Through the exploration of power, and of the power structures of contemporary media culture, Francesco Vezzoli tackles an ongoing preoccupation with the fundamental ambiguity of truth, the seductive power of language, and the instability of the human persona. Using a range of media, from film and performance, to photography and needlepoint, Vezzoli creates artworks rich in references and quotations, which challenge the distinctions between “high art” and popular culture.
Francesco Vezzoli first achieved fame with his video productions of pop icons and celebrities, while his more recent practice reflects on the iconography of Italy’s past. With Party Politics, Vezzoli continues his investigation of collective narratives, this time analyzing the relationships between politics, entertainment, and visual art. Drawing from a selection of archival photographs taken by photo-reporters primarily in the 1980s, the exhibition explores the slow decline of political commitment in Italy as it shifts away from 1960s radicalism and collectivity, towards an era marked by hedonism and socialite culture.
A selection of medium to large format photographs capture the media events, political engagements, and social festivities of well-known politicians and personalities, in a presentation that calls to mind both the courtly portraits of Hans Holbein the Younger and the modern moral subjects of William Hogarth. With a critical, yet never blasphemous eye, Vezzoli transforms the photographs, rich in symbolism, allusion and paradox, into epic portraits of an era. The moments immortalized thus become both the testimonies of a past era and an omen for the future.
We are also very pleased to have the participation of noted writer and political journalist Filippo Ceccarelli, whose new book, Invano. Il potere in Italia da De Gasperi a questi qua (In vain. Power in Italy from De Gasperi to these ones), was published by Feltrinelli in 2018. Each artwork in the exhibition will be accompanied by a text written by Ceccarelli, who very graciously accepted the invitation to collaborate in the project.
Francesco Vezzoli was born in 1971 in Brescia, Italy; he currently lives and works in Milan. He has held solo exhibitions in innumerable institutions, including Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018); Fondazione Prada, Milan (2017); Museion, Bolzano (2016); Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (2016); Performa 15, New York (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2014); MOCA, Los Angeles (2014); MAXXI – Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, Rome (2013); Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2010); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2009); The Power Plant, Toronto (2007); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2007); Tate Modern, London (2006); Le Consortium, Dijon (2006); Fondazione Cini, Venice (2005); Serralves Museum, Porto (2005); The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli (2002); GAM, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (2000). In 2007 he co-represented Italy at the 52nd Venice Biennale, together with Giuseppe Penone.