Prada Foundation explores 70’s Italian TV through the eyes of Francesco Vezzoli. Between individual experience and collective mythology.
70s AND 80s TV AS AN ENGINE FOR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CHANGE
Francesco Vezzoli explores the role of Italian TV on the social and cultural development of the 70s, with a focus on RAI. All in an exhibit at Fondazione Prada. Public TV is seen as an engine for social and political change in a country divided between the revendication of the 70s and the hedonism of the 80s. TV so became a powerful machine of cultural and identity production. During the 70s-80s decade, RAI abandoned its pedagogical vocation and showcased highly cultural productions. It was the beginning of the collaboration with names such as Bertolucci, Fellini, Taviani brothers.
Balancing between formal austerity and new creative vitality, public TV was a powerful detonator for collective imagery, disclosing the commercial storytelling of 90s TV. From culture to information, ending with communication.
A RESEARCH ON CONTEMPORARY HABITS AND THEIR ROOTS
As Francesco Vezzoli explains: “With this project I wanted to create a dangerous and dense journey, as hard as its subject needs it to be, but also funny and surreal. A thorough research on contemporary habits and their roots, with also a critical eye to our current times. 70s TV produced rituals and, consequently, absolute myths that have lasted until today. Bringing them back in this exhibit could inspire other unconventional choices.”
PUBLIC TV VS ART, POLITICS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The exhibit has been thought as a sequence of visual and semantic associations, unraveling in the North Gallery, Podium and South Gallery of the Fondazione. The path has been designed by Mathias Augustyniak and Micheal Amzalag, and it’s based on the fusion between spatial and temporal dimension, combining traditional exhibition with virtual live streams. Files from RAI’s archives are matched with paintings, sculptures and artistic installations. The exhibit is divided in three sections, each facing the relationship between public TV and art, politics and entertainment.
The first section is dedicated to the relationship between RAI and art. Exposed are paintings such as The night visit by Guttuso (1980), explained in video by the very artist. The second section confronts RAI with politics. A room with black floors and walls – a non-randomly chosen color – hosts scenes from the news of the years between 70s and 80s. The contemporarily video reproduction enhances the claustrophobic feeling sought by the artist. One after the other, the news concerning Aldo Moro’s kidnapping, Walter Tobagi’s murder, Bologna train station’s massacre, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s murder and the death of Gian Giacomo Feltrinelli unravel.
TV 70: FRANCESCO VEZZOLI GUARDA LA RAI ALLA FONDAZIONE PRADA
Just like this, the visitor is projected into one of the most dramatic period of Italian politics. Yet, in the end, Vezzoli changes direction and goes straight into the glittering world of entertainment, with an explosive contraposition. Mina’s voice, Raffaella Carrà dancing, the Kessler sisters: everything comes as a blast to the viewer who has just been confronted with the Ustica massacre or Vittorio Occorso’s murder. You don’t know where to go next, with the exhibit resembling life’s contradictions.
It’s the birth of the most commercial form of TV: silly ladies, sexual innuendos, easy comedy. Trash TV is born, which will have its biggest momentum in the 90s and in all the future Italian TV production.
RAI’s TRILOGY: A COLLECTIVE UNIVERSE ON SCREEN
The exhibit’s path ends inside the Fondazione Prada Movie Theatre, where RAI’s Trilogy is showcased. This video assembles various TV sketches where you can spot the icons of Francesco Vezzoli’s childhood. Mixing different genres, the artist turns his personal memory in a collective one, and the visitor can’t help but relate to it on different levels. That’s where the contradiction stands: being the visitor of an art exhibit, but contemporarily the viewer of a TV production.
LET’S SEE THEM AGAIN: TV MARATHONS
Through the all length of the exhibit, real TV marathons are going to be held at the Fondazione Prada. Here people will have the chance to rediscover the shows that have changed TV storytelling. Documentary films, variety shows, television dramas and avant-garde pieces: each of them contributed to a new flow of innovation. While seeing them again today, the viewer will be able to appreciate not only the cutting-edge style, but also the entertainment and information potential. All after more than 40 years.
At the end of the exhibit is mandatory to stop for a slice of pink cake at Bar Luce. Designed by Wes Anderson and sporting simple formica tables, inspiring the menu with their texture, this bar recreates the atmosphere of a vintage Milanese cafe. The movie director wanted to create a place where he would have liked to spend his days, writing screenplays or simply reading.
Bar Luce is perfect as an after-exhibit, but also so stunning that you’ll always want to come back for more.
TV 70: FRANCESCO VEZZOLI GUARDA LA RAI
Until September 24th
Largo Isarco, 2, 20139 Milan
+39 02 5666 2611
Monday / Wednesday / Thursday, 9am – 9pm
Friday / Saturday / Sunday, 9am – 10pm
Closed on Tuesday
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