May 2013, Secret Cinema, London
Theatrical producers Secret Cinema take over strange locations and create transient, grand-scale celebrations of treasured films. Carpenters build replica sets, actors recreate scenes, artists craft installations.
In May 2013 they transformed a 14-storey office block in South London into the dystopian world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. For five weeks, the Delta Point building in Croydon became the headquarters for G.O.O.D. – the Government Office Of Data – an all-seeing all-knowing corporate conglomerate. Instructed to arrive in office attire, assume their assigned roles and take part in the action, the audience plays a key part in bringing the film to life.
Working with microbiologists, hazard specialists, plastic surgeons, psychiatrists, zoologists and botanists – plus feminist activists, actors and designers – Guerilla Science created a range of activities to crank all the levels to red. In the basement, audience members were costumed in real hazmat gear to scour for signs of nuclear, chemical and biological contamination. Nearby, guided tours saw UV-reflective scorpions, glowing bacteria, racing cockroaches and mutant pigeons on ‘Nature Safari Tours’.
Upstairs, an ‘Atomic Garden’ of mutant plants forged with nuclear energy – including Star Ruby grapefruit and Todd Mitcham’s peppermint – blossomed with breeds created in the atomic age. With real pig skin and suturing kits, students assigned to ‘Plastic Surgery School’ learned how to perform Z-plasty stitches. Next door, shoppers could survey a catalogue of “designer vaginas” in the ‘Curtains of Love’, a sultry silken shrine to the vulva. And upstairs, we built a winding wooden ‘Dream Maze’ of test tubes where curious guests could explore and reflect on the neuroscience of sleeping visions.