Bike-in Cinema brings contemporary art and film outdoors

By Liv Ingram

More memory than reality, drive-in cinemas are largely a thing of the past — their grainy projections and crackly car-stereo delivered sound long replaced by HD projectors and surround sound.

But TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary is modernizing the drive-in with their Bike-in Cinema film series. Returning for its third year, Bike-in Cinema encourages moviegoers to trade four wheels for two and enjoy an evening of cycling and outdoor film.

TRUCK is a non-profit, artist-run centre dedicated to the production and public presentation of contemporary art. One vehicle for this presentation is, quite literally, a vehicle.

TRUCK’s CAMPER (Contemporary Art Mobile Public Exhibition Rig) is a 1975 Dodge motorhome that doubles as a multi-use exhibition and project space. In

collaboration with Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF), TRUCK will use the motorhome as a projection screen to present films in a casual, outdoor atmosphere.

“Some people make an evening out of going to the movies, but it’s definitely more common for almost everyone to make an evening out of a Bike-in Cinema event — you plan your picnic, go to [the screening] and stick around before and after, whereas when you go see a movie and it’s done, you go home,” says TRUCK programming coordinator and
CAMPER driver Jeremy Pavka.

CAMPER’s mandate is to encourage community engagement with contemporary art. The Bike-in Cinema series does this by encouraging exploration of urban outdoor spaces and art in a way that is inclusive and accessible.

“We’re hoping that people who have never been to an art gallery come to Bike-in Cinema and have an easier access point to see that contemporary art is a bunch of things — and not just some tipped over whatever that I don’t understand with some spray paint on it,” Pavka says.

This installment of Bike-in Cinema will feature the full-length film A Spell To Ward off The Darkness by directors Ben Rivers and Ben Russel, as well as the short film School of Athens by Saskatoon-based filmmaker Allysha Larsen.

The films are experimental and will be a “contemplative, psychedelic experience,” says CSIF communications director Nicola Waugh.

“CSIF is really trying to open up those boundaries between visual art and film,” Waugh says.

CAMPER will also travel to Banff for an outdoor screening series in collaboration with the Banff Centre and then to Lethbridge for a lecture series presented in conjunction with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Pavka says that although CAMPER is a mobile movie projector, there are no plans to take it out of Alberta or on a cross-country tour just yet.

“I think we’ll have to get a new one if we want to do that,” says Pavka. “It definitely shows a video better than it shows it’s power up a hill.”

CAMPER rolls into Riley Park on Tuesday, July 22 at 9:00 p.m. After stops in Banff and Lethbridge, it returns to Calgary on Aug. 29 in collaboration with Quickdraw Animation Society.

Bike-in Cinema is a free and all-ages event. Snacks and drinks will be available by donation.

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