(Palazzo Madama in Turin from Wikimedia commons contributed by wikipedia.org)
I was very intrigued to learn about a show at the Palazzo Madama in Turin of the work by the American avant-garde stage director and playwright Robert Wilson. According to the article I read in IlSole24 Ore, this show started in September and will run until January of 2013. For more information, here is the site for the exposition at the museum: http://www.palazzomadamatorino.it/mostra.php?id_evento=169
What follows is my translation of the article in Italian about the show:
It is not difficult to understand what Robert Wilson, a master of avant-garde theater, intended when he called his video portraits “windows on another world”. Outside of the context in which they are located (in this case the baroque frame of the Palazzo Madama in Turin), and outside the context of our common frame of reference in which we are used to interpreting these portraits, we find an image that fixes the position of man in relation to the world around him, to his place in society. Even if the location of the fifty works on display on the first floor of this Savoy building doesn’t appear significantly off-putting, then certainly the appearance of movement in the images subverts the rules we normally apply as we understand what occurs in the specific context which is presented: a set of actions slowed down and repeated that disorient and at the same time keep the visitor/viewer glued to the video, almost hypnotically, waiting for something to happen. We have already experienced something similar with Andy Warhol in the ’60s with his “screen tests” (characters exposed for three minutes with a fixed camera position), but in this show Wilson manages to be much more engaging.
The result of research which started in 2005 with VOOM HD Networks, a company specializing in high-definition TV, each of Wilson’s animated portraits contains a mini story, some of which can be consumed in the blink of an eye, while others are presented in a slightly longer format (the length of time varies from 30 seconds to 20 minutes). Mounted on ultra-thin screens and hung like paintings on the damask walls of Palazzo Madama, images are repeated in a loop. In order to accentuate their rhythm, soundtracks specially created by musicians like Michael Galasso or David Byrne, along with works by Bach and Beethoven are reinterpreted in a contemporary way. Several expressive languages merge: painting, photography, cinema, and music combine to create edgy works, dominated by the taste for a mix of media that characterizes contemporary artistic research. Upon closer inspection, there is nothing deeply innovative about this mélange (the first to speak of “total work of art” was Wagner), but the advances in technology are constantly pushing boundaries.
In this show, that is produced by Change Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Fondazione Torino Musei and Rai, one is nourished by contrast. In the room that hosts the Senato del Regno d’Italia (Senate of the Kingdom of Italy), visitors find themselves immersed in a zoo comprised of curious animals that stun the viewer: snow owls on pop backgrounds like those of Lichtenstein, a black panther, or a psychedelic horned frog. Continuing on, one happens upon celebrities: Johnny Depp veneered on a hot pink background, Brad Pitt naked in the rain in Blade Runner style, or Steve Buscemi in the role of a butcher, chewing nervously, representing modern pity; but also the former empress of Iran Farah Diba. Ironic, melancholy, and at times disturbing, the modern portraits of Wilson meld with the sculptures and portraits of prior eras that are in the museum collection. The result is a feeling of timelessness, being suspended between past, present and future, creating a sensation of alienation for the visitor.
For those of you who enjoy the avant-garde, this show certainly seems worth investigating further.
Ci sentiamo presto,