Florence ART News

1st Florence Biennial
New Persona/New Universe
The transformation of the human body and the identity of thepart it plays

by Angela Tumminelli

The exhibition, set up in the ninteenth century "La Leopolda" railway station, contains a series of environments where 13 fashion designers, flanked by the all-important contribution of 14 contemporary artists, display their ideas on the transformation of the modern image of the body.

These installations, which really do provoke the imagination, utilize various forms of language, from photography, music and design to the technology provided by Hubble Telescope.

The architect Arata Isosaki, designer of the seven Pavilions
exhibiting the works created by Artists and Fashion Designers
(Photo by Gianfranco Gorgoni, with the kind permission of the press office of the Biennial of Firenze)

One of the first installations to attract large numbers of visitors is the one by David Bowie, the well known singer and actor, and marks his first public experience as an artist. His robots are placed in a dark environment, surrounded by strange sounds, and perhaps expect us to imagine the clothes of the future, reduced to their bare essentials; however the robot itself, suspended in the air and hanging from a box containing a luminous ufo, is disquieting.

Vivienne Westwood's creation is certainly more reassuring; her eighteenth century style clothes, abounding in jabots and lace, are worn by placid dummies that seem to envelop the visitor in an atmosphere of the past. There are a great many exhibits that deform reality by developing the subject of the identity of the male and female roles in life, from both the cultural and sexual point of view. Several exhibitors amuse themselves by developing this last aspect, either with monstrous and sexless multi-limbed figures or, viceversa, with enormous sexual organs in the foreground.

The Japanese artist, Yohj Yamamoto, has prepared an extremely original environment containing a series of figures that are human only in shape because they are created from pieces of wood. Various sized sticks and pieces of wood that, after being weathered by water, wind and time, have lost their original surface and acquired a worn patina. All these pieces of wood are assembled together to take on a life of their own and resemble the personalities that populate what is today a naturally cold and detached environment, compared to the way it was when it was still a railway station.

Therefore the exhibition at the Leopolda at Porta a Prato offers an incredible variety of unusual images that are not only fascinating but also fun to look at.

Hours: 10am-6pm, closed on Tuesdays. Entrance ticket 12.000 lire Catalogue 256 pages, 230 illustrations in colour as well as black and white, in paper-back 80.000 lire - Published by Skira Editore - Milan.

See also:

The Biennial, a success with the public


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