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Growing up in Delaware, Kendall Messick lived across the street from an old man named Gordon Brinckle who was enamored with the glitz and opulence of movie palaces. Brinckle worked as a projectionist his whole life and had always dreamed of buying a movie theater. That was impossible, so he built one in his basement, and it became the set for Messick’s series of portraits, “The Projectionist.” The tiny, homemade theater, which can seat only nine people, makes the elderly Brinckle look like a giant—when he sits on the stage, limbs sprawled, he fills the screen. Messick’s portraits give the impression of a life that, while uncelebrated, has been well-lived. The subject and setting can’t help but bring to mind Cinema Paradiso, and in an accompanying film, Brinckle gives a tour of his theater, charmingly pointing to his projectors and saying, “These are what I call ‘the girls.’” One of Messick’s photos, Homage to Sugimoto, echoes the other half of the exhibit, a collection of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs of glowing white movie screens. Though the screens look blank, they encompass an entire film—Sugimoto would set up his camera at the theater and leave the aperture open for the entire duration of the movie, resulting in the eerie, pale glow of drive-in and palace screens alike. Had it not been for these photos, we’d never have gotten Messick’s showstoppers. This show is part of Fotoweek DC, a citywide photography showcase; see fotoweekdc.com for more information.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. TUESDAY-SATURDAY TO SAT., DEC. 20, AT HEMPHILL FINE ARTS, 1515 14TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 234-5601.