Check out the courtyard of ul. Ruska 46 for a special project of the Art Scene of the 21st New Horizons International Film Festival. The Midnight Show is an exhibition-screening that starts punctually at midnight and ends at 1:00 AM, only to start again the next evening.
This is the fifth edition of the Midnight Show (the previous ones took place in 2013–2016) prepared by BWA Wrocław during the New Horizons festival. For nine evenings, exhibition screenings will begin when the last film screenings in the theaters end. The medium of this year’s edition is neon – a means of expression deeply rooted both in the cinematographic iconography and in the urban space creating the scenery of nightlife.
Midnight Show V: More Light! consists of two premiere productions designed by Monika Drożyńska and Michał Frydrych, which will see the light… of night in a neon-lit backyard located on ul. Ruska 46. This is where the outdoor Neon Side Gallery is located, displaying a large collection of historical Wrocław neon signs. Starting at midnight (for an hour) all the neons will be turned off and give way to the Midnight Show, composed of two neon installations. So, it can be said that it spans between turning the lights on and off, between the figures of knowledge and mystery, between enlightenment and its antithesis – entering the darkness, and also (in cinematographic language) between the opening and final credits, because the end of each performance is always an introduction to the next.
Neon leads us towards the landscape of modernity, pop culture, advertising and the society of the spectacle. It seduces with its decorative qualities and an appetizingly artificial aura. It is an urban mirage – and, at the same time, it has the potential of a persuasive message. It is related to cinema, which also oscillates between waking up and awakening the public to participate in public debates. We would like to emphasize this dual nature of the medium during the Midnight Show.
A neon show, like a film screening, needs darkness that it can illuminate. Following this path, we refer to the concept of enlightenment, with our title recalling the final words of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, “More light!” We repeat them at a time when the ideas of the Enlightenment, i.e., the conviction of reason’s privileged role in the cognitive processes or in societal organization and political discourse, sway under the pressure of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience and alternative facts. The victory of light is neither inevitable nor unequivocal – nor is the figure of Goethe, a man of the Enlightenment and at the same time a precursor of Romanticism. Even his final message is inscribed with ambivalence: the poet uttered these words on his deathbed, walking into the darkness. Some even say that he did not say “mehr Licht!” [more light] but “mehr nicht” [more nothing].
Held in the context of the festival, the Midnight Show was created as a platform for dialogue between the exhibition medium and the parameters that define the cinematographic experience. Editing, dramaturgy, sequence of events, projection, light, darkness and time are some of the tools and figures that we borrow from the world of cinematography to involve them in creating an exhibition-as-screening, film-without-film with artifacts starring in the leading roles. The fifth edition takes place between the flashback formula and the project sequel.