Rialto, Pasadena, 1993

Photograph, 42 x 54 cm

As in other photographic series (portraits of wax museum figures, pictures of marine horizons, architecture or mathematical figures), Rialto, Pasadena forms part of a series, Theatres, which he began in 1976. For the realisation of this series, Sugimoto sought out old Art Deco theatres from the 1920s and thirties that were, even before they disappeared, being converted from theatrical use into cinemas. Among others he photographed the Arcadia theatre in Milan, the Rivoli, New York, the State Theatre, Sydney, the Cinema Rise, Tokyo, the Saint James in New Zealand, and the Rialto, Pasadena, near Los Angeles, California. Built in 1925 by Lewis A. Smith, in 1977 the theatre was declared a National Historic Monument.

Sugimoto sets up his camera in front of the cinema screen, also including in the frame details of the ceiling, the walls and the front row seats, which are always empty. The exposure lasts as long as the screening of the film, capturing all the light that emanates. The resulting photograph shows no concrete image but an exposure of pure light: the limits of light are at the same time the limits of the void. The glowing screen captured by Sugimoto’s camera condenses the act of projecting in the form of pure light itself. This is how the subject of the photograph focuses on the process of human perception: the intense beam in the form of a rectangular screen evokes the feeling of eyes adjusting to an empty room and, with them, the experience of the gaze.

Technical details

Original title:
Rialto, Pasadena
Registration number:
Sugimoto, Hiroshi
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Gelatin silver print
42 x 54 cm (height x width)
Edition number:
Ed. 1/25
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Long-term loan of Brondesbury Holdings Ltd.
© Hiroshi Sugimoto
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The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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