shared armrest. The women calmly compete over a petty inch. This passive aggressive activity is common, but an unspoken contest, leading to annoyance and frustration. The women’s relationship is undefined. Sitting alone side by side in an empty theater their arms move back and forth rigorously. The women’s hands are not visible so the action becomes partially concealed. The situation is both ambiguous and suggestive of other risqué possibilities.
The loop accentuates the monotony of the activity and its comical nature. There is no winner or looser, climax or pleasure.

all images © Diana Shpungin & Nicole Engelmann 2000-2007