Mobile Projection Unit Uses Portable A/V Equipment to Screen Video Art Everywhere From Silos to Under the Burnside Bridge

During the racial injustice protests, its work has taken on added meaning.

Mobile Projection Unit screening "Disclosure" with Snack Bloc. IMAGE: Courtesy of MPU.

Sarah Turner knew she couldn’t keep her guerrilla screening project for herself.

“Once you gain access to these tools, it’s kind of irresponsible to hover over them yourself,” says Turner, who co-founded Mobile Projection Unit last year with Nanda D’Agostino, using portable audio-visual equipment to project video art around Portland. “I’m not going to use my projector every day for my artwork, so I might as well open it up to other people.”

Since Mobile Projection Unit was founded last year, Turner and D’Agostino have worked with other local artists to showcase their work in unexpected locations around the city, from a silo in the Eastside Industrial District to the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon on Southeast Division Street.

Mobile Projection Unit has often presented works that comment on issues like gentrification. But during the racial injustice protests, it has taken on added meaning. This summer, the group has screened films at gatherings organized by protest support group Snack Bloc, and projected Arresting Power, a short documentary about police brutality in Portland, under the Burnside Bridge. On July 1, MPU hosted Been Here, a drive-in screening curated by new-media artist Ariella Tai, which was essentially a mini film festival showcasing works by local Black artists.   

Those recent screenings are the purest expression yet of the communal experience that the duo initially set out to achieve.

“It creates a special feeling among people,” D’Agostino says. “I guess that’s what I think we hope we’re doing.”

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