From 30 January 2002 to 05 May 2002
Francesco Vezzoli (Brescia, 1971) drew the attention of international critics with his first videos, where the technique of embroidery becomes the cornerstone around which the artist creates veritable cinematic cameos.
Invited to participate in the last Venice Biennale, he aroused particular interest, on the part of critics and public alike, with his performance, Veruschka Was Here, on the occasion of which he convinced the former model to perform live, playing herself in the act of embroidering one of the photos taken of her during the 1960s.
Vezzoli’s works, which include video installations and embroideries he has executed in petit-point, mix heterogeneous languages and genres, bringing together pop icons, auteur cinema, art history and costumes.
According to Marcella Beccaria, curator of the exhibition, “like a collector, who by his very nature gathers a number of scattered fragments, Francesco Vezzoli collects references and quotations. Collected in each work, these compose a tale permeated with beauty and decadence, fame and human pain.” To accomplish his works the artist involves movie stars who have experienced fame or jet set personalities who still live on in the collective imagination. The protagonists of his video works have included, for example, Valentina Cortese, Marisa Berenson shot as Edith Piaf, or Helmut Berger playing a role in Dynasty together with the artist.
Conceived for the spaces of Castello di Rivoli, Francesco Vezzoli’s exhibition includes his new double video installation, The End of the Human Voice and a series of embroideries made specifically for this occasion. The End of the Human Voice is taken from the theatrical text The Human Voice, written by Jean Cocteau in 1930 and brought to the large screen by Roberto Rossellini in 1948.
The subject was inspired by the amorous delirium of a woman who, on the telephone, talks for the last time with the man who has just left her. As is characteristic of his work, Vezzoli mixes different genres in this case involving Bianca Jagger, famous former wife of the leader of the Rolling Stones and queen of the gossip columns, and today a committed civil rights activist.
In one of the two video projections that make up the installation, Bianca Jagger, who has never acted, does so for Vezzoli and plays the dramatic role of the abandoned woman, a part the public knows through the masterful interpretation of Anna Magnani in Rossellini’s film. Reversing the Neorealist version, the video is set in a luxurious and decadent atmosphere, but through a refined use of black and white, it intentionally carries on a dialogue with the film version.
In the other video that makes up the installation, Vezzoli himself plays the part of the faithless lover, creating for himself a role that doesn’t appear in Cocteau’s theatrical text or in Rossellini’s film version. Quoting the figure and works of Jean Cocteau, in a sort of literary self-portrait, the artist composes an almost static image, the bright colors of which present a Surrealist-like atmosphere.
A new series of embroideries included in the exhibition also are inspired by the life and works of Jean Cocteau. Vezzoli has stated: “Through petit-point embroidery, I wanted to romanticize the erotic drawings of the French intellectual.” In dialogue with the historic spaces of the Castello, the artist presents them as “the room of the white book,” composing them in a single installation that runs along the walls of the room.
The exhibition is accompanied by the first monograph dedicated to the artist, edited by Marcella Beccaria. Richly illustrated and furnished with biographical and bibliographical information, the catalogue provides a critical framework for the artist’s work and covers all Vezzoli’s video work thus far. The book, published by Castello di Rivoli, continues the series of monographs that already include Maurizio Cattelan, Grazia Toderi and Mona Hatoum.