The opening programme explores the cultural context in Turin and influential artists Mario Merz, Alighiero Boetti and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Featuring key films produced in Turin by Ugo Nespolo, Pia Epremian, Tonino De Bernardi and Plinio Martelli on the occasion of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s exhibition at the gallery L’Attico, Rome, 1968 and Ugo Nespolo films on Mario Merz and Alighiero Boetti.
Followed by discussion with Ugo Nespolo
Buongiorno Michelangelo / Good Morning, Michelangelo
Ugo Nespolo, Italy 1968, 16mm transferred to video, colour, silent, 18 min
Featuring: Michelangelo Pistoletto, Maria Pistoletto, Daniela Chiaperotti, Tommaso Trini, Daniela Palazzoli, Gianni Simonetti, Vasco Are, Gian Enzo Sperone, Gilberto Zorio.
The film challenges the aura of the artwork, pushing it towards performance in urban space. During the exhibition Con-temp-l’azione (1967–68, curated by Daniela Palazzoli), at the three galleries Stein, Sperone and Il punto, two works by Michelangelo Pistoletto – the newspaper ball La sfera di giornali 1966 and La rosa bruciata 1965 from oggetti in meno (Minus Objects) – are taken out into the street. The film marks the beginning of a more militant and performative phase in Pistoletto’s career, opening up possible references to Situationism, Fluxus and nouveau réalisme. The film starts with Pistoletto shaving in front of one of his ‘mirrors’: the codes of everyday life and advertising burst into the scene. The large ball of newspapers roams Turin in a convertible automobile. The music of The Beatles accompanies the exploration of different filming and editing techniques. From the gallery of Christian Stein, La rosa bruciata is carried along the porticos of the city. Intense, amused and brilliant, Buongiorno Michelangelo suggests a performative, cooperative and perhaps also playful aspect of the attitude of this short and intense period.
Pistoletto & Sotheby's
Pia Epremian, Italy 1968, 8mm transferred to video, colour, sound, 22 min
This film represents an encounter with several major icons of the history of western painting, ‘while attempting’ – as the filmmaker says – ‘to always create a link between art and life, an impertinence with respect to those images that the production of works of documentation [books and magazines] brought to the attention of everyone for the first time.’ Reclaiming art history in a performative, playful way and evoking the tradition of tableau vivant, Pistoletto with his daughters Cristina and Maria Pioppi ‘act out’ in a series of little scenes: Orpheus and Eurydice, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Raphael, Chaim Soutine, James Ensor, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh. Shot in Pistoletto’s studio in 1967, which had been officially declared ‘open,’ against a backdrop of photographs of pop culture icons, mirrors, and a soundtrack of vocal sounds, noises and pianoforte, the film was part of creative collaborations between young filmmakers from Turin and the artist before his solo show held in February – March 1968 at Galleria L’Attico in Rome, where the films were screened.
Tonino De Bernardi, Italy 1968, 8mm transferred to video, colour, sound, 26 min
The first part, composed of close-ups of faces shot at a sharp angle from below, takes place at the top of a ladder, where Pistoletto creates an ornate collar and a long cloak of cellophane that wraps Maria Pioppi. The action shifts then to the ground, where the images of several men stripped to the waist (including the artist Plinio Martelli) blend with those of two nude women dancing in the surface of a mirror work by Pistoletto himself, inspired by a famous photographic sequence of Eadweard Muybridge.
The ‘performed’ humble industrial materials foreshadow several motifs developed by Pistoletto from 1968 with the company Lo Zoo, especially the action Cocapicco e Vestitorito presented at the Piper Pluriclub disco on 8 May 1968.
Plinio Martelli, Italy 1968, 16mm transferred to video, black and white, sound, 12 min
The film begins with a photo shoot, shown in a sequence of often frontal views and counterviews, in which Michelangelo Pistoletto photographs Maria Pioppi, encouraging her to assume different poses and to interact with various objects. The negatives of the photographs gradually appear over the flow of images. The images once hung on the walls, are subjected to a series of bizarre performative actions by a group of young people, as if at an opening (including the artist Ugo Nespolo and the filmmakers Renato Ferraro and Gioachino Nichot), who then shift into a dance with playful and erotic overtones. Two versions of the film exist, one developed positive and one negative.
Ugo Nespolo, Italy 1967, 16mm, colour, sound, 3 min
From 1967 to 1969 Ugo Nespolo made three films about three artist friends: Mario Merz, Alighiero Boetti and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Neonmerzare, featuring Merz, was shot in the gallery of Gian Enzo Sperone in Turin, in 1968. With lyrical movements, the camera tracks a series of neon tubes, establishing an ideal dialogue between the traditions of the abstract cinema of light and colour, and experimental documentary filmmaking. The symphony of lights is accompanied by jazz improvisation by the saxophonist Carlo Actis Dato.
Ugo Nespolo, Italy 1968, 16mm, black and white, sound, 6 min
In 1967, a few months after the famous exhibition Arte povera-Im Spazio at the gallery La Bertesca in Genoa (when the critic Germano Celant defined the first guidelines of arte povera), Alighiero Boetti, at the age of 27, had a solo show at the Turin-based gallery Christian Stein. The first part the film explores the works assembled with iron, wood and industrial materials (Eternit, camouflage fabric, enamel paint), then shifts to the reactions and relations with the works of the audience at the opening (the artists Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mario Ceroli and Giulio Paolini, and the dealer Gian Enzo Sperone are recognisable). The black and white images are accompanied by a saxophone improvisation by Carlo Actis Dato.