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‘Meth Lab’ artists return for CineMarfa

May 4th, 2017 under Arts
Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman who will screen a series of short films at the 2017 CineMarfa Film Festival.

Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman who will screen a series of short films at the 2017 CineMarfa Film Festival.


MARFA – Artist duo Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman, creators of the 2008 Ballroom Marfa installation Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, are returning to Marfa to screen a series of short films at the 2017 CineMarfa Film Festival.

Though the two artists have incorporated film into their past work and Freeman’s background is in film, their film work has taken a backseat to the environmental installations the two artists have become known for.

“We have done a little film work in the past, but nothing as realized or considered as the films we’re screening at CineMarfa,” said Lowe. “It’s really an extension of the experience you get at our installations. You’re going through the architectural surroundings and there are no people. It’s just about the environments of the spaces.”

“The films are basically a companion piece for our installations,” Freeman added. “We get to explore the components of our installations without having to install all the material and winding up with just a digital file. The third film, for example, we ventured around Cleveland and used these ready-made environments in the world. We filmed in an old Masonic Lodge, a dead mall, and went through the high-rises littering the city.”

Though the concepts for the films began nearly a decade ago – when Hello Meth Lab in the Sun was still set up at Ballroom Marfa, a screening of CineMarfa has been in their mind from the beginning of the festival.

“It’s a party we’ve always wanted to be invited to,” laughed Lowe. “The films have been in production in some form for some years now. They have moved into different directions, but throughout the process, we’ve worked with David (Hollander, CineMarfa co-founder). CineMarfa was definitely something we wanted to do.”

For Freeman, attending the festival itself is a reason for excitement, as is the prospect of reuniting with friends he hasn’t seen since his last visit to town in 2009.

“I’ve been talking with everyone involved, and every year, I hear great things about CineMarfa. They seem to always be pulling out these hard to find rarities,” he said. “And everything about this is working out perfectly. Mark (Flood) was in town when we were doing Meth Lab and will be screening a film this year as well. It’s just great.”

Lowe, during his return, is hoping to take in the sights he missed during his residency.

“When we were working and partying in Marfa, there was so much of the typical Marfa stuff I didn’t get to see that I’m hoping to finally check out. We’ll see if that’ll happen or if we’ll just party,” he said with a laugh.

The films, Freeman added, have also spurred a soundtrack that will be released through Drag City Records later this year.

The soundtrack, he explained, is being put together with help from Jennifer Herrema from Royal Trux and will include music from Kurt Vile, Mayo Thompson of Red Krayola, Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, and MGMT, among others.

The films will also be an integral part of a permanent installation the two artists are building in Cleveland, Ohio that is expected to be completed in September.

The installation, which is buried at the property of the patron who commissioned the piece, will be open to the public via tours through the Cleveland Musium of Art.

“It’s definitely our biggest installation to date,” said Lowe.

Freeman and Lowe’s films will be screened on Saturday, May 9 at 8pm and will include a live musical accompaniment by Matt Sweeny and Jesper Eklow of Endless Boogie.

All screenings are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit

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