The modern moment and worlds of imagination are often the axis of Francesco Vezzoli’s art. His paintings, films, and performance pieces explore the open ambiguities of the present, and the space between what our eyes see, and the endless meanings we can ascribe. The artist’s long legacy of culture-driven artwork coyly plays with audience expectations, while quietly assessing their connections. And his most recent project, “Love Stories – A Sentimental Survey by Francesco Vezzoli” is no exception. Beginning this week, the art piece takes shape on Fondazione Prada’s Instagram account using the platform’s polling feature to explore the many ways that social media can measure—and affect—our emotions, psychology, and sentiments.
Curated by Eva Fabbris, “Love Stories” presents more than 50 questions and corresponding images with a range of duos—man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, non-binary/binary, and mother/son. Each picture poses two pop-up narratives and viewers are asked to select which interpretation rings most true. A new image will be suggested daily and at each weeks’ end, a cultural personality will then interpret and comment on the results. “With Fondazione Prada, we wanted to conceive a real digital exhibition involving viewers and interactions,” Vezzoli tells CR. “It is not just that you belong to a social media community, but that you feel you are a part of the community experience.”
Known for his equal love of classical history and current culture, Vezzoli selected operatic arias to inspire each week’s survey, such as Italian composers Vincenzo Bellini, Giacomo Puccini, Gioacchino Rossini, and Giuseppe Verdi. A special inclusion is Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” in homage to the Pasolini film, Comizi d’amore (“Love Meetings”)—which was also the catalyst for an earlier Vezzoli-Foundiazone Prada project. “Comizi di non-amore is the starting point of ‘Love Stories,’” says Vezzoli. “It offered a viewpoint on relationships, which cinéma vérité and Pasolini also do with impromptu camera shots. [We have created] a similar situation with Instagram Stories.”
Implicit within Vezzoli’s pictorial vignettes and Q&A are larger topics of our impressions and ideals—love, identity, the body, and the future. With images ranging from art historical Caravaggio and Toulouse-Lautrec to contemporary Madonna and Kim Kardashian, Vezzoli takes a wide view on storylines and significance. “We proposed an abundance of meanings for the images because that is the nature of our game. As an art institution, the Prada Foundation is layered in meaning and that is part of my identity as an artist as well,” explains Vezzoli. “There are so many levels and sophisticated layers for reading these polls. In my mind, the artwork is within the audience reaction itself.”
Never one to shy from complex questions, the visual shocks and bold symbolism of “Love Stories” are in keeping with Vezzoli’s broader oeuvre. He has in fact, built an international reputation on his conceptual daring. After leaving his native Brescia, Italy to attend Central St. Martin’s School of Art in London, his early embroideries of modern masterworks, including Mark Rothko and Josef Albers, received wide art world attention. Then Vezzoli turned to iconic images of actresses and celebrities—often reimagining them with tears or blood—upending conventions of beauty and myth in the most artistic of ways.
The theme of fame is also a major current within the artist’s films, where the likes of Helen Mirren, Courtney Love, and even Gore Vidal himself had roles in Trailer for the Remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula, a preview for a fictional remake of the ‘70s film—which appeared at both the 2005 Venice Bienniale and 2006 Whitney Biennial. Two year later, his video piece “DEMOCRAZY” with Sharon Stone and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy in a mock presidential campaign, was shown at the following Venice exhibition. Ever questioning the lines between art, celebrity, and reality, Vezzoli has since devised the launch of a faux fragrance, Greed at Gagosian gallery, a temporary 24-hour museum in Paris’ Palais d’Iéna, and memorably, Lady Gaga performing “Speechless” at a Damien Hirst-designed piano, flocked by Bolshoi ballet dancers.
Luminaries are again the focus of the artist’s latest project. Here, Vezzoli reveals an essential desire to understand the collective mindset, and social media is the window into those thoughts and beliefs. “Instagram’s mechanism is so revealing of our fascinations, our secrets, and what our boundaries are,” says the artist. “It is a fascinating territory to explore, particularly because the moment we are going through deserves truth and directness. In this moment, if we are able to take people’s mind off their circumstances and take their hearts off the sadness, even if just for a few seconds, we have already won.”
Between what is public and private, artificial and true, human nature comes to light. “Love Stories” is a visual survey with worlds of depth beneath—a telling view into our instincts and psyches, and a picture of the global community in an unprecedented moment. Through this, Vezzoli’s images become a metric, and the true piece de resistance is the audience, unfolding its intuition, emotions, and greater thoughts around these narratives.
“Love Stories – A Sentimental Survey by Francesco Vezzoli” is on view at Fondazione Prada Instagram from May 11, 2020.END
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createdAt:Fri, 08 May 2020 17:55:54 +0000
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