January 28, 2002 - Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art - Shirin Neshat | Francesco Vezzoli
January 28, 2002

Shirin Neshat | Francesco Vezzoli

Shirin Neshat | Francesco Vezzoli
January 30 – May 5, 2002

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art 

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to present:

Shirin Neshat, Curated by Giorgio Verzotti
Francesco Vezzoli, Curated by Marcella Beccaria

Shirin Neshat
January 30 – May 5, 2002
Curated by Giorgio Verzotti
Catalogue by Charta, Milan

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art is devoting a large solo exhibition to the work of Shirin Neshat. Curated by Giorgio Verzotti, the exhibition includes four video installations, the most recent of which, Pulse, Possessed and Passage, are being shown for the first time in Italy, and a selection of photographic works.

Neshat, of Iranian origin (born in Qazvin in 1957) but a resident of the United States for over twenty years, has chosen video and photography to explore themes of great topical interest, such as the condition of women, relationships between the sexes, social censorship, diversity and marginalization, violence and madness. Since the Nineties she has traveled to Iran to see her family, after twelve years of absence due to the political upheavals in her country. These visits have allowed her to maintain relationships with the Eastern world, witnessed from a different perspective from the progressive political and social change imposed on her country by the theocratic regime.

Thus her poetics are focused on a reflection upon the relationships between her native culture and the Western culture to which she now considers herself assimilated. Influenced by contemporary Iranian cinema, particularly the work of Abbas Kiarostami, she creates a form of minimalist narration, as the artist calls it, but with great visual impact. The analysis that the artist achieves in her works is delineated with a lucid and at the same time poetic perspective. The four video installations are presented in the spaces on the third floor of the Castello, each installed in its own room. Rapture (1999, 13), inspired by a tale by the Iranian woman writer Ravananpuri and shot on the coast of Morocco, consists of a black and white video projection on two facing screens. The video is devoted to the theme of sexual identity in relationship to opposing concepts of culture and nature in Islamic countries. Pulse (2001, 830), shot in black and white, introduces the public for the first time to the interior world of the closed off, private space of an Islamic woman. The artist has called this video a black on black painting.* Possessed (2001, 930) explores with black and white images the drama of madness, which represents chaos and the transgression of social order, and the marginalized condition that results. The actors in the video are the inhabitants of Essaouira in Morocco.

For Passage (2001, 1130), shot in color in the desert of Morocco, Neshat collaborated for the first time with the American composer Philip Glass, who wrote the soundtrack. The video is dedicated to a meditation on the universal theme of death and on the ritual of burying or the return of the body to the earth, a motif in nearly all cultures.

In the large room on the third floor of the Castello a selection of sixteen large-scale photographic works also will be shown. Both in black and white and color, these are taken from videos made between 1998 and 2001.

The exhibition catalogue, published by Charta, contains critical essays by Hamid Dabashi, RoseLee Goldberg and Giorgio Verzotti, images of the exhibited works and biographical-bibliographical material.

In conjunction with the exhibition, in March the Museo Nazionale del Cinema will show a collection of Iranian films from the Nineties, at the Cinema Massimo in Turin. Most of the films in this series, organized by Francesco Bernardelli, have never before been seen in Italy.

* R.L. Goldberg, Shirin Neshat, exhibition catalogue, Castello di Rivoli, 2002.

Francesco Vezzoli
January 30 May 5, 2002
Curated by Marcella Beccaria
Catalogue by Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art

Francesco Vezzoli 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.

Vezzolis 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. 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 Vezzolis 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 Rossellinis 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 doesnt appear in Cocteaus theatrical text or in Rossellinis 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. 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.

Press Office, Castello di Rivoli Museo dArte Contemporanea
ph. 39.011.9565209 fax 39.011.9565231, e-mail: press@castellodirivoli.org
Press Office Consultant: Alessandra Santerini, ph./fax 39.011.8123180,
mobile 39.335.6853767, e-mail: santales@tin.it

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