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The History of the Colosseum Project

The Colosseum Theatre was built in the 19th century as a theatre and music hall. It was the first silent film cinema in London, but closed in the 1960's. It has been boarded up since then, its glorious Victorian interior crumbling to dust. The Colosseum Project used the Old Colosseum as an exhibition space for film and video, circus performance, painting, photography, sculpture, installation art and much more...

Colosseum I (October 1997) ... Projections filled the cavernous space with light and colour, as trapeze artists hung from the skeletal remains of the domed ceiling... Sculptures lurked in mysterious places, paintings, installations and photographs hung on cracked walls and mirrors ...

Cabaret featured the Tiger Lillies, Evil Moisture, Marisa Carnesky of the Dragon Ladies Grotesque Burlesque Revue, Starkstrom, Natasha Mayran, BingoThis Way Up, Licky, Moses Man In The Air, Bryony, Phil Dirtbox and The Sleazy Berlin Cabaret, compered by Jason Royce.

Cinema by the Colosseum Project and Exploding Cinema, featuring work by Charo Corrales, Duncan Reekie, Michelle Carlile, Emma Hetherington, Jean-Marc Teychenne, Arthur Lager, Nam Guy Kim, Mark Downie, Derek Hart, Simon Hyde, Mark Hamilton, George Butler and Pravin Permaul.
Gallery by Nicoela Green and Jairo Zaldua, Caia, Jason Royce, Liliana Klimova, Jean-Marc Teychenne, Valentina Floris, Gillian McIver, Stephanie Crouail, Sandrine Albert, Chris Singer, Jeff Brown, Charo Corrales.

Colosseum II (November - December 1997) featured gallery work by Nicoela Green and Jairo Zaldua, Caia, Sandrine Albert, Michael Park and Stephanie Mas, Gillian McIver, Valentina Floris, Chris Singer, Charo Corrales, Disco Kid TeeVee, Jo Vox, Evil Moisture, Claudine Schaeffer-Legrand, Tracy Brown.

Shortly after the second Colosseum exhibition, Hackney Council put into action plans to pull the building down and convert the site into a shopping centre, car park and multiplex cinema. Sadly, almost all of the old theatres in this area - which boasted the highest concentration of theatres in London, many of them gorgeous - have been torn down or boarded up.

In May 1998, The Colosseum Project's gallery show for the Whitechapel Open took place in a former ironworks, and was a subversive and sometimes shocking contribution to the Whitechapel Gallery's programme. The participating artists were Valentina Floris, Gillian McIver, Chris Singer, Sandrine Albert, Caia, Michael Park, Tim Mould, Disco Kid Tee Vee.

Colosseum IV: from 15 - 24 October 1998 The Colosseum Project created an event in a disused bank in Shoreditch, London. A derelict, empty area, it is nevertheless only moments away from the vast shining temples of Mammon in the City of London, a City that is steadily encroaching on the artists1 strongholds of Spitalfields, Shoreditch and Hackney. The art hanging on the walls of offices and banks in the City of London is corporate art: smooth, passionless, un-challenging. In a fitting reversal of uses we transformed this bank space into a dark, underground, exciting gallery of the most passionate and avant-garde art that is being produced today.

The last Colosseum Project show was in 1999, at the House of Detention in London's Clerkenwell district. This 17th century underground prison had been closed since the end of the 19th century but in its day housed many famous felons, highwayment etc. Each artist was given a prison cell to exhibit installation, durational performance, video, painting etc. by Gillian McIver, Valentina Floris, Sandrine Albert, Julian Ronnefeldt, Chris Singer, Mark Video, Michael Park, Juana Serrat, David Remondo, Stelio Stylianou. Evening performances by Natasha Mayran, Marissa Carnesky, Adrian Palka and others.

At the beginning of 2000 the Colosseum Project artists relaunched themselves as Luna Nera, continuing the project of site-responsive/site-specific art in disused urban spaces.

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