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Nocturama Haunts The Logan Square Comfort Station Next Week

By Julia Weeman in Arts & Entertainment on May 27, 2012 9:00PM

2012_05_27_nocturama.jpg Chicago-based filmmaker Melika Bass will transform the Logan Square Comfort Station building with a site-specific video installation titled Nocturama. "My films usually utilize a sense of place to convey possible histories, so here was an opportunity to use a real physical place, haunt it with moving images, and have the viewers physically place themselves in the position of viewers at random moments," said Bass of the work.

Bass shared that she was excited by the "inversion of the theatrical movie-going experience" and the opportunity to use the architecture of the space as part of the work. "As my films tend to invoke a kind of hyper-sensory experience in the frame of the screen, here instead I get to make the physical experience real; in the theatre sensations like touch or smell are ephemeral and illusory, while viewers accept the images as a kind of reality. Here the opposite happens, and the viewing experience is physicalized and the images themselves are ephemeral and unreachable because they are locked inside the space," said Bass.

Bass responded to the historical significance of the building; of 11 Comfort Stations in Chicago, it is the last surviving one. "In the sense that it was once and is now a public building, but that its historical use was individual, bodily, and in a subtle way personal or private, I wanted to explore this mixing of the public and private bodies or selves," said Bass.

In Nocturama, the building is haunted by three projections of a single figure which the artist describes as "like moving paintings or photographs that are slightly oblong in shape, to suggest a kind of soft portal in the wall. The three moving ghost-like images form a kind of constellation in the building—appearing on separate walls and viewable from different windows by walking around the building." This puts the viewer in a voyeuristic space, discovering and confronting the images as they watch and try to understand the stranger inside the building. The character is intentionally ambiguous in appearance, invoking curiosity and allowing the public to openly interpret what they are seeing. This makes the work not only about the expectations of the voyeur, but about the vulnerability of that which is being watched.

The opening for Nocturama is Saturday June 2 from 8-10 p.m. at Comfort Station located at 2579 North Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square. Projections will run through July 15, every Friday through Tuesday from sundown to sunup, with the exception of June 8 and July 13.