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Art on the Underground: New cinema kiosk to arrive at Stratford Tube station
Bob and Roberta Smith, Who is Community? (2012). Courtesy Benedict Johnson.

LONDON.- The Stratford Cinema Kiosk, a new specially-designed structure modelled on an original 1920s ticket booth, will be showing a film called Who is Community? By artists Bob and Roberta Smith and Tim Newton from Wednesday 17 October at Stratford Tube station.

A fictional meeting and love affair on the Central line between the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, and German political theorist Hannah Arendt, is the basis for the short film and a series of images for Stratford Underground station by artist Bob and Roberta Smith and director Tim Newton.

Customers passing through the Tube station will be able to see the film on two small cinema-screens that have been incorporated into this heritage-style ticket booth, also known as a passimeter. Passimeters were introduced on the London Underground in the early part of the century.

The film can also be downloaded on smart phones by scanning a QR code on posters advertising the project across the Tube network, or from the Art on the Underground website. The images in the station are based on paintings by Bob and Roberta Smith that tell the story of the film, and have been on display for customers to enjoy since 15 May. In addition, life-size cut-outs of characters from the film have appeared around the Stratford neighbourhood, advertising the coming of the Stratford Cinema Kiosk.

Commissioned by Art on the Underground, Who is Community? is part of the Central line series, artworks that focus on the impact of human interaction on the Tube, both for the four million passengers that use it daily and for the London Underground staff.

“I want to explore why public space, like the Underground, and public celebrations, like the Olympics, are romantic, exciting and important to democratic life. Who is Community? makes a serious point about how to understand 'publicness' in a joyful, optimistic and playful way,” says Bob. The artist’s early works imagined fictional meetings between historical figures. The film is an animated version of that idea. His protagonists could never have met, yet share similar ideals about freedom being public, associative and participatory.

On October 17 2012 there will be a special launch at Stratford Theatre Royal to mark the installation of the Stratford Cinema Kiosk. The launch will include a live production of music from the film by Tim Newton.

Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art on the Underground, said: “I am thrilled that Art on the Underground has worked with Bob and Roberta Smith on such an ambitious and important film, the second he has made in collaboration with Tim Newton.

“In this crucial year for London, Bob and Roberta Smith has chosen to approach the present through the past, retelling the heritage of the Olympic games and positioning two of history’s great thinkers alongside one another. I hope this story offers passengers a moment of contemplation while travelling across the capital.”

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