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Secret Mall Apartment – Hot Docs 2024

Secret Mall Apartment Hot Docs 2024
A highly entertaining document of an art project that went way farther than it should.

Secret Mall Apartment – Hot Docs 2024

Runtime: 01:31
Synopsis:
In 2003, eight Rhode Islanders created a secret apartment inside a busy mall and lived there for four years, filming everything along the way. Far more than a prank, the secret apartment became a deeply meaningful place for all involved.

Table of Contents

In 2003, a group of 8 artists lived in an underutilized space in a Providence, Road Island mall in . The Providence Place Pall was built in the late-1990s as part of a revitalization effort for the city. A consequence of this gentrification was the demolition of Fort Thunder, an old mill building occupied by local artists, such as Michael Townsend. Townsend along with his then-wife Adriana Valdez Young and 6 fellow artists decide to start a personal project about living in the mall. Finding an unoccupied loft space within the walls, the artists spend the next four years developing the 750-square-foot space into an apartment.

Secret Mall Apartment Synopsis

Secret Mall Apartment is a documentary directed by Jeremy Workman (The World Before Your Feet) about an ambitious, and highly illegal, 2003-2007 art project. Led by Michael Townsend, founder of the Tape Art movement, the development of this secret apartment was documented using a Pentax Optio S5i point-and-click camera, with the film also featuring reenactments shot on a soundstage recreation. While the Mall Project was going on, this group of artists was also planning other works, such as the Hope Project, in memory of the victims of 9/11.

My Thoughts on Secret Mall Apartment

Apart from the fact that Secret Mall Apartment unintentionally recreates the premise of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, minus the zombies of course, the film is ultimately more about the blurred lines between life and art. In many ways, this secret apartment was Michael Townsend's way of protesting the loss of his workspace to the development that began with the Providence Place Mall. The result is a highly entertaining document of an art project that went way farther than it should.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.