At Home with the Ludskis – an artistic tribute to the Rio Cinema’s founder

At Home with the Ludskis - basim-magdy 009

Detail from a painting by Basim Magdy

Billed as an ‘avant-garde, plastic art, installation, live music, popcorn, intervention, painting, total art, post-contemporary, exhibition, screening, live performance art happening’, At Home With the Ludskis takes over on a Saturday night late slot at Dalston’s Rio Cinema every three months.

The events involve a number of short films and performances in the Rio’s main screening space, often plus other ‘happenings’ elsewhere in the building.

The ‘Ludskis’ claim to be the artistic and spiritual descendants of Clara Ludski, who founded the Rio Cinema over a hundred years ago. Ludski was a Russian Jew who had fled Russia with her husband after it had become too dangerous for them to live there.

She ran an auction house on 105 Kingsland Road which in 1909 she converted into a picture house called Kingsland Palace – now known as the Rio.

As her granddaughter, I am her legacy!” the event’s figurehead ‘Granny Ludski’ declares, “though most of the work [behind the events] falls to my assistant Gary Dwyer, an artist and curator based in Hackney”.

The Ludskis, she says, are “my pretend family of artists, performers and technicians”. Together they aim to “give a platform to all the constituent elements that go in to making a film: script, sound, performance and even hair and make-up. I’m looking for truly anarchic, challenging, individual, exuberant, humanist and original work.”

The most recent event, held on 9 November, featured artists as diverse as Andy Warhol, Korean American video artist Nam June Paik, and Meggy & Mapes, – “two girls on a gonzo mission into the heart of creativity”.

Among her favourite moments from all the events, Granny Ludski lists: “Falsetto opera singer Ernesto Tomisni; people running screaming from the toilets due to Brian Lobel’s performance Safe Sex; Badfood’s immersive installation in the basement; the Turkish musicians who just turned up and started jamming in the foyer; Flange Zoo leading a parade from the station; and [musicians] Bother tied together selling programmes.”

I see [the Rio] as a sacred site,” she adds “a pagan temple to the moving image, where people can come to commune and have a shared experience in contrast to our increasingly atomized society.”

The next At Home With the Ludskis is scheduled for 22 February 2014. Proposals are invited from artists working in any medium interested in taking part. For more information, contact the Rio Cinema or see