Born 1971, Brescia, Italy; lives and works in Milan
Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story!, 2006
video, color, sound, 15 minutes, courtesy of the artist and Pinault Collection
Cinema, television, reality shows, celebrity culture and the esthetics of Hollywood glamor—these are the materials that Francesco Vezzoli’s art draws on; at its center is the tension between culture heroes and their audience. Vezzoli adopts fashion representations and pop culture, harnesses formats of movie trailers, television shows, clips and commercials, and uses kitsch and vulgarity to illustrate the obsession shared by millions for cinema, Hollywood culture and their derivatives: the heroes, the back stage, the star dust.
At the core of Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story! is an imaginary attempt to reproduce a 1984 documentary about Marlene Dietrich by Maximilian Schell. Vezzoli’s insistence on reproducing (even only seemingly) past movies illustrates Hollywood practices motivated by financial considerations, as well as cinema’s moments of weakness.
Vezzoli appears here as the protagonist; he adopts a format of entertainment shows dedicated to Hollywood stars (such as E! Channel’s E! True Hollywood Story) and focusing on cinema’s entertainment-voyeuristic-gossipy aspect. He inserts clips from his previous works, such as Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula (2005), featuring famous Hollywood stars, and The Return of Bruce Nauman’s Bouncing Balls (2006), a paraphrase on a work by one of the founding fathers of video installation.
In the guise of a show reporting on Hollywood stars, Vezzoli reflects the seductive and destructive power of the film industry and of politics. He observes Hollywood with irony-laced admiration, comparing its arena to Caligula’s decadent court or to the field of politics. He clings to nostalgia for past movies and divas, but behind the raucous esthetics and sensational headlines there is an elegy for a disappearing cinema and criticism of a world ruled by power and capital.