ABC Cinema

Exhibition view at ABC Cinema, Liverpool Biennial 2016. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Exhibition view at ABC Cinema, Liverpool Biennial 2016. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Liverpool’s former ABC Cinema is a Grade II listed building in the Art Deco style, situated on Lime Street and Elliot Street. It first opened its doors to the public in 1931. The last film shown there, in 1998, was Casablanca. As part of the Children’s Episode, Samson Kambalu invited a group of children to imagine this film’s content. The experiment is part of Kambalu’s concept of ‘Nyau Cinema’, in which the artist uses the medium of film, combined with specific characteristics of place, to subvert the conventions and limitations of everyday life.

Fabien Giraud and Raphaël Siboni’s film series The Unmanned recounts a history of technology in reverse. The Unmanned includes an account of the Earth’s dismantling in 7242, the discovery of California by conquistadors in 1542, and, in 2045, the moment at which machine intelligence overtakes human intelligence. The most recent episode, 1922 – The Uncomputable, which reflects on Lewis Fry Richardson’s attempt to build a huge weather-forecast factory, has been commissioned for this year’s Biennial as part of the Flashback episode. Every Tuesday, The Unmanned series plays in its entirety.

When the films stop playing, the ABC Cinema undergoes a transformation. Marcos Lutyens’ voice permeates the space, and sculptures by Lara Favaretto, Oliver Laric and Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian emerge from the Chinatown episode.

Acquired by ABC cinema group in 1930, the building opened in 1931. Known as one of the finest cinemas of the era, ABC Cinema’s grand interior is said to remain one of designer William R. Glen’s best. It closed on 28 January 1998.