Chromosomes. Cronenberg beyond cinema
curated by Domenico De Gaetano, Volumina Artistic Director and Luca Massimo Barbero, Venice Guggenheim Collections Curator
22 October - 16 November 2008
In October 2008, the world premiere of the exhibition Chromosomes. Cronenberg beyond cinema, put on thanks to the collaboration of the Festival Internazionale del Film di Roma and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, marks the great filmmaker David Cronenberg's debut in a purely "artistic" realm.
Adored by both audiences and cinema professionals alike, the Canadian director of major hits such as The Fly and Eastern Promises first spoke of his plan for an exhibition of images from his films at a packed press conference during the Venice Film Festival three years ago. That exhibition has now become a reality, featuring 50 images selected by David Cronenberg originating from stills captured from a few of his most famous films: The Fly, Videodrome, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Spider and Eastern Promises.
The 50 still frames were captured in the laboratories of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-CSC National Film School, digitally elaborated under Cronenberg's supervision and then printed on canvas using innovative techniques, to give them a new life beyond the silver screen.
Indeed, the aim is to actually create as much distance as possible from the images' cinematic origins. Some frames are recognizable icons from his cinema, still permeated with the power to amaze: the exploding head; the mutant arm with a gun; the arcane gynecological instruments; the teleport transmission booth; or the hand sensuously caressing the chassis of a car. Whereas others come from the director's more personal imagination, covering the various themes in the exhibition: the relationship between the human body and technology; the connection between cinema and art; the relationship between nature and genetic modification; the aesthetics of the video game; and virtual reality as the antithesis of science.
These stills are interspersed with a series of films that go back through Cronenberg's cinema, touching on some of the relevant issues. The project is topped off with the Red Cars installation, his unmade project for a film about Ferrari, which he transformed into an art-book in 2005. Immediately after the film Crash, Cronenberg wrote a screenplay set in the highly popular world of Formula One racing: It's 1961 and two of the fastest drivers, German count Wolfgang Von Trips and American Phil Hill, are competing for victory in the Formula 1 World Championship, racing in the 156 F1 Ferrari, nicknamed the "shark-nose" because of its form. Overall, the exhibition provides a fascinating audiovisual experience where images, videos and the installation represent three different stages in an exciting and truly unique artistic path. The exhibition is curated by Domenico De Gaetano, Artistic Director of Volumina, and by Luca Massimo Barbero, Curator of the Guggenheim Collections in Venice.
In the exhibition catalogue, produced by Volumina, each still frame is presented with a comment written by personalities from the worlds of art, cinema and science, all linked to Cronenberg's poetic art. Contributors include actor Viggo Mortensen, the director of the Toronto Film Festival Piers Handling, the writer William Gibson, film critic Enrico Ghezzi, the artistic director of the L'altro Cinema-Extra section at the Festival Internazionale del Film di Roma Mario Sesti, and the car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. They were asked to write a short comment on Cronenberg's cinema and art, taking a single still as their starting point.
Canadian director and undisputed master of contemporary cinema, David Cronenberg will be holding a public talk at the Auditorium Parco della Musica during the Rome International Film Festival. During the encounter, moderated by Antonio Monda and Mario Sesti, the director will comment on clips containing some of his films' greatest sequences, with audience members also having the opportunity to pose their own questions.
In 2008 Cronenberg decided to abandon the cinema for a year and concentrate his attention on other forms of artistic expression: directing an opera for the first time and making a foray into the art world as a "painter". In July he put on his first operatic production, The Fly, with music by Howard Shore, based on his film from almost twenty years ago. Then in October, the world premiere of an exhibition featuring artistic images he has created and elaborated, will be opening at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.