Peephole Cinema just might be New York City’s smallest cinema, located on an unassuming block in Bushwick, Brooklyn on the ground floor of a condo. Hiding in plain sight, the tiny movie theater showcases beautiful short films 24 hours a day, functioning as a creative reminder to slow down and observe the unusual.
One major catch: this tiny movie theater is not indoors and there’s nowhere to sit. Peer into the peephole in the frosted glass window, and you will see a series of short, experimental silent films. The door shows the name “Mr. Manual Wilson, Bureau of Deacceleration” – a subtle call to slow down your pace. The concept, which is also in Los Angeles and San Francisco, was created in 2013 by artist Laurie O’Brien, with a goal of showcasing short films that would otherwise have not been seen by the general public. The peephole style of viewing is meant to capture the viewer’s attention and serve as a commentary on voyeurism and privacy.
The peephole is “dime sized” and plainly marked.
Peephole Cinema’s discreet nature contrasts sharply with the large and showcase-like street art that has come to define the Bushwick neighborhood. The current film showing is called Gif Flicks, curated by GIPHY Arts and featuring four shorts, each created by a different artist. It can be seen from April 12th until June 28th, 2019, 24 hours a day. The shorts are designed to flow in a dream-like motion, each having its own different narrative yet connecting in a way that feels genuine and relevant.
A small and plain piece of paper gives the names of the films and the artists.
O’Brien tells Gothamist that her motive is to bring short films and animated films to a wider audience. She has also been pondering the format for today’s modes of consumption: “I’m interested in this idea of short attention spans, which seemed fitting for New Yorkers. We went from [watching films] in a movie theater to viewing films on small devices like phones.” She also tells the publication that it took her three years to find the perfect location – a place without metal grates that is viewable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Artist Rebekka Dunlap’s short film, Pink Fever.
The peep show can be traced back to the 1400s but its modern iteration is probably most associated with a grittier Times Square, the subject of the HBO series The Deuce. One of the earliest peep shows, shown in the television series located in a video rental and bookstore, is possibly modeled after Carpel Books, which was at 259 West 42nd Street. The Peephole Cinema is of a different nature, with far more “PG” material, but explores the peep shows at their root: a device for entertainment.
Small pieces of paper in the style of a museum exhibition plaque show the project’s details.
Peephole Cinema’s Brooklyn location can be found at 97 Wilson Avenue, between Troutman and Starr streets in Bushwick.
Next, check out 18 Must Visit Places in Bushwick.