ONLY FRANCESCO VEZZOLI COULD HAVE IMAGINED A WHOLE EXHIBITION WHICH EXPLORE ITALIAN SEVENTIES TELEVISION PRODUCTION.
“TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli guarda la Rai” is a project by artist Francesco Vezzoli developed in collaboration with Rai, Italy’s national broadcasting company.
“With this project, I wanted to set a path that was risky and dense—one as difficult as the subject requires—but also entertaining and surreal. A true investigation of this contemporary custom and its roots, informed by today’s critical sensibilities: 1970s Italian television produced rituals and, as a consequence, absolute, long-lasting myths that still today, presented anew in this exhibition, can inspire us to make unconventional choices”, stated the artist.
Francesco Vezzoli’s figure emerged during one of European bourgeois culture crises, when the traumas of Fascism and World War II were overcome by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dramatic social and political changes.
Italian public TV is interpreted by the artist as a driving force for social and political change in a country in transition from the radicalness of the 1960s to the hedonism of the 1980s, as well as a powerful machine for cultural and identity creation. Divided between formal austerity and experimental vocation, 1970s television amplified the development of collective imagination into a plurality of landscapes and individual perspectives, anticipating the narratives which characterized the commercial television of the following years.
During that decade, Rai revised its pedagogical mission and distinguished itself for the high cultural quality of its productions, such as the collaborations with film directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Federico Fellini, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani: for Francesco in fact, the easiest way to watch a Visconti film in Italy was on TV. The tension between high and low culture in the artist work revolves around this paradox.
He has always emphasized the importance of historical value through the recovery of Italian cultural power from previous periods, underlining America’s guilt in the homologation and domination process of popular culture, as in the collapse of all the old models of history without ever allowing it a main role.
In the past,Vezzoli investigated the potential and narrative space of both TV and cinema through works like Ok, The Praz is right! (1997), Comizi di non Amore (2004) or Trailer for the Remake of Caligula by Gore Vidal (2005).
The exhibition is based on the merging of spatial and temporal dimensions in a set-up which combines traditional museum exhibition standards with the screening of moving images, in alternating conditions of light and darkness. The sequence of immaterial documents from the Teche Rai archives combined with the materiality of paintings, sculptures and installations will develop in three separate sections, and analyze the relationships between Italian public television with visual art, politics and entertainment.
“TV 70” will come to an end at the Fondazione’s Cinema with the screening of a new work by Francesco Vezzoli Trilogia della Rai (2017), a selection of TV excerpts edited by the artist. By including the icons that marked his childhood and adolescence within the TV flow featuring different genres and styles, the artist will transform archive footage into a living substance, and his personal, intimate memory into a shared narration. Vezzoli combines in an intense collection the traces of contradictions and aspirations of a country mirrored in its media production.
TV 70: FRANCESCO VEZZOLI GUARDA LA RAI
Fondazione Prada, Milano