When I first came to Richmond, I felt a deep sadness. I had come from Sao Paulo and Richmond seemed very lonely, very empty. I couldn’t speak English and no one knew Portuguese. In Sao Paulo, when I felt lonely I went to the grand theaters of the old city center and enjoyed the intimacy of those spaces and the characters that inhabited them. So, of course, when I discovered the Byrd Theatre in Richmond I fell in love with it: the amazing architecture that referenced the Golden Age of cinema, the contrast of elegance and decadence in the ornate balcony, and the ability to share emotional moments with other human beings I didn’t know but with whom I could experience an ephemeral intimacy. I like to imagine, to re-create, in my mind the layers of history and the common joys, fears, hopes and love that have been experienced by viewers in that space over time.
I somehow think that the heart of Richmond is the Byrd Theatre. Not only because it is in the center of it all, but because there, like in no other place in Richmond, the many different social classes, the many races, the many immigrants, the many generations come together. All people are one in the old surprise of seeing the organist rise from the ground and play wonderfully before the movie.
I once installed a work in the Byrd Theatre for a brief time - a fast “flash installation” as I called it. It was a sculpture made of mesh iron and covered with fiber Insulation. “She” was called Althea Godal. She had a Facebook page and was friend of many people in Richmond - no one knew she was my project. No one even knew she was a sculpture. I guess they just assumed it to be an odd profile picture. I was investigating the “making of truth” in social media and the presence of humanity behind it. Althea was a very lonely character that had many “friends.” Her first post was about going to the Byrd Theater on the very first day of the year (alone) to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. The poetic space of the Byrd Theatre is one of my favorite places in Richmond.
Eva is a multimedia artist from Brazil. Her installation environments confront viewers with traumatic aspects of history and human experience that have been, directly or indirectly, denied through the repression of personal or collective archives. For more, http://www.evarocha.com.